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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Flashwrite #6: Advice for Young Writers

I had plenty more to say on each of these points, but I thought I’d keep it short and sweet. Here’s a beloved book that has “mentored” me, and I’ll be blogging more soon about my own formative adventures. This episode was inspired by Brian’s blog post for his son Ty on the occasion of his departure for college (you can see the seeds of this video in the comment I left), Ellie and Maddy (whom I had the great privilege of knowing in my library writing workshop), and the boys at St. Lawrence (especially Kaspar, who took the time to drop me a note last week).

Write an email to your future self at It will be delivered to your inbox at whatever point in time you choose.

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I’d like to offer some advice for young writers (and by “young writers,” I mean writers of all ages, but this advice is especially for teens and college students).

1.  It’s pretty obvious, but I think it warrants repeating: read voraciously! Let your favorite books be your greatest teachers. Find out who your favorite authors are, and consider them your mentors.

2.  Go out into the world and have as many adventures as you can, as early as you can. Conquer your fear and do it anyway. Getting out of your comfort zone is huge (and it’s a big part of growing up in general). The great thing about going out and having adventures is, not only are you having that wonderful experience and enjoying yourself tremendously, but as a writer, you’ll be accumulating a rich store of experience that you can draw from later on.

3.  This is the most important. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to be realistic. Don’t listen to them! Something happens in the course of some people’s lives, where they look at other people who are going after their dreams, and they get petty, they get jealous—because you, as someone who is going after your dream, are reminding them that they’re not going after theirs. Obviously that’s their problem, not yours. So be brave! Go after it. Do it. Don’t worry about what anybody says. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t listen to anyone who would really prefer that you kept yourself small so that they don’t have to feel bad for not going after their dreams.

For this time, I have a really fun exercise: if you go to, you can write a letter to your future self, and it will be emailed to you at any point in the future that you designate. It could be a year, or up to fifty or (I think) sixty years. So go there, write yourself an email, and talk about your dreams. Ask your future self, have I achieved this? Think about all of the things that you might not even conceive of right now, wonderful things that will happen in your future. I think that you will be amazed when that email comes back to you in ten years’ time, twenty years’ time (or whatever amount of time you designate)—I think you’ll be surprised at how many of your dreams have come true. It’s pretty awesome. (I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m really excited to do it.) That tip came to me from my friend Elizabeth:, your suggested exercise for this week.

So go for it, be brave, and thank you for watching!

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Next week I’ll be showing you how to “mind map.” Really jazzed for that one!

(All Flashwrite entries here.)

3 Comments to Flashwrite #6: Advice for Young Writers

  1.'s Gravatar
    November 12, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Came across your post this morning completely by accident. Or, if you believe in fate, or serendipity, then there is that also. Haven’t clicked on my Google Reader for a couple months. But found my mouse lingering in the general vicinity of the button so I hit it. And there you are, with this . . .
    “Don’t listen to anyone who would really prefer that you kept yourself small so that they don’t have to feel bad for not going after their dreams.”
    I fall into this. See the success, or just the genuine efforts, of others, and begin the task of ticking off the thousands of ways I imagine they have it better than me. I belittle their sticktuitiveness as advantage and not as the hard work and gumption that it really is. I mentally drag them down to my depths and deny them their passion.
    Such silliness.
    When will I set aside the things I allow to hold me down?
    Humbling, as always . . .

  2. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    November 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Funny thing, Brian: it is so BIG of you to recognize that impulse in yourself.
    Now go for it. 😉

  3. crazyliberalkate's Gravatar crazyliberalkate
    November 19, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of It’s as close to time traveling as I think I will ever get. I really like it and need to try it out…although I’ll need to make sure I keep crazyliberalkate in 60 years 😉

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.