What I’ve learned from working with a group of young writers:

Last year at the high school that I used to work at I tried to get a creative writing program going. It just never happened. There wasn’t enough interest, and it’s really unfortunate because there they had a dedicated time for clubs. Now, at my new school, I have about fifteen learners who love to write. They come to meetings in the morning before school and after school. They love it so much that several of them are participating in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program. One learner, who is seriously my hero, is participating in both the YWP and the adult program, and she’s already written over 30,000 words!

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Seriously. She has written way more words than I have! Other learners are right on track to finish on time. They come in and they write and they write at home and it is such a wonderful experience to be working with such wonderful young people. They have so much fun just hanging out, and it honestly makes me a little jealous. Going to such a small school, I’m pretty sure I was the only one who was even remotely interested in creative writing. I never had a community like they do! I know, I’m getting a little gushy about how awesome my learners are, but I just feel like I can’t compliment them enough!

So, some lessons that I have learned from this rag-tag group of ninth graders that share a passion for writing creatively:

1. It’s okay if you don’t hit every topic on the agenda, because sometimes just building the relationships is more important.
2. Never, ever, ever forget to laugh, especially at yourself.
3. When all else fails, write it down. You’ll feel better.
4. Don’t miss out on the small moments.
5. Smile, even when you’re behind on your word count.
6. Begin, again and again and again until you get it right.
7. Write for writing’s sake, not for publishing.

That is just seven things. If I paid more attention in meetings instead of laughing at their madness, I could give you more. I cannot tell you how wonderful of an experience it is to write with these kids. They invigorate my own writing life because I don’t want to let them down! I want them to know that chasing your dreams is a worthy goal, and that sometimes it takes years to do so!

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So, my advice to you:

Whatever it is that makes you tick. Whatever it is that makes life worth living. Whatever it is that you wake up in the dead of night thinking about or that you find yourself daydreaming about, chase it. It doesn’t matter if you are fourteen and fifteen years old like my students, or twenty-four and still trying to find success. Whether it is running, writing, reading, cooking, baking, teaching, crafting, it doesn’t matter. Chase it down.

What are you chasing down?

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