I started writing at the ripe old age of 16, and self-published Heartbound at the age of 20. Starting out as a writer while you're young can be a wise idea, however there are still some pitfalls that you need to be aware of.
Firstly, writing requires a lot of time and dedication. There may come a time where you have to choose between your social life and your writing life, and the pressure from your friends can be overwhelming. Even the most experienced writers, those who have twenty more writing years under their belts, can struggle to keep motivated when a work-in-progress starts faltering. What is important to remember is that this is natural and will pass if you give it time.
You can sometimes feel lost when starting out on a writing venture, particularly if you are in your teens or early 20s. Not a lot of youngsters write novels, and so you can feel increasingly isolated. This is completely understandable, but there is help out there for you. Several writing bodies offer writing courses specifically designed with young writers in mind. These courses will teach you about mastering your craft, getting published, and so much more. A quick Internet search could ease a lot of worry and get you on your way to becoming a professional writer.
Aside from writing courses, help is also on hand at your school or college. Before writing Heartbound, I wrote a short story and constantly pestered my English teacher for critique and advice on it. Though nothing came of the short story (I've always felt that I am better suited to novel writing), the support from my teacher acted as an inspiration not only for Heartbound, but for some of my earlier work too. Have a chat with an English teacher at your college; you never know, they might be willing to become your writing coach!
Young people are fortunate that they are living in an era where communication has never been easier. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads have allowed authors to connect with their readership like never before. You are in the perfect position to get advice from the many authors using social media to promote themselves. Start connecting with your favourite authors and asking a few questions. All it takes a tweet!
Be prepared to stand up for yourself and work as well. If writing is something you are seriously considering, then be aware that other people may not understand the effort you have to put in. Sticking to your guns will not only help silence the doubters but will also help you when it comes to approaching publishers.
My one final piece of advice to any young writers reading this would be to stay strong. In the early stages, it can be difficult but once your reputation starts to grow, that will change. Your teachers and parents, inevitably, will be pressuring you to get a part-time job and I would agree with them. Having a safety net of some kind of income will be invaluable in the early years of your writing. Remember, writing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Writing is a fantastic experience and I would actively encourage any young person considering becoming an author to grab the opportunity with both hands.
Let's get writing!