Unscheduled, Unhindered, Unfinished
By Casey Bradford
We are pleased to introduce Casey Bradford, who was shortlisted for her novel Such a Time as This in our 2020 Braun Book Awards. As a young writer, we asked her to share some of her experiences and advice for other youth who have a passion for writing.
As a young author, you are constantly bombarded with suggestions and tips for your writing. Looking to the strategies of other, older authors can be encouraging, but it can also be intimidating. In the end, the only way to succeed in your writing is to write your own way. There are three things that have helped me with my writing; strategies that fly in the face of many widely accepted writing tips, but that nonetheless have worked for me!
Unscheduled: write when you feel like it.
Often, people will tell you to treat writing like a job, to set aside time for it every day, and make it part of your daily routine. Don’t do it. At this point, as a young author, you’re not writing to pay the rent. Enjoy that! When you have an idea, run with it, and when you feel the need to wait and recharge your creative juices, do that. By writing when you feel like it, you take the pressure off of writing, and allow yourself to continue enjoying it as a hobby.
Unhindered: write what you want.
Again, people will tell you to write what you know, and in general, that is a good rule. However, as a young author, you’re still learning what you’re interested in, and by writing different genres and storylines, you gain experience. Once again, because you’re writing for pleasure, not money, this can influence your stories. Write what you want, and let those experiences shape which genres you enjoy writing, without having the constraint of lack of knowledge. If you don’t know something, look it up! Researching for writing is a great way to learn new facts and information. Don’t let a lack of knowledge keep you from writing.
Unfinished: don’t be afraid to not finish.
As authors, we want to finish our stories! The very nature of our work is to craft a story from beginning to end, and leaving something unfinished can feel like a failure. Changing that mentality is key to writing. Unfinished does not equal failure. Sometimes, plots, characters, or settings do not turn out the way we had hoped, and setting such a story aside does not amount to failure. Instead, take the skills you’ve learned and apply them to another story. Occasionally, the right story may not turn out in the moment, but by setting it aside and allowing yourself and the story to mature, you give yourself the chance to succeed later. Perhaps you simply need more life experience before you can write such a plot, or perhaps you need time to allow the plot to crystalize before writing it. Even if neither of these ends up happening, the point is that leaving something unfinished does not determine your ability or inability as a writer.
Overall, the main piece of advice I would tell young authors is simply to write! If you are writing, you are getting better. If you never put pen to paper and words to page, your writing dreams will stay just that: dreams. Don’t be afraid to start and not finish. Don’t be afraid to start even if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into. Don’t be afraid to take a break if the ideas just aren’t flowing. Whatever worries you about writing, toss it aside and just write!
About this Contributor:
Casey Bradford is twenty years old, but has been writing since she was eight. Stacked up in her closet are binders full of stories, finished and unfinished. She published her very first book (Such a Time as This) this year, and is excited to have a book with her name on it on her bookshelf! She is a small-town girl with the travel bug, and hopes to publish more in the future.