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xXxcantgetenoughpainxXx's avatar

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wondering if it'd be the right thing to do if I'd write a non-fiction book about my best freind who has self-harmed and been suicidal...she's been in behavioral health, she's told me a lot about it all...she said that she wanted me to write about it for her...but i don't know, people could really reject the whole idea of the outer and inner-workings of a teenager who cuts herself and has suicidal tendencies

HELP!!!! I need opinions!!!!!
First off, do you want to write it? If you don't have your heart into making the book, then it's not going to come out as good. So if you really are interested in writing it, then go ahead. If not, politely tell your friend that you aren't up to the task.

Second, are you sure your friend wants to write it and why? Does she simply want to document her experience or does she want people to read about it and why? This can be important.

You don't have to publish it if you write it. It could just be something your friend keeps.

If you do show it to others, whether publishing it or just posting it up, be aware that people will most likely criticize it and, seeing as it's nonfiction, it may hurt you and/or your friend. I'm not saying everyone will do it. But there will be people who love your work, who hate your work, who criticize it, and who praise it. And some who won't read it at all. So, if you are planning on showing others, make sure both of you are prepared for any outcome.

Writers write for themselves first. Then others. Don't worry about your audience. If you decide to do the book, pour your heart into it, along with your friend's. Write and edit it until it's the best you can make it. However, be honest with yourself; don't start it if you're not really into the idea. That will only lead to either an unfinished project or a complete disaster. (Or both.)

(Side note: Don't let others decide what you should write. Especially not strangers on the internet. What a writer should write is what the writer wants to write. It's something only you should really decide on. Not your family, not your friends, not people on the internet. You. That's what I believe and that's why I gave a neutral answer.)
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we REALLY want to, but both of us being SO young, we're afraid that the work would be terrible... and we wanna publish it... maybe we could hire a writer when we're older... if that didn't work, then either or both of us could go to college, right?
P.S. thanks for the great reply
xXxcantgetenoughpainxXx
we REALLY want to, but both of us being SO young, we're afraid that the work would be terrible... and we wanna publish it... maybe we could hire a writer when we're older... if that didn't work, then either or both of us could go to college, right?
P.S. thanks for the great reply


No problem. And there are a lot of options available.

- You could hire a biographer when you're older to write it for you.
- You could try and write it by yourselves now, and learn as you go.
- You could wait until you're a little more experienced and write it yourself later on in your life.

Think of it this way: most books take a lonnnng time to finish. It takes months to finish the draft, months to edit and revise it on your own, months to hear back from an agent, months to hear back from a publisher (assuming the agent wanted to work with you), and then a while to edit it with an editor before it's finally published (assuming the publisher wanted to work with you). And being young, I'm assuming you are still inexperienced about many things in writing and publishing. So even if you started writing now, there will be many setbacks to the project as you learn more about the industry.

What I'm saying is that no matter what you decide to do, it's not going to get done soon. So there's no need to feel rushed. I started writing stories when I was in middle school. I'm in college now and I still haven't completed a story mainly because I keep learning about new things in writing and fixing what I have; rewriting plots, changing and developing characters better, working on tone, all kinds of stuff that I had to keep changing as I learned more about them and how to make my writing better. Most of what I know now is from reading books and blogs on writing for the last three years and practicing techniques with a friend.

If you choose to write the book, you're going to be going through all of this too, even if it's nonfiction. So my advice is to take your time with everything. Take it slow.

If you've never written a serious project before, try something simple to start out and see if you like it. Keep up a journal, or write a couple short stories or snippets. If you like it, and decide that you may want to write the book yourself, try reading up on some biographies to see how they were written. Try and see what was interesting about them or not. Do a bit of research; getting a book on writing and looking up writer blogs is a great way to learn more about the craft. Reading books similar to what you want to write, as well as some books outside the genre, will help you pick up on some of the finer points of writing like flow, natural dialogue, tone, etc.

Remember that a first draft never comes out right. Think of it as an exploratory draft; see what works and what doesn't. The important thing in a first draft is to get the story down. In this case that's your friend's experience so you'll both need to work extensively on this. Don't worry about how it looks or sounds. Just write until you're finished. Editing and rewrites tend to be a lot easier because you have something to work with. There are plenty of tips online for writing processes. Accept that it will take a long time to do this and don't put your expectations too high at the beginning. Take it nice and easy.

Any author (I'm talking published authors here who write blogs and give tips) who knows their stuff knows that writing takes practice, time, and a conscious effort. It never comes out right the first time. (Those who say it did? Yeah, they lied.) Editing and multiple drafts is what makes a work good. So it may come out terrible the first time. (Heck, it probably will.) It may come out terrible the next three times. (I know mine do...) But with each time, you get better. You learn something new, you realize and learn from your mistakes, and you get better and better until you think it's the best you can make it. Then you send it to someone else to see what you missed or what could be improved on. (And chances are, you probably did miss something. Even if it's just an extra period at the end of a sentence.)

(Writer's tip: don't look for criticism until you edit it at least once. Criticism will help you grow as a writer, but it won't do much good if your work is full of minor mistakes you already should know how to fix because that's what people will hone in on first. I would also stress that if it comes to this, that you should handle most of the critiques since you would have more distance from the content than your friend.)

If you end up not liking writing, though, then you probably shouldn't do it. It's a lot of work and not for everyone. Hiring a professional biographer when you guys are older sounds like a great idea if you still want to do the book. However, while I don't know much about that process, you guys may be investing time and sharing personal experiences with a stranger. The book may also not turn out the way you guys want it. Be aware of the possibilities if you decide to do this and take time to research what to look for in a good biographer before you hire.

(Wow, long post. Sorry if I got carried away. ^.^; )
Clyry Miss Misery 's avatar

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I think that's a good idea maybe she would like to uhmmm... Inspire some teenager who is suffering in that kind of situation.

3nodding
xXxcantgetenoughpainxXx
we REALLY want to, but both of us being SO young, we're afraid that the work would be terrible... and we wanna publish it... maybe we could hire a writer when we're older... if that didn't work, then either or both of us could go to college, right?
P.S. thanks for the great reply


There is always a self-publish option when you are finished. This book may take longer than you think to publish. Just keep writing now, you'll improve with practice and time and then you can publish it yourself if you need to.
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we will try the things everyone has said! ^_^ thank you for all the posts and the tips, you all have been a great help! gtg to class now! laterz!
This is a delicate subject to write about and, for all sorts of reasons, should be written with courage, sensitivity and compassion. I would suggest you write down the bones of the situation and sit on it for a while, leave the first draft and think about where to take it next. It would be better to have strong convictions about writing it and putting it out in public, rather than scribbling down something which would be second rate and self-published. In my opinion, writing down things can the first step to overcoming whatever issues there are within the writer's mind; it's a kind of catharsis, which can be put into a writer's journal or notebook.

Read Julia Cameron's The Right To Write and absorb its wisdom. It could be you, or your friend, are not ready to deal with the outcomes of publishing anything to do with this subject. However, becoming a writer of any sort means you first practice your skill on other, less important things, in order to improve, become stronger, more adventurous. Books are not produced, surprisingly enough, as the result of a writer producing a kind of 'stream of consciousness' writing typed out and printed in vast numbers. As precious as the manuscript is to the individual writer, there are many titles which fail to sell enough to cover the costs of publishing. Self publishing...or 'vanity publishing'...is to be discouraged; there are many so-called publishing companies which will print, for a large fee, any book you produce, but they fail to market and publicise properly. They are only interested in the money, THEIR money.

If you wish to protect your friend's identity during the writing, you can, of course try other 'persons', that is, change the person to he/she rather than the first person singular (I). using the second person plural (you) needs careful consideration, in my experience [for example, you go the the shop and walk in, knowing you cannot tell....]

A good writer will give the subject a better treatment, a better structure. A good writer has developed his or her skills and can deal with the more gritty subject. However, a good writer will have become that out of lots of practice. A good publisher will recognise good writing enough to invest his money (not yours) in dealing with your book. A good friend, nevertheless, is not always the best person to write about someone with her own problems. You have to choose. Perhaps there are organisations nearby which can deal with the whole subject, where you can both discuss it, your friend from the point of view of being a sufferer, and you, from the point of view of being a supporting friend. In a safe environment like that, you both will benefit, you both may find the courage to be able to talk openly about it, moving any 'book' you describe just a few steps closer.

Take care.

J neutral

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