Some tips for young writers

Written by Sam Smith in 2017 as part of a local Maine high school writing contest

Writing isn’t about winning; it’s about saying things that others understand, learn from and appreciate. They may be your class mates rather than just some old judges. So just keep writing

Writing is a trade or craft not a profession. You don’t need to go to grad school to learn how to write. In one publication I edited, we ran a column by a guy in prison. In another by an old lady who just knew how to tell stories. Writers are all over the place.

Even if you don’t become a writer, writing can still help – assisting a lawyer convince a jury, explaining an illness to a patient, describing a research result. Good writing teaches you to speaka da United States, and avoid the foreign languages of academia, technocracy, and corporations.

Don’t use too many adjectives and, as an English teacher wisely noted, you are allowed only five exclamation points in a lifetime. Use them carefully.

If you’re having a hard time, write for one reader: a friend, a relative, your child, Barack Obama. This helps remove the speechifying and makes the task less confusing.

If you suffer from writer’s block, just sit down and write crap. Pay no attention to style, content, or spelling. Just write something from your heart. Then read it again tomorrow and save all the good stuff and try again.

Stories are almost always more interesting than opinions. Use the southern approach and argue by anecdote.

If you don’t enjoy what you’ve written, chances are others won’t either.

And if you want a worthy goal I offer AJ Liebling’s who said, “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.”