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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Debbie Ridpath Ohi FAQ > For Teachers and Librarians > What advice would you give a young writer who is nervous about other people reading his/her work someday?

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This is a list of questions I am frequently asked. Here's a list of links to my more popular pages. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie


Q. What advice would you give a young writer who is nervous about other people reading his/her work someday?


I don't blame you for being a little worried! I felt the same way when I was your age. In fact, I STILL feel that way sometimes when I'm working on my books. What if people don't like it? What if they say nasty things about my books? What if my book is rejected?

What helps, I find, is to focus on what you're writing and what it is about why you love to write. It's no use to worry about what people are going to say; that's out of your control. Plus remember: there will ALWAYS be people who don't like what you create. But (and this is a very important BUT) there will also ALWAYS be people who love what you create.

Think about the books you read, for example. You like some books, don't like others. Whether or not you enjoy a book depends a lot of what kind of books you like to read, but also what kind of mood you're in when you read it, what you've read in the past, what you feel like reading now. It'll be the same when other people read your books; so much depends on personal taste.

Now that I have my own books out there in the world, I have read reviews and comments from people who loved my books but also from people who didn't like them. The negative comments always hurt, of course. I don't pretend they don't.

What I do with the negativestuff: I give myself maximum one day to wallow in self-pity but then I force myself to MOVE ON. I collect all the nice things that people say about my work and re-read those, which helps.

Getting all kinds of feedback, negative and positive, is part of being a professional author and/or illustrator. One thing you can do as a young author/illustrator to prepare for that: be aware of how you react when someone criticizes you. Develop a thick skin. Think before you react to a negative comment, especially if that person is honestly trying to help you, and even if you don't necessarily agree with their comment.

Another piece of advice for a young writer: Surround yourself with SUPPORTIVE people who understand your work and encourage you. If a friend is constantly saying negativestuff about your work, even if they mean well, then perhaps that particular friend is not the right person from whom to get feedback. Remember what I said about personal reading tastes? 

My biggest piece of advice for young writers, 12 and under: Just WRITE. Write anything you want, whatever you enjoy writing. The more you write, the better you'll get. You don't have to show your writing to anyone. I have written an entire novel which I never ended up sending out to publishers because I wasn't happy with it...and that's okay. It wasn't a waste of time because I learned a lot while I was writing it.

And good luck!



Last updated on June 1, 2015 by Debbie Ohi