What would you tell kids about writing?

Here’s a post by Kathryn Lilley at Kill Zone Blog: What would you tell kids about writing?

She means during a school presentation or something of that sort.

I attended a high school Career Day in South Carolina yesterday, to talk about writing as a possible vocation. I hosted multiple, back-to-back discussions, each one covering different writing-related careers: journalism; fiction writing; and technical writing…

Sounds like a good group of kids, and of course they might have found it interesting to compare the idea of being a novelist with the idea of being, say, a nurse.

Kathryn says she focused on the importance of the craft of writing and the importance of connecting with the local writer’s community. I agree about the former, but the latter seems iffy to me. That’s partly because “local” means something different when you’re this far away from a big city, partly because local is not a very meaningful term in this digitally connected age, and partly because I’m such an introvert that I basically never have followed this advice — certainly not at all before I was actually published. Every budding writer’s mileage will vary, no doubt.

Anyway: what I would say —

Poetic images of The Struggling Poet aside, financial insecurity may well kill your creativity. Even if you can write when under a lot of financial stress, why would you want to? Find a real job that will provide a good cushion and let writing be a hobby until you believe you really are prepared to let it be your only source of income. Which may be never, and that is fine.

Learn to budget, and I mean on the long term, because when you are self-employed you will not BELIEVE how variable your yearly income can be. Budget for taxes first and then for other random huge expenses and sock a lot of money away in good years because there will be years that aren’t so good.

Maybe that’s too practical. But that’s what I would say. And have.

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1 thought on “What would you tell kids about writing?”

  1. The practical advice is probably the most important you can give, yes.

    If they really want to hear advice about How To Write, I’d want to explain that such advice isn’t one-size-fits-all: successful writers write in surprisingly different ways.

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