Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writing YA: Finding Your Inner Teenager


Every year I find the gap between my teenage years and my current life as a writer growing. As a YA writer I want for my teen readers to connect with my books, and to do that I need to believably write from the perspective of a teen. But, sometimes I wonder how in touch with today’s teens I really am.

This is a photo of me at 17 that a friend turned into a piece of art in high school.
I’m nearly ten years removed from most of my characters. And, sure I’m not exactly a “grown up” yet. I’m still dragging my feet when it comes to the idea of getting a “real job”, I haven’t gotten married or bought a house. I still remember what it was like to be in high school, but a lot of things have changed since then.

For example: When I was in high school…

-Sexting – didn’t exist. Sure we would text, but texting was expensive and if your phone happened to have a camera (yes, they once made phones without cameras) the resolution was so terrible it wasn’t even worth taking pictures. Not to mention no one had wifi on their phone. You couldn’t instantly upload things to Facebook, and electronics like the I-Pad didn’t exist.

-Justin Bieber – thankfully wasn’t “discovered” until after I graduated high school. He was only about 8 years old when I was a freshman. On that same note I didn’t have “awesome” role models like Kim Kardashian or Miley Cyrus either.

-Twitter, Tumbler, and Facebook – were not even on my radar. I had a Myspace account.

-Snapchatting – yeah, I still don’t really understand that one.

Despite feeling out of the loop when it comes to some of the things teens do and like these days, I like to think that some things will always remain true. There are certain milestones that one passes in high school that will endure the test of time. These are the things that make writing YA so much fun. When I was a teenager, just like teens today I dealt with pressure from my parents and from my friends. I felt like my friends were my entire life.

I had my first kiss, my first relationship. I went to football games and Prom. I got my driver’s license. I made good choices and I made bad ones. I tried out for the school play and I skipped class. I tried out for POMS (didn’t make it) and I snuck out at night. I went to concerts, parties, dances. I dealt with the cliques and found my own way.

I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how different teens may seem to be now compared to how they were ten years ago, or even twenty years ago, really it’s all the same. 

Technology will change, fashions will change, but the wants and needs of teenagers will stay the same.

Teens today have “Pretty Little Liars” I had “The OC”. We still both had our shows. Teens use talk to text. I had T9, but I didn’t use it that much because I had AIM. We still both felt the need to be constantly connected to our friends. Teens today have I-pods. I had awesome mixed CD’s. We still both loved music.

In the end no matter what generation you’re from, being a teen means growing up. It means learning who you are, and that is exactly what I like to write about.

My cork-board in my old bedroom.

If you liked this blog post, you might also enjoy "Confessions of a Young Adult"