Friday, July 4, 2014

Writing Still Matters

A funny thing happens when I tell people I'm a Young Adult author. Too often the response is something along the lines of "that's nice, too bad kids don't read anymore" followed by "and they think texting is writing, so say goodbye to books in the future."

Now those of us entrenched in this KidLit world immediately want to scoff at such absurdity. But I also know that sometimes when you are in the bubble, it's hard to see past the bubble. So I did some Googling to see who's right.

And our little KidLit bubble is not the one being popped. I write more about the results here, but for now, let me assure you that teens are reading and teens are writing--and not just via texts.

Not only do teens believe writing is important, they actually don’t consider their social media interactions to be writing. And this is the best part, the books of the future are safe because teens also want to write creatively. They are especially motivated to write creatively when they get to choose their own topics and receive feedback from engaged adults.

Aha, and that's where we come in. This means if we want teens today to write the books of tomorrow, we have a role to play.

This makes me even more excited to be a member of the Freshman Fifteens. Way before I found this study about teen writing, our group of fifteen authors with Young Adult books debuting in 2015 had made working with teen readers and writers our core mission.

Freshman Fifteens and Wattpad Partner in Teen Mentoring Contest

Our first joint project is underway right now. We have partnered with Wattpad, a community of more than 25 million readers and writers, to give teens the unique experience of what it’s like to be a debut author.

In the contest, dubbed COMMON ROOM, the winning teen writers will experience the process of having a book published, from the “query” stage where they pitch us their short story idea, to getting their “deal” when a Freshman Fifteens author selects them as their mentee, to working with their author as they would a book editor, going through two rounds of revisions, through the copy edit stage, cover reveal, release date, and—finally!—book launch.

The finished collection of fictional short stories will be published as an anthology, titled COMMON ROOM, on Wattpad, debuting in January 2015.

After finding this study, we are even more thrilled to be serving as mentors and will be running more projects this year and next to help make sure those books of the future keep on coming.

If you are inspired by these statistics, get out there and find a teen of your own to mentor. Go the local route by putting the word out at your nearby libraries and high schools. Or put out a call on social media and donate your time to critique a teen’s short story or chapter. Even better, hop on Wattpad, where millions of teens are writing every day. Read a story or two and leave a comment. Give that much needed feedback from an engaged adult.

The COMMON ROOM contest is accepting entries from teens ages 13-19 through July 25, 2014.

Full details on the contest including all the dates and how to enter can be found here. Or just swing by Wattpad and type “Freshman Fifteens COMMON ROOM Teen Mentoring Contest” into the search field.

The Freshman Fifteens would love it if you’d join our cause and help spread the word to all the teen writers you know and love!

Follow me on Twitter or my Web site and the Freshman Fifteens on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or our blog to find out more about the winners and read their stories in the COMMON ROOM anthology in January.

Lori Goldstein is the author of Becoming Jinn (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, Spring 2015, sequel, Spring 2016). With a degree in journalism and more than 10 years of experience, Lori is a freelance copyeditor and manuscript consultant for all genres. She focuses on the nitty-gritty, letting writers focus on the writing.

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