I'm Glad I Wasn't a Teen Author

31 January 2020

I had one goal as a middle schooler. I had one dream that consumed my mind and motivated me in my early days of writing: I wanted to publish a book. But more than that, I wanted to publish a book as a teenager, to be the youngest author on the New York Times Best Seller list. While this lofty goal had an arrogance to it that I didn't recognize as a young writer, it wasn't pride that built up this dream for me. It was the fear that I would only be successful as a writer if I was able to achieve greatness at a young age.

I had no confidence in my actual writing abilities. I knew I had peers who were incredibly gifted, and that my stories and prose paled in comparison to them. I felt like I almost didn't deserve to be published when there were so many better authors out there, but this made me want it all the more. In my mind, I thought that being published young would be a way I could prove to myself and everyone else that I was a good writer, that I was just as talented as my friends. I somehow didn't think anyone would care about a book I had written, unless it came with the impressive asterisk that I was published young. However, this race against time to write a story for publication ultimately caused more harm than good in my development as a writer.

Wanting to be published is great motivation for budding writers. There's nothing wrong with wanting to see your name in print, to physically hold your work in your hands, to want to share your story with the world. I still to this day would love to publish something. My problem when I was young was the strict time frame I felt like I had to follow in order to amount to anything.

I watched as other young authors entered the spotlight, in traditional and self publishing. I wanted to join their ranks, but I was frustrated that I couldn't crank out a bunch of writing and actually finish a book. Instead of working to cultivate my writing voice, or to take my time developing characters and a well constructed story, I was discouraged and thought I just couldn't write fast enough. I was ceaselessly comparing myself to other writers my age. In the end, my writing went stagnant, life got busy, and I left my teenage years without a published novel under my name.

In hind sight, thinking back on my growth as a writer and looking at who I am now, I am so incredibly thankful that I didn't get a book published in my teen years. While there are talented teenage authors out there, I know now that I was simply not ready to push a book out into the world at that time. Instead of continuously forcing myself to spill words on a page just for the sake of being published someday, I have new priorities as a writer in my early twenties.

I have learned that it's better to take my time writing. If I were to ever publish a novel, I would want to put my heart and soul into getting the words just right, no matter how long it takes. I ultimately want to be so passionate about a story that it shines through my writing. I don't care about getting praise from people just because I'm young. I don't care as much about acceptance from my peers. I would just be excited to be able to project even one singular voice into the vast, dense world of literature. I've been spending more time practicing the art of writing instead of researching literary agents and publishing houses, and I'm beginning to see the spark of joy that writing and constructing stories used to give me.

Reevaluating goals and finding new dreams is an important part of maturing. I don't know if I'll ever publish a book in my life. But if I do, I'm going to take my time to write something I'm proud of, to remember to savor the journey, and not get hung up on time lines and unachievable dreams of grandeur.


  1. This is beautiful, and I totally relate. What a great post!

  2. Oh my goodness. This is just a beautiful, relatable post and I LOVE the message you conveyed! The most important thing about writing is definitely loving it because of the magic it sparks in you, not just because you want to be revered in the world. Thank you for writing this <333