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Creative Confidence

Creative Confidence

Guest post on confidence by Lauren-Kate Stewart (age 12)

[Editors Note: This is the first in a trilogy of posts on confidence, vision and purpose, written by two young girls, each published authors, and a mother who not only influenced her young daughter’s writing, but who herself (also a published author) was inspired by her daughter to continue her own writing journey, too. Each of the three posts reflect the power and importance of mentoring, role models and peer support in encouraging women and girls to develop their own talents and live their own voice out loud.]

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I’m Lauren-Kate. I’m 12 years old and I’m the author of two published books.  If you told me two years ago that I would have two published novels I would have said you were crazy.  I didn’t have any of the qualities that I thought a writer needed to have.  I couldn’t type or spell. I would forget punctuation and capitalization constantly, and it was physically painful to write.  Just writing a paragraph was painful and slow. My writing didn’t even line up along the margin of the page and usually looked like an upside down triangle.

Even though I did well in my schoolwork, the only thing I thought I was really good at was making worlds.  I would take over the dining room table and pull out my many Lego sets, Play Mobil sets, plastic animals, dollhouse, doll people, furniture and anything else I thought I might use. There would be forests and palaces and towns and farms. There was usually a system of money, all of the people had different names, and I could play there for hours weaving their stories and creating different lives for each character in my world.

When mom told me that she thought it would be good for me to start this writing class with a friend I thought that it was going to be the most horrible class ever. I couldn’t even write a page, much less a book. I didn’t expect it to be a real book of course, maybe just 20 pages in a binder.

For the first few weeks we did character development, learned about plot, talked about our ideas for stories and wrote chapter titles.  Our first writing assignment was to write the first chapter of our books.  That week, I came in with only a single page – the result of many hours spent on my bed writing painfully slow, while the other girl in the class came in with a stack of finished, typed pages. My one handwritten, sloppy, upside down triangle-shaped page seemed a very poor comparison.

It felt a lot like the time at school when a teacher moved me and another boy across the room to a table away from the other kids’ reading group because they could all read better than we could. Yeah, I was a really late reader too – almost nine before I could read fluently (but I made up for it during that time by listening to tons of audio books by authors like G.A. Henty and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

My teacher asked me if I wanted to try dictating my story to my mom instead of trying to write it by hand.  I told her I would try but secretly I thought that it wouldn’t work and that it was a really crazy idea.  At first it felt very odd to be dictating to my mom.  Her rule was that all she would do is type exactly what I said and only add periods and capital letters.  After she had typed it, I had to go through and add all the commas, paragraph marks and other punctuation.  All my mom would ever say when I was writing was, “Slow down please,” “Wait!” and “Repeat that please.”

The next class, I came in with 10 pages. It wasn’t just my first chapter. It was my prologue, my first chapter and my second. Now, writing class wasn’t just a pain and something I dreaded going to. Writing class was fun and interesting.  After a few months my first draft was finished. All 80 pages of it. And I thought that, you know, that was the end of writing a book. I thought that was all there was to it. I was SO wrong.

Our teacher announced the next week that it was time to start editing our books. She had taken our first drafts and made comments and suggested changes. She handed us back our edited copies, when I got home and looked at the first page I thought I would never get through editing all of it.  It felt like I had written a horrible book to need that many changes even though my teacher had told us that all writers, even adults received lots of edits and their first drafts were never perfect.

Over the next six months of editing, I came to realize that the edits made my book more interesting and began to notice all of the nice comments that my teacher wrote praising me for good dialogue or descriptive words. It wasn’t just one round of edits, there were three or four different rounds of edits and critiques.  After a while, I wasn’t depressed when I saw all the crossed out words, punctuation corrections and little notes in the margins.  I had learned that my work didn’t have to be perfect the first time and that was ok.

Finally, after months of editing, my teacher said my manuscript was ready to submit for publication. When my proof copy arrived I was excited and surprised that my book looked just like the ones you can buy in the bookstore. It wasn’t perfect, but it still felt amazing to have a real book.

Since finishing my first book I’ve sold it at multiple craft shows and book stores, been interviewed, spoken on an author panel, sold books on Amazon, created a website and written my second novel. This journey of writing books has shown me that I can do things I didn’t believe I could do even when I don’t think I have the qualities needed for them.  I was very lucky to have a teacher who believed in me and helped me to believe in myself.  She showed me that there isn’t just one way to do everything.  Am I always self confident? No, sometimes even in my writing I don’t feel confident. My self confidence is still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.

**

What advice do you have for young girls who may be struggling to develop the confidence to find their own voice? It’s okay if your way of doing things isn’t everyone else’s way. And know that things don’t have to be perfect the first time.

Lauren-Kate Stewart, a 12-year-old, homeschooled author, has written two books Commander You You and the Imperial Diamond and Commander You You and the Time Penny. When not doing schoolwork, she enjoys fencing, reading, rock climbing and exploring the woods with her friends. Lauren-Kate lives in North Carolina with her parents and cat Fluffy. For more information about Lauren-Kate, see her website: www.laurenkatestewart.com.
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23 Comments

  1. WOW!! Lauren Kate, you are one impressive young woman! I can’t wait to show this to Abby and David. They LOVED your novels! You inspire them! And me! Wait to go, kiddo! Big cyber hug coming your way!

    • Thank you Miss Molly! Abby and David are a big inspiration in my writing. I miss them so much and writing them into my books helps me miss them a little bit less. Please come visit again soon!

  2. This is quite a journey, Lauren-Kate! I too am a writer and have loved writing and have written stories since 4th grade. I’m now 40 and I’m still writing, but it’s curriculum for homeschoolers. Sydney is in my online science classes and I’ve learned about your blog through her.

    I’m very impressed with both of you young ladies. When I was your age, we didn’t have the Internet or ability to self-publish like we do today. What a great age we live in now where we can really get our work out there…and at such a young age. Great and inspiring job!

  3. Lauren-Kate, Thank you for sharing your process of writing. It was very informative to learn that some writers don’t sit and a computer and just write their book! It sounds like you are not only creative, but disciplined. Wishing you success in your next challenge, Audrey

  4. Love this, Lauren-Kate! My own daughter is a little younger than you, she is incredibly creative and her writing experience sounds a lot like yours. I’m going to share your post with her to share your story with her and I think it will definitely have an impact on the way she views writing and what’s possible for her to achieve as well. Confidence comes from within but this will help many start to believe that they can do it too. Thanks!

  5. Lauren Kate: What a fabulous article. I loved reading your journey through writing. I enjoyed your first book so much. It is very creative, and I look forward to reading your second. In the meantime, this article on confidence and how you got there is inspiring. Congratulations!!!

  6. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. If I had had the confidence you have gained, I probably wouldn’t have waited quite so long to begin my writing career. The message your shared is important to people of all ages.

    • Thank you for reading my piece. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Good luck with your writing!

  7. Uncle Jean & Aunt Betty are VERY impressed with your confidence and writing skills… We look forward to reading future stories… Best wishes… J & B

    • Thanks Uncle Jean and Aunt Betty! I’m starting on my third book soon and I’ll send you a copy when it’s finished. Hope to see you this summer!

  8. What a beautiful piece of writing! Even as an adult, it’s great to be reminded that you can so anything as long as you are focused and dedicated! You are such a great inspiration to women of all ages! Love you bunches!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed my piece.I’m so excited about seeing you this summer! ( or maybe sooner? hint… hint…)

  9. Lauren-Kate I am so impressed that a girl your age has grown and persevered through the writing and publishing of two novels. You have inspired me to be more encouraging and supportive of my grandson that is your age. By the way, I very much enjoyed “Commander You You and the Imperial Diamond”! Best of luck in your future endeavors.

    • Thank you! It was hard work but writing is so much fun. I’m so glad you enjoyed my first book too!

  10. Lauren Kate – I loved reading your article! The story of how you learned to write by dictating your story to your mom really shows that there are many ways to succeed, and the key is not to give up, but to find the way that works for you. I enjoyed reading your book — you have a fabulous imagination! Hugs, Lisa Kline

  11. Wow. Cool Story! I think every girl who has trouble writing or is frustrated with writing should speak to their parents like you did. They will help you. Kids will find their own voice, be a better person, and get things done the way they want. It could also help them be a faster learner. Your story has inspired me and made me feel good. I am 11 years old. Someday I’d like to write a book like you did. Thank you! Ellie

  12. Hi Lauren-Kate, I’m a friend of Sydney’s mom, and a writer and a writing teacher like she is, too. I love your story about how your first book came to be — it is so inspiring to see how much courage and perseverance you showed all along the way! And I loved hearing about the worlds you built on your dining room table — writing books is just another way to build worlds, right? It’s exciting to hear that you are now working on your third book. Wishing you great success, and fun every step of the way!
    Maureen Ryan Griffin, http://www.wordplaynow.com

  13. You are such an inspiration! It was wonderful reading about your experience as a first time author. I think it is so important that other young women know that your accomplishment was achieved by overcoming some very real obstacles. Love you! Well done!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Envisioning My Dream | The Global Girls Project - […] Sydney was in a writing class with her friend Lauren-Kate who also wrote two books (see her story under…
  2. Empowered Purpose: How My Writing Students Inspired Me | The Global Girls Project - […] Note: This is the third in a trilogy of posts on confidence, vision and purpose, written by two young…

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