Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Honesty, Encouragement, and Community for Writers

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.

Yesterday I changed the banner on the Go Teen Writers blog. It once read "contests, encouragement, and community for young writers" and has been tweaked to "honesty, encouragement, and community for writers." Here's why:

Honesty

This is some of the feedback we receive the most about our blog, and it's my favorite thing to hear. Jill and I have both run into dishonesty in this business. Some from your typical sources, like companies that masquerade as a traditional publisher when they're nothing more than a vanity press. But we've also seen a lot of writers and freelance editors misrepresent their experience or their fan base. Being honest about who we are, how we view writing, and what we observe around us is at the core of every post we write.

Encouragement
Honesty is great, but we both feel that encouragement is equally important. Just like Shan talked about on Friday, there's a way to be honest with people that is also kind and encouraging. We never want anyone to walk away from a blog post on Go Teen Writers feeling more discouraged than before.

Community
Jill and I don't think that we make Go Teen Writers a special place. We think you make it one. That's why we love creating places for you to connect with each other (like the critique groups, the Facebook group, or even in the comments section on the blog. As someone who was once a very lonely teen writer, it sometimes brings tears to my eyes when I see the way you all support each other.

For Writers
While our focus will continue to be young writers, many of you are growing up and we want you to know that we're mindful of you when we prepare posts. Since our blog title reflects that we exist for teen writers, I wanted our description to be more inclusive.

Does this mean Go Teen Writers is done hosting contests???
Not at all! Contests play an important role in carrying out our mission to be honest and encouraging.

If you feel like sharing, we'd love to hear how you found Go Teen Writers!




49 comments:

  1. I found you at the beginning of my writing 'journey'- January of this year. I don't know what i searched on google, but GTW came up. (Maybe something along the lines of storyworld building?) It all started from there :) I can't explain how MUCH of a help you all- Ms. Morrill, Ms. Willimason, Ms. Dittemore, and guest writers- not to mention this wonderful, fabulous community of writers have been. Thank you all so much! :)

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    1. Emily, I'm so touched that you've been hanging out with us for almost a year now!

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  2. A friend of mine told me about it. At first I didn't feel like checking it out - because I wasn't into blogging at the time, but I did.
    That was sometime in the spring of 2013 I think. Since joining GTW I am a much more motivated writer.

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  3. Well. I was a twenty-something, talking this friend of mine who was a twenty-something YA writer, who said, "You know what I'd like to do?" And I said, "I think that would be awesome! You can count on me to help whenever you need it!" ;-)

    It's been so awesome to watch the blog grow and get to know all these awesome young writers!

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    1. It's so hard to believe that was nearly 5 years ago! Because I remember we had that debate of, "I've got two books releasing and a baby coming this summer. Is now really the right time?" Thanks for being my loyal commenter in those early days! And for always being up for a guest post.

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  4. I found GTW in late September, and the tidings could not have been better. It inspired me to rewrite a book I abandoned a year(ish) ago, and turn it into a story I'm going to finish. I don't know how I can thank you guys enough. Last Word War made me break my record for most words in a day (little more than 2000). The critique group is awesome. The advice is awesome. Seriously, I owe you guys. I'm twelve, and you built my foundations for the coming many years. I'll say it again, I can't thank you enough!

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    1. Jonathan, it'll be so fun to watch you continue to grow as a writer!

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  5. I found GTW a year ago when struggling and feeling lost on my journey to be a manga/comic creator some day and searched google for something related to story or characters.

    I've learnt a ton from GTW!
    I learnt what a plot is, how to plan a story, create interesting characters and much more that really
    helped me on my journey.

    My story and characters have gotten more interesting, I'm having a blast learning and I don't feel lost anymore. :D

    In many >how to draw manga/comic< books the how to create a story and deep characters is missing or
    too confusingly written for me even when in my mothertongue (german).

    On GTW all the blog posts are written easy to understand and from the heart (inkl. the GTW book I bought many months ago). :)

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for sharing that! We all have been at that lonely place before. I'm so glad you found us!

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  6. I found GTW when a friend, Hadley Grace, liked one of your posts on Facebook. That was about a year ago. I started reading regularly, but then I gave up on the story I was working on and became a little bitter about writing, so I stopped reading. When I started prewriting my 100-4-100 story, I came back to y'all, and I intend to both finish my story and keep reading for a long time!

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    1. I've gone through seasons like that too. Honestly, sometimes I think I might have walked away from writing if I hadn't invested so much in Go Teen Writers. Glad to have you back!

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  7. I got a free version of Jill Williamson's Replication and loved it. I then tracked down the rest of her books, read them all, and looked up her website. From her website, I found Go Teen Writers earlier this year. It has been amazing connecting with everyone here and learning from the blog posts and each other. Even though I'm not a teen writer any more, I still often feel like a teen writer since I'm at the same stage in my writing journey as many of the teen writers I've met here.

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    1. We love having non-teen writers here! I'm so glad you hang out with us, Tricia.

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    2. Love it here and I am not a teen either- but a new writer of novels-When asked for sites for writers I always suggest this one... you all have great posts advice and attitude for all ages and stages of writers

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  8. I stumbled upon GTW, when I was a teacher's aide for the volleyball coach. Once I finished all my work for her, I was allowed to get on her computer because she was usually out in the gym with her PE class. The first time I found it, I remember sitting there and reading several posts back to back and then going and searching through the posts for things I was struggling with as a writer. Needless to say, I've been hooked ever since. :)

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  9. I was looking up what sort of lamps people used in medieval times, and stumbled across Mrs. Williamson's blog post about them on her website. I read her Journey to Publication article and was very inspired! Then a couple of months later I felt like rereading it, so I did, when my eye suddenly fell across a button in the corner of the page: GO TEEN WRITERS. Sounds perfect, I thought, and, well, here I am! Thank you all wonderful hosters of this site! It has helped me so much!

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    1. I haven't read her article on how she got published. I should do that!

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    2. I remember writing about Medieval Lighting Methods, Hanan! That was a while back. It was a fun post too. It made me want to learn how to make candles and start using oil lamps at night. I'm glad you found GTW!

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  10. I found GTW in August, through the Go Teen Writers book. I'd been looking for a writing craft book geared for teens and Go Teen Writers got the best reviews. I visited the blog after reading the book and have been loving it ever since! As, once, a "lonely teen writer" myself, it's been so wonderful to have other teen writers to communicate with. Thank you so much, Mrs. Morrill, Mrs. Williamson, and Mrs. Dittemore! :)

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    1. Oh, that's awesome, Linea. I'm so glad you found the book and the blog!

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  11. I've been around here since just about when it started. I was a fan of Jill's then and learned about it on one of her facebook posts I believe ( I had also been a part of blog Jill did before this where there were online teen conferences). Since then I have started reading Stephanie's books as well!

    I have found the word wars and contests most helpful for me. While I read all the posts you guys write, I'm already on my fifth book so I know what works for my writing style. The contests keep me writing, though, when college gets busy and hectic and I just want to stare at the wall and play dead. I've finished a good 10,000 words already this semester all thanks to the 100 for 100!

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    1. I'm so glad you found GTW! And congrats on finishing so many books and continuing to write in college. That's awesome!

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  12. Well, I don't exactly remember how I found Go Teen Writers. I think it was back in August of 2012 after a few friends had mentioned it, and I'd never really checked it out--but then I think I found a link somewhere else and stopped by. And I've never really left since. ;)

    Really, I think now it's like GTW is the hub of the online writing community I see on Pinterest, blogs, etc. Practically every writer I interact with is a part of the GTW crew in some way. :) It's pretty awesome! I've lost count of how many wonderful people I've met because of Go Teen Writers and all the ways my life has changed because of the blog and the people.

    I think another thank you is relevant. ;) I love the new slogan. It sums things up really well!

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  13. I found your blog through another blog. She said one of the blogs that helped her most with her writing was GTW. So I checked it out and followed it. But then I started getting bored with all the posts so I un-followed it. (because I was like, 8 XD). But I just re-discovered it and all the posts are awesome and really help me! :D

    ~Lydia~ <3

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  14. I love reading all these stories about how you guys found Go Teen Writers!

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  15. Hm... Basically, my oldest sister started writing, and this whole generation of our family followed suite, and we got into writery things. I was told about this blog by one of my older sisters.

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  16. I accidentally ended up in a cabin with a bunch of GTW members in Camp NaNo maybe a little under two years ago. They'd all requested each other, and somehow I ended up getting shuffled into the remaining spot. It was a little weird for me at first, because everyone seemed to know each other, and I didn't know anybody. Then several of them started saying they were Christians, some even homeschooled, so we connected on that, and sometime during the month they told me about GTW. It sounded really cool, and I didn't really have a support network beyond one friend and my immediate family, so I checked it out, and the rest is history. Now I have a huge support network, and have even met some of my closest friends and a new favorite author through the group. Also, I've become addicted to CCs and word wars. It's crazy.

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  17. A couple of years ago, I decided it was the right time to really start writing my own stories (rather than fanfiction), but also knew I needed some sort of platform from where I could draw help and get tips and all. After searching on google for a little while, I cama cross the GTW site. I read through the site for a bit, and decided this was exactly what I needed. And the real bonus came when I found out about the Facebook community. The support there is so amazing, and it is so nice to share things with like-wise people, or just ask about thinks you are unsure.

    I love it <3

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  18. I googled something about teen writing because I was kind of into it and your website popped up. Over the past year I have become much more dedicated to my writing and I love it so much more now. Thank you so much for having such an amazing website! I've written my first 1K in a day on here, sent my work off for others to read on here, and done so many things that I was so afraid to do before, so thank you. :)

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  19. I found the link through another writer's blog about three months ago. I've come on almost every day since! It's such a nice place for young people to get support and tips during their writing journey.

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  20. I found GTW via a knitting/crocheting site called Ravelry believe it or not. XD I have a bunch of writery friends over there and one of them mentioned here a few times. If it wasn't for my friends over there and GTW I probably wouldn't be writing anything worth reading, if at all. :)

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    1. That's exactly how I found GTW too!

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    2. :O You're on Ravelry too?! :D (I'm purpleDragon57 over there if you wanna look me up some time. :))

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  21. A friend of mine told me about your blog and I have been reading it ever since! GTW had changed my life and it is such a blessing! Without it, I never would have met one of my dearest friends or have ever been where I am today. Thank you so much Stephanie and Jill!!!

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  22. About a year and a half ago, I got really into novel writing, and I remember searching up something like "advice for teens writing novels". GTW was one of the first websites that I came across but-as much as I'm embarrassed to say it-I quickly clicked off of the site and went in search of other sites. At the time I didn't really understand what blogs were, so I think I clicked off GTW without looking around because the format was new to me. However, the other websites I found weren't helpful at all. Most of them weren't geared towards teens or they didn't have good advice. My search led me all the way back to GTW, and the second time around I looked around much more thoroughly. I learned about a blog and found advice specifically for teens who wanted to write a novel. It was amazing and I think in the span of two weeks I pretty much spent all time reading just about every single post in the archives. GTW has helped me finish my first novel, begin to tackle editing it and plot and begin drafting a second novel. Once I started commenting, I met so many other teen writers, participated in word wars (WHICH I AM OBSESSED WITH) and even started my own blog. It's been so wonderful having this site, and I know without a doubt that without GTW I would not be the writer I am today. Thanks so much for all you do for teen writers! I'm so glad that I came back to this blog after initially exiting out of it.

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    1. Word Wars ARE awesome!!! :)

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  23. I found GTW through a friend's blog. And man, I am SO glad I did. I feel like I have grown so much in my writing and I'm not as in the dark on editing, publishing and even writing in general. It's been a huge blessing to me and I recommend it to every writer I run into. :)

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  24. I discovered GTW in April of 2012, and I remember sitting on the couch and browsing through the archives. Since then, I've been reading the blog almost daily! The advice you give is so helpful, and the activities such as the 100-4-100 and the writing contests have improved my writing skills so much. I still flip through the GTW book quite frequently! Also, the writing community here is amazing. I've met so many incredible young writers and encountered new authors that I might not have discovered otherwise. Stephanie and Jill, thank you so, so much for taking the time to make this place the best it can be!

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  25. I discovered GTW fairly recently. I remember googling some writing question (I don't remember what it was), and I found the link to GTW and clicked on it. Ever since then, I was hooked. :) This blog not only helps me with my writing, it *inspires* me. I don't know what I'd do without GTW! :)

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  26. A few months ago, I was writing an essay on archetypes and google brought me to one of your blog posts. I think that I might have spent an hour procrastinating by exploring GTW and since then, I check back daily to read more blog posts on GTW.
    Thank you for GTW. It's taken me from someone who wanted to write to someone who writes.
    -Anchor

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  27. Somewhere between last year and this year a friend posted the GTW site. I looked around it a little bit, and I thought it to be the coolest thing in the whole world. And it has helped my writing a ton! Thank you so much! :3

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  28. I discovered GTW a few months ago when I was finishing up a creative writing project for a college course. (Library Technician's Diploma - the instructor said if we could come up with a polished short story in homage to a literary classic we'd get extra credit for the exam!) I'm not a teen but this blog has really fantastic, honest advice that resonates in my head a bit better than other places.
    Thank you for running such a great blog! :)

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  29. It was so fun to read your comments, guys!

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  30. I think I found Go Teen Writers through another blogger. I'm so glad I found it!

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