Writing help for older teens

Writing help for older teens

Hi Julie,

I’ve been rereading your blog the last several weeks as I am new to Brave Writer. How do you enlist your teen’s interest in becoming a competent writer? My son is almost 17 and sees no purpose in writing because he believes he will not need to use it in his future (even though he isn’t sure what he wants to do). I have tried to persuade him – not in a lecturing way – but he just doesn’t see it. We read a lot. I have read aloud to him for years and he reads on his own, but not much for pleasure because he’s busy reading assigned stuff – including good literature.

I hope that’s enough background for you to answer (if you choose to).

My children and I have recently started having tea time and the really enjoy that – especially my younger two. The older one joins in on his own terms.


Hi Lorri!

It’s pretty tough to get a seventeen year old to see anything that we think they should see. So it may be “too late” for the input to come from you. Is he planning to go to college? If so, he’ll need to write a college application essay. He’ll need to write essays for the SAT or ACT. Sometimes these are motivating enough to take a class or to work on the essay form. He may need to write for an application for scholarships or for an internship. These are real world needs and may be more motivating to him than academic purposes.

Also there is a difference between being motivated and not liking writing. Is it possible that he has never enjoyed writing so he doesn’t know that it can be enjoyable or even satisfying? If that is the case, then we can attack it from another angle. He may need to be given opportunities for writing that are pleasurable.

For instance, does he play online games? There are bulletin boards (forums) where gamers discuss their games. He can read and participate in these.

Perhaps he’d enjoy creative writing prompts or even the chance to use writing to promote his favorite films (through a blog or on his Facebook account).

Writing, for teens, has to be something they choose.

It’s nearly impossible to “get them” to write. So whenever you can, you want to focus on the real world and how writing fits into it. If they still refuse, you can feel good that you’ve made your case and that that same real world will either validate your concerns (and then your kid will suddenly want to write and may ask for help!) or you’ll find out that you were worried for nothing! (I actually had the latter experience with my son. Every time I forecasted doom for his future, his future changed and my dire predictions were false.)

By this stage, the best thing to do for your kids is to support them, give them guidance and then allow them to discover what it is they want and how to get there.


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One Response to “Writing help for older teens”

  1. Amy says:

    I just wanted to say that first off I love Julie’s blog and her insights on children and writing.
    She is right on when she says eventually the real world will either validate the need for writing or you’ll see that your worries were for naught! 🙂
    I can say this because my oldest son (17) who is a budding guitarist and has started his own worship band (a route I would never have dreamed years ago he would be venturing down!) came to me the other day and out of the blue said he wanted to take a poetry class. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I said, okay let’s see what we can find. He explained that because he is wanting to write songs and doesn’t feel he is a good writer he thought a poetry class would help. Pretty preceptive I thought, and wow he is actually directing his educational path.

    So, all that to say, Lorri, take heart. Look at your son and his path in life. What are his passions and interests? Does he have a goal in mind that he wants to pursue after high school? I can say with confidence right now that they WILL learn what they need WHEN they need it. But I know how hard it is to sit back and trust in that.