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Advice to a 12-year old writer

Advice to a 12-year old writer

A 12-year old boy is writing a book and asked me for inspiration.

There is so much right with that sentence that I have to break it into pieces.

  1. 12-year old boy: I have one of those (though he’s not this one). Check.
  2. Is writing: any writing, even scribbling, even with Crayolas, is good in my book. (“In my book.” Ha, little author humor there.)
  3. A book: not an essay for school, not spray painting on the school cafeteria, but a book. Whoa.
  4. Asked me: I’m always intrigued when kids ask adults stuff (well, apart from, “How much further until we get there?”).
  5. For inspiration: see points 1 through 4. I have an aircraft carrier’s worth of inspiration.

I couldn’t dream of a happier place.

At the party of an old friend, I met her 12-year old son. I have seen him over the years, but I certainly can’t say that I know him. Through Facebook and his mother, he heard of my recent deep dives into writing and when we met at this party, he couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm about this book that he’s writing.

If you’re not talking about it, people don’t know what you’re talking about.

Just a side note, but think about this. If I hadn’t “come out of the writing closet” as I like to call it, my old friend wouldn’t have known about my books that I’m writing with my kids, wouldn’t have told her son and her son’s conversation with me at the party might have been 3 sentences and 17 seconds long.

BONUS: although this is geared towards a 12-year old writer, here’s a little secret: these are applicable for writers of any age.

He wrote me thanking me for the gift I sent him and said that he was looking forward to reading my books and wanted to talk more about his.

This is what I wrote to him.

Here’s my quickest and greatest advice on your first book: Just Get It Done.

I don’t care if you think it’s terrible. I don’t even care if you think it’s the worst writing and story ever in the history of storytelling. I just want it out there and I want it out of your hands and out of your mind. I want this to be Book #1 of many to come in the future. But remember, you can’t get to Book #2 if Book #1 never gets finished. Also, if Book #1 is terrible, great news! Book #2 will be so much better. Do you see where I’m going with this? I just want you to finish.

7 Easy Steps to Getting your Book Done

  1. Give yourself a deadline for the publish date of the book. Not tomorrow, but not a year from now either. Somewhere in between.
  2. Finish writing. If it’s not done, the rest of this is moot. Make it happen. See #1 for inspiration.
  3. Read it over. BONUS: read it out loud to yourself. (This can be a little grueling, but it’s worth it. It will make it better, I promise.)
  4. Have someone else read it. Preferably not your parents and not a complete stranger. You’ll find the right person to read it (see #5).
  5. Talk about your book with others. This might also help you find someone for #4. TIP: don’t talk about this book that you might write or will be done with someday, talk about the book that will be available on Xxxxxber 17, 2016 (date of your choice) and practice #6.
  6. Write a book sales page. This might just be a single sentence. Who is the book for? What’s it about? The big question is: why should I read it? Is it exciting or educational or entertaining? What’s your hook? What is that one sentence in the LA Times going to say about your book? (NOTE: this can be really hard or really easy. If it’s really hard for you, step away and come back to it later. Another tip: Do more of #5 to help you with #6.)
  7. Start working on your next book. Even if you’re just thinking about it. This will help make Book #1 less of a “big deal.”

That’s it. Easy, right?

Keep me posted, I’m rooting for you. I’m on your team. I won’t let you not do this. Are you ready? I am.

What do you think? Can you, dear reader, handle what a 12-year old can handle?

  • Possible: write books
  • Impossible: hide, bury and protect your experiences and inspiration
  • Repossible: share your knowledge and experience with 12-year olds and inspire them to go further


  1. Writing Every Day Beyond 1,000 Posts - […] Advice to a 12-year old writer (Feb 27) […]

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