That’s what someone said while taking a picture of me, 5 other women, and 25 teenage girls. With my church, I’m a youth leader for girls ages 12-17 and every year we have “girls camp.” Although I’ve been a leader for almost 3 years, this is my first year to get to go. And yes…wow, the estrogen.
It was actually very fun getting to watch the girls and really see what teens are like now. Keeps me with a fresh perspective. Honestly, I’m not sure they’re that different than when I was in high school. They just watch different shows. All I have to do is love Glee and talk about how unattractive Robert Pattinson’s shirt-off scene in New Moon was and I’m in.
I noticed that there’s a sort of cycle. The twelve-year-olds still have a child-like confidence in themselves. They’re cute and unafraid. But they certainly follow the older girls to try and fit it.
The fourteen-year-olds have lost that and are in the “I’m too cool for everything” stage.
And then right around 16–17 for some–they get back to being a little more confident in themselves. Most of them anyway. They know who they are and who they want to be, where they want to go. Some more than others. But by this time, they have a nice mixture between the 12-year-old confidence and the 14-year-old insecurity. And the confidence tends to be a little stronger than the insecurity.
But all ages get hyper and goofy when you give them ice cream at midnight. There are screams, loud giggles, and wildness.
Let’s just say that being in a cabin with a bunch of teenage girls for four days can take a lot out of you. I’d say it rivals the exhaustion that comes with taking care of a baby. But just as fun.
Anyway, these are some things I’m going to keep in mind while writing. I personally like the older teen when I write–they’re easier for me to relate to, I think. And so much fun because they’re finding their confidence. I like writing things like that. (Not that it doesn’t happen in the other ages, but still….)
I think the best thing a teen writer can do for his or her writing is to stay connected to the teens. Watch their shows (no matter how annoying or no matter how silly you feel for actually enjoying it), read their books, and hang out with them, if you can.
And get them to read your stuff. They’re your audience. About a year ago I gave my first chapter to some of my girls…no response. They’re too sweet to say anything bad to me, but nobody really said anything good either. While at camp, I gave two girls my new first chapter. They wanted to read the rest. To me, that’s the ultimate test.
Know the teens, know your audience.