indexcardboxI started writing when I was in fifth grade. One day, my teacher, Mr. Chris, put an open box of index cards on the corner of his desk. He told us to come up, one by one, and take a card. On each card was a single sentence, like “On a sunny Saturday morning, David went for a walk.”

We were all confused about our cards until Mr. Chris explained.

“The index card you hold in your hand contains the first sentence of a short story you will write. It’s due on Friday.” He gave some rules on what can and cannot be in them, then lectured about story writing. I was still scared about the project when I left the class that day, but once I sat down to write, a story just popped into my head, and the words flowed from my pencil. I had the first draft written the same day.

The next morning, I showed it to my old second grade teacher, all excited. She took out Old Red and marked it up. You see, my story had our hero run into trouble with some street punks, who tried to rough him up. To be believable, they had to talk badly (“You ain’t getting’ outta here now”). She didn’t get it, and assumed that I just didn’t know my grammar. I stubbornly copied it over to a clean sheet of paper and submitted it to Mr. Chris, “ain’ts” and all. I got an A+.

You’re never too young to start writing. As soon as you get an idea in your head, write it down. It could be a whole story, or even just a retelling of something that happened to you. What you write about doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you write. Keeping a diary or journal is a good start.

PS: The “bad language” I used wasn’t profane. It was just bad grammar, and it was only in dialogue. The bad guys in the story spoke like they never went to school in their lives, but the narrator and Our Hero spoke quite nicely indeed.