Writing "Young"
Written by
Jan Stribling
July 2013
Written by
Jan Stribling
July 2013

I have been writing for an online magazine for about three weeks now.  I was concerned at first about the age of their readership, which is about 16 to 25.  I'm going to be 50 next April!  I am the mother of a 9 year old so parenting and kids' stuff are easy, but it's not all I want to write about.  How on earth do I write younger than my age? 

Firstly, it's been 25 years since I was 25!  When I was 16, I was so incredibly shy that I never spoke to anyone so how would I know what other 16 year old girls were into?  Some of the topics I've seen on the site are about choosing the best shade of lipstick.  Lipstick?  Honestly, I'm lucky to find time to put on makeup at all.  Great vintage hairstyles is another article I came across.  At 49, I'm happy to have hair still!  I also spotted the article on Inspirational rap songs to listen to when you're down.  Is there such a thing, really? 

Coming upon the midway point of my life (hopefully), all I know  firsthand to write about besides my sweet boy, is how not to pee when you sneeze or cough, when NOT to roll your eyes at a teenager you see making an idiot of themselves and hoping your kid never does the same thing, and what Spanx will do to you if you don't get those suckers pulled up all the way. 

Any suggestions for writing for the younger generation of women? 

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  • Jan Stribling

    Hi, Lynne

    Thank you for the advice!  I will admit, my teenage years and early twenties were angst-ridden and a time I would not want to repeat, so perhaps that is a problem, but I did think I could contribute to the magazine, of course.  It's my first experience with any of my writing being published so I'm certainly learning.  I guess I looked at the topics others were writing about and initially wondered how I would relate to these young women given how different things were when I was their age.  You're so right, though.  I need to look at this from another perspective.  Thank you again!

  • Lynne Favreau

    Jan you don't need to write younger, you just need to write respectfully. It sounds a bit like you don't empathize with being a teenager, or value your life experiences. Why did you chose to write for the magazine if you didn't think you had something to contribute? Of course you do...everyone has life experiences to share.

    Despite also being interested in lipstick and hairstyles, I'm sure the young ladies are concerned with the bigger issues in life. Without knowing what the format or intention of the magazine it is hard to advise you specifically. Are your articles personal point of view or supposed to be informational? In general I'd share personal stories concerning morality, ethics, self-esteem, relationships, and current events that are meaningful to them.

    I have two daughters, fifteen and seventeen, they like discussing the latest movies, tv shows, news and music — not just as fans but how the music or movies portray relationships, objectifies women, devalues men. They are especially interested in the current political climate that invades their privacy as women. And they love nail polish tutorials.

    Today's young ladies are much more aware of the world and how they are treated. How about a series of articles on women in the work place and how roles and attitudes have changed since you were a young lady. Did you work when you 16-25? What kind of jobs did you hold? Did you go to college? Have you always been a writer?

    We're looking at colleges, how about an article interview women, asking how they chose the college they attended, what do they think is important or not important about the college experience. Or interview teens. Do you have a local library with a teen program, how about you ask the teen coordinator if they'd be interested in holding a focus group discussion where you present a bunch of question asking what topics teen girls are interested in and find meaningful? Are you near a community college? Post a flyer asking for feedback on topics of interest.

    You could focus on a particular topic, perhaps relationships. For example: The mother daughter relationship is fraught with tension especially in the teen years, but by the time the girls are graduating from college they begin to see their mothers more as women and the dynamic changes. There's a whole gamet of relationships to traverse – father/daughter connections, siblings, BFFs, love interests, teachers, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, etc, etc, etc.

  • Jan Stribling

    Another good point, Kate.  I think they need to hear about all the lessons I've learned! HA!

  • Kate Powell

    Love that suggestion, Astra.  I started to say pick up some mags geared for that age group, but then you would be copying styles.  then I thought about what I read when I was there age looking at ravel (read your travel piece) or whatever, and I outgrew Seventeen Magazine at 17 and was reading adult material ever after, so reading what people who were older and had money were looking at.  Some of what young people are doing when they red is looking for the information they and their friends don't have -- so they need what YOU have to offer.  Just a thought.

  • Jan Stribling

    Thank you, Astra!  Love your name!  I will definitely try to look at it from a different perspective.  Perhaps I'll be able to read the girls he brings home like a book after doing this!  Ha! 

  • Hi Jan!  I think it's neat that you're writing for the 16-25 demographic!  Think of the perspective you'll have when your baby starts bringing home dates ;-)

    About a year ago, I read a book called "Dear 16 Year Old Me", and anthology of letters from famous people to their 16 year old selves, and since my eldest son turned 16 soon thereafter, I subsequently wrote a post on my blog - a letter to 16 year old me!  It was fun.  Maybe something like that will give you a good prompt for your writing? Good luck!