It’s exciting when your bookworm teen announces his or her plans to be a writer. But teenagers can be a finicky lot: if the adults in their lives are too excited or too supportive of a new goal, suddenly that aspiration is gone. (And having a teen with the writer’s temperament means you’re likely dealing with a moody teenager squared.)
Rather than bombard them with fancy pens and motivational reading, direct them to a comfort zone: the Internet. These sites are great resources and landing spots for future storytellers. Suggest them to your teen writer (or maybe just leave this list lying around somewhere where it’ll be seen).
Figment — Specially tailored for the teen reader/writer, Figment is a community dedicated to reading and writing stories online. Addictively fun, users can rate stories by whether they made them laugh, blush, cry, or just say “wow.” The site frequently runs contests and features work from well-known authors and editors who sometimes drop in for Figment chats with the site’s community.
Wattpad — The largest online reading platform, Wattpad is considered the YouTube of writing because it allows authors to share their work with the world. Well-known writers such as Margaret Atwood and Cory Doctorow even post their work here. Teens can find and follow their favorite authors and release their own works as serial novels. Access to an audience in the millions — the site has 25 million members, and that number is always growing — has led to big-name book deals for successful Wattpad authors.
Teen Ink — Supported by the nonprofit Young Authors Foundation, Teen Ink is the twenty-five-year veteran in the fostering-teen-writers game. The magazine, book series, and website are devoted entirely to writing, art, and photos by teens. It’s also a go-to for teens interested in writing and publishing nonfiction essays and articles as well as poetry.
One Teen Story — Direct kids here to introduce them to the nonprofit’s monthly magazine. Each issue features one short story about the teen experience, usually from a known young adult author. Teens drawn to the short story form can also submit their work for consideration in an annual issue that features a story written by a teen for teens.
NaNoWriMo — Short for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo is an awesome thirty-day adventure for any writer, but teens might be especially inclined to join. In November, would-be novelists the world over attempt to write a 50,000-word (or more, if they can do it) book in thirty days. For teens with pressing homework demands, the Young Writers Program might be a better fit, as it allows authors to set their own word-count goal to meet before the month is out.
Tumblr — The blogging platform is of course a wonderful place for self-expression, but it also doubles as a go-to for young literary enthusiasts, bookworms, and those in need of some writing motivation. Some to check out: The Writer’s Helpers (for advice on everything from grammar to plot); Writing Prompts (just what it says, provided in fun visual ways by a ninth-grade teacher); and John Green’s Tumblr (the Tumblr account of YA author John Green, which is just fun and inspiring).