Writing for Teens: Interview with Elana Johnson

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Writing

We end our week-long celebration of Teen Literature with an interview today with the charming Elana Johnson.  I began following Elana’s blog when I first started exploring the blogsphere for fellow writers.  Immediately it became one of my go-to writing blogs because of her honest, no-nonsense advice and her generosity to other writers.  She’s one of the masterminds behind that awesome (and free!) online conference WriteOnCon and the free eBook (From the Query to the Call) that guides writers through the query process.

She’s also the author of the two dystopian teen novels POSSESSION and SURRENDER, which you’ll hear all about in the interview.

True to her generous nature, Elana shares tons of great advice and thoughts on writing during our interview.  Probably the most valuable tip she gives is that writers need to do what works best for them.  Try different tools and techniques but don’t feel like you have to write the way someone else says you should.  (I paraphrase but you can hear Elana express it much better in the video.)

This idea really resonates with me because that’s what DIY MFA is all about.  We’re not here to tell you what to write or how to write it.  The point of DIY MFA is to help you fill your writing toolbox.  Which tools you choose and how you use them is up to you.  Too many writers out there are in the business of telling other writers that there’s only one way to write.

Talking to Elana, it was so refreshing to hear someone say: “do what works for you.”  Because writing isn’t a mechanical process.  What works for one writer might not be best for another.  Of course, you need to have an open mind and try new techniques, but you also need to be honest with yourself to realize when something isn’t working.

“There is no waste when you’re writing. Every word you write and every method you try is something that you’re adding to your arsenal of tools that you know how to do.”
~Elana Johnson



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