Guest post from Caroline Brown - a High School student at Pocahontas High School.
Trying to write anything in high school is like a runaway train in a movie: no one's in control, there's always a bridge out, and you never know where you're going to end up.
Most high school students don't think about writing. There is simply too much to do: sports, drama, music, homework, and relationships. High school students have enough to worry about without attempting to learn a craft. Most are focused on planning their future, not about creating worlds.
However, there are a few high school students who try to learn the craft, despite complicated schedules. I happen to be one of those. As a full-time high school student involved in more activities than I can count, it's safe to say I've picked up a few tips on the runaway train of life.
1) Procrastination = Evil
Honestly, if you have three essays, two assignments, and a speech due tomorrow, you probably procrastinated as some point in the last week or so. What happens when you procrastinate? Things build up, causing stress and frustration. Ultimately, procrastination destroys your creativity and your sanity. Neither is recommended by any means. Take things step by step, and don't push things off to the last minute.
2) Prioritization is a needed skill
"Get your priorities straight!" We've all heard the age-old gripe, and we all know it's a lot easier to say than do. More often than not, many important things need to be done at the same time. Everyone expects them done. It doesn't matter if you haven't seen a bed in three days. It's important to find what projects will take the longest to complete, when each of them are due, and rank them in order of urgency.
3) You can't do it all
We all want to do as much as we possibly can, but sometimes we overestimate ourselves. There are only 24 hours in a day, and most people need at least 5 of those to sleep. Taking on too much responsibility is just as detrimental as failing to prioritize. As much as we don't want to admit it, there are somethings we just can't do by ourselves. It's okay to let other people help.
4) Just breath
Sometimes, schedules get so full we forget about ourselves. Work (or school) takes over everything, never giving us the chance to breathe. If there is anything I have learned, it's that going for fifteen hours straight can be more harmful than productive. Taking a break, even five minutes can be the difference between finishing a project and ending up in a ball of tears.
5) Don't be afraid of help
Balancing school and writing can be very overwhelming. There are times when you get home at 11:00 P.M. and still have homework due the next day. Running on limited sleep for weeks at a time can destroy anyone's willpower. I've had breakdowns at midnight because I can't figure out how to solve a problem in Pre-Calculus. Something everyone has to realize is there are people who can help. School, work, and writing can be harder than we like to admit, but we don't have to do it alone. The teacher will be there to help you solve the problem. Co-workers can give feedback and help you. Writers can find resources everywhere, at any time of day. Help is available.
6) Never give up
I'm not going to lie, there have been times where I have wanted to give up, both in school and in writing. I've been told my writing will get me nowhere, and my dreams will never support me. It's taken me years to overcome these fears and start to take writing more seriously. Even now, there are days when I become so overwhelmed I just want to quit. However, I know quitting won't help anything. The only way for me to achieve my dreams is to keep going. Through the bad, through the good, through it all. Giving up might seem to be the best solution, but it isn't. Every story needs an ending. So does yours.