Why I write for teens

I didn't plan to write for young adults when I started writing, but when I sat down to write a book, the story that I needed to tell was about teens.  It was about navigating first love, lust and jealousy.  I fell in love for the first time when I was sixteen, and I've always felt connected to that time in my life emotionally.  I think that I write for teens because in many ways, I've never grown up.

Don't tell anyone, but being emotionally stunted has its advantages. Channeling my inner teen helps me in more ways than just nailing a voice or tone of a story.  It helps me survive this writing journey.  It helps me navigate my adult life.

My inner teen dreams big.  She still believes that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it.  While I've experienced setbacks and tragedies and heartbreak along the way, I don't let it keep me from pursuing my dream.  Some would call this naive, but I call it optimistic. This optimism kept me writing when I thought I would never finish a book.  It kept me querying in the face of rejection.  It gave me courage to rewrite when I knew my story wasn't working.  And it keeps me motivated to learn more, get better, and just keep going.

My inner teen is a hopeless romantic.  Writing for teens allows me to reconnect with the intensity of first love, first lust, first heartbreak.  As adults, we get so busy with work, errands, bills, kids, carpools, chores, and everything else that goes into maintaining our lives, that we sometimes forget to pause and really connect with our significant others.  Writing for teens reminds me to appreciate the people I love.  To love them.

My inner teen has room to grow.  I love seeing my characters grow emotionally through a novel, but what has surprised me the most is how much my characters have allowed me to grow by showing me things about myself and what's important to me.  Themes and emotional arcs appear and reappear on the page unexpectedly, helping me to understand myself and how my own experiences have shaped the person I've been and am becoming.  Who needs a psychiatrist, when you can read and analyze your own stories?

My inner teen isn't afraid to take on world.  She says what she feels.  She rails against injustice.  She doesn't back away from a challenge because it would be easier to do so.  She reminds me that some things are worth fighting for, and that the status quo can be changed. She reminds me to challenge myself. To be a better writer.  To be a better person.

My inner teen is less about who I used to be, and more of a reminder of who I want to be. And that, I think, is the real reason I write for teens. 


I'm the same way. I'm taking a writing course and decided to do one of the assignments from an adult pov. Didn't work. I NEEDED to write from a teen pov. It's what is most natural for me.

"My inner teen is less about who I used to be, and more of a reminder of who I want to be."

I LOVE THAT! So respectful and full of pride - both to adults who love YA (instead of making them feel juvenile or silly for feeling fondness for an age they've psased) and the young adults (who are often overlooked or talked down to or made to feel that their dreams are silly or naive.)

Thanks for that.

Wonderful post. Very inspiring words from you and your inner teen. Optimism is so important. Thanks for the reminder.

Love those last lines, Talia, and I completely agree.

I agree with everyone--those last lines are beautiful.

Worthy of framing and hanging over your desk :-)

Thanks for the lovely comments. Teens are so full of hope and promise and so many of us can lose sight of that as we get older, but we always have room to grow.

Inspiring post, Talia; I'm bookmarking this one. Love the idea of the inner teen as fiercely optimistic. I can relate to this.

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