2022 Teen Writers' Rally

The Writing Journey of a TEEN AUTHOR // guest post from Penelope Rugan

Heya, TWNers! Welcome to day seven of the 2022 Teen Writers’ Rally. We’re kicking-off National Novel Writing Month with back-to-back posts featuring amazing authors, bloggers, and more! Tune in every day until November 5th for new posts full of writing tips, advice, and encouragement. Posts are live at 6:00 EST, and if you’re not already, subscribe to Teen Writers’ Nook via email to receive a notification when the next post for the rally is up. (Form can be found to the right if on a computer or at the bottom of the page if on a mobile device.) And stay until the end of the post for information about the giveaway running through the entire event!

Okay, y’all, I am just sososososososososoSO excited for this next guest post! Penelope Rugan is not only one of the 14 authors featured in TWN’s Imagine anthology, she is also one of my best friends and an AMAZING author! Penelope and I met a couple of years ago when she first found TWN. (Even though I am still upset that she commented on Alana’s post first instead of mine. 😝) When planning this rally, I had a last minute idea (and I do mean last minute, because I emailed Penelope about the idea two days before I needed the post by XD) to include a post from a TWN reader. The only problem was, we have 212 (shout-out to all our fantabulous new subscribers!) AMAZING readers, and how was I supposed to pick just one??? I decided on Penelope because not only is she my dear friend, a fantastic writer, and one of the most sweetest and positive people on Planet Earth, she is also one of TWN’s FIRST readers. She was a TWNer before being a TWNer was even a thing.  

So anyway, I knew she was the writer to have. And since I have already taken up enough of her posting time with this long intro, let’s go ahead and give a round of applause for PENELOPEEEEEEEE!!!!

*fails to come up with intro* 

I just spent twenty minutes trying to find the right intro sentence and, um, let’s just say it’s a lot harder than all these amazing bloggers make it seem. XD


The wonderful Issabelle Perry asked me to write a post for TWN’s first ever writing rally and I’m so so SO excited to be a part of it!!! 

…Now I actually have to write the post. You know, this seemed like it would be way easier when I replied to Issabelle’s email lol.

I started writing around september of 2020, mainly out of boredom, and while I enjoyed writing, I didn’t like my writing. And after writing the first chapter, I basically gave up. XD

Around that same time though, I found TWN (Through Jennifer A. Nielsen’s blog) and finding them gave me the perseverance to actually stick with writing. 

I continued writing for the rest of October and then November rolled in and I got stuck. Again. 

My writing progress stayed on standby through December and January and I was ready to give up on writing, (I give up pretty easily. It’s something I need to be working on.XD) just because I couldn’t think of anything to write. I did get to beta read for Issabelle through this time though so i think it was time well spent. 😉 

Then in February, my mom found a short story writing contest in a local magazine and told me I should try writing something for it, so after a lot of contemplation, I decided to try it.

I threw my WIP at the time out the window and started a completely new project, and actually completed it! Issabelle and Katherine helped me edit the story (It was a Peter Pan retelling) and, on the last day possible, I submitted it. 

Annnnnd I never heard back from them. I spent most of April really excited/worried and then forgot I had submitted the story entirely. XD (To be continued…)  

I joined CWW (crazy writing week) in May and I gotta say, having the contest and all the encouraging people around me was the best writing motivation. I think I wrote about 10k that week (I honestly don’t remember how much I wrote. It could have been anywhere from 1k to 15k, I’m just making a rough guess. XDD) in a new WIP I started, called The Cloaked Warrior. It was about a girl who could bend light and had to save her father from shadow benders. I actually really like the idea still, but after reading back through it recently… Let’s just say it could be written better. Much MUCH better, lol. 

Quick side note: I know it can be really discouraging when you don’t like your own writing, but when you don’t like something, especially something you wrote in the past, it can mean you’ve grown in your writing. Like when you look back on something you drew as a kid. When you were younger, the drawing seemed amazing but now it doesn’t look as good because you’ve gotten better. (Assuming you have gotten better, that is. Some people, like myself, still draw like their five. XD) And remeber to cut yourself some slack. Writers are their own worst critics. You could be writing the next bestselling novel!! You can’t keep that from the world. 🙂 

After CWW ended I felt super motivated for the next week and then, you guessed it, I got stuck. (Are we noticing a pattern here?)

June came and TWN announced their anthology so I obviously had to enter it. I spent all of June writing random stories and trying to find the right one. I finally did, and, similar to the last short story I wrote, I submitted it on the last day possible.  

July was spent editing that story and I actually had a lot of fun getting to go through the editing process. (I think. Again, I really don’t remember much for some reason. XD) 

CWW came around again in August and I was really excited to get back to writing. I started the week out strong and continued The Cloaked Warrior. Everything was actually going really well and I was making a lot of progress. 

And then I switched ideas in the middle of CWW. Twice. I started a romance short story and was actually able to finish it I think, along with starting a story about a magical compass. That one was never touched after that week though so I doubt I’ll ever come back to it. And I was still writing The Cloaked Warrior through all of this. It was a very busy writing week and while I really enjoyed it, by the end I was burnt out. 

And the loop begins again. XD 

I spent most of September not writing and just being really excited for Imagine to be released. Obviously. Who wasn’t excited for it?? 🙂

The week it was released was definitely the best week of 2021 for me. (I seriously can’t thank the Perry sisters enough for the amazing opportunity they gave me. They da best. <33) 

I spent the next few weeks not writing, mainly because of school, but also because the procrastination had kicked in. 

Another side note: Procrastination is something I have with every project I start and so far, the only way I personally have been able to push through it is if I have encouragement from others. (or if I overthink enough to realize I’m never gonna get anything done if I don’t just start, but I don’t recommend doing that. XD) Having a good encouragement group is so helpful in writing for me, and I love to do it for others too. So if you’re ever feeling down about your writing or just in general, I’d be happy to help. Or reach out to other writers. We’ve all been there before and sometimes all it takes is someone telling you your story is worth writing. 

Do you remember that story I submitted back in april? Well around this time (I think late october) I got an email saying they liked the story and wanted to put it in their magazine! I was super excited. And when they suggested a few edits, I agreed, because why not?

And then they asked if I could take the Peter Pan theme out entirely. 

I’m assuming this was so the story would be more on its own and not connected to something else. And I actually did consider it, but I had woven the Neverland theme so deeply into the plot that to take it out, I would have to rewrite the whole story and that wasn’t something I wanted to do. Plus, I had actually been happy with what I had written. 

So I turned the suggestion down. 

They ended up publishing the story anyway and I was really happy that they did. But I think it’s important to point out that, while accepting other opinions is important, it’s still your writing and if you don’t want to change it, that’s fine. 

After that, the only writing I did was CWW in January. I wrote 50k in a completely new WIP and I was super motivated for the rest of the month but then… I don’t really know what happened. Over the past year I’ve only written 16k in that same WIP (finally, a little consistently. XD) And while I haven’t made much progress, I’m actually happy with how my WIP is turning out. I’ve been getting more and more consistent with writing again and with NaNo coming up, I’m hoping to finish the first draft entirely. Sometimes a small break *cough* 7 months *cough* can be good for you. And even though I wasn’t writing for most of the past year, I was able to plot a majority of my WIP and I wrote down all the random ideas I had throughout my unscheduled “break” that I’m now able to come back to. 

Thank you for reading!! With the help of God and thanks to these amazing girls at TWN, I was able to reach 66k in my WIP. Issabelle asked me to share my writing journey, and while I have definitely learned a LOT since I started writing, I still have a very long way to go. Hopefully y’all are able to learn something through my few experiences though. 🙂

Giveaway info: During the rally (October 24th-November 5th) Teen Writers’ Nook is running a giveaway. Three winners will be chosen and the winners will win their choice of one of the books pictured below. (Imagine anthology is also included, though not pictured.) This giveaway is open to both U.S. and international entries!

Every post you comment on during the rally earns you an extra entry into the giveaway! To enter with this post comment below and tell answer: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? (If you can’t tell, Issabelle who came up with this question, is very hungry right now. XD)

Remember to tune in tomorrow for a post from Madeleine-Grace (Alana) Perry where she shares her brainstorming process! 

Issabelle Perry is a proud Jesus follower, an extroverted writer, and a homeschool graduate. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, jamming to Skillet, studying history, hunting for Narnia in wardrobes, or envisioning herself wielding a magnificent sword (but due to her clumsiness, let’s hope that never happens). This self-proclaimed exclamation mark enthusiast can be found hanging out at Teen Writers’ Nook, a community of teen authors Issabelle co-founded in 2020. She is the author of Don't Let Me Go (Sky's the Limit Press 2024), May We Make Them Proud (2023), and a co-editor for two anthologies. What she’s probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people or scanning the pantries for chocolate.


  • Rylie

    I feel so encouraged by this!!! I love writing but I can never really finish projects. I just gotta have hope that someday things will start working in my favor. I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey!!

    BREAD. BREAD BREAD. Well, it depends on the bread. lol I like the turkey too but it also depends on whose making it. My mom’s mom’s cooking is the BEST. But sadly we don’t spend thanksgiving with them since they go to our aunt and uncles to celebrate. I think they’re doing that this year too. *sobs* I just want some of her turkey and bread!! lolll

    • Issabelle Perry

      YES TO THE BREAD. Why is it so addicting and so, so good? I can’t ever get enough of that stuff! Aww, I’m sorry. That is so sad. Especially because how can you miss out on good food????? *sends tissues and lotsa bread, turkey, and chocolate to make you feel better* And I’m SO glad Pippi’s post was encouraging to you!!!!!

  • Ellie

    Wow, this was really inspiring! Thanks for the post! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who takes random breaks from writing.(And never on purpose. The one time I told myself I was going to take a break from writing… that didn’t happen.)

    I have to ask, can you do Crazy Writing Week without being in the Young Writers’ Workshop? If so, how?

    Anyway, awesome post!!

    • Issabelle Perry

      Hey, Ellie, just gonna pop in here to say that you don’t have to be in the Young Writers’ Workshop to do Crazy Writing Week. I’ve participated in it four times and I’ve never been in YWW. I don’t think Penelope’s in it either, or if she is, she never told me. Also, I am SO thrilled you enjoyed her post!!! It was amazing!

  • Joy C. Woodbury

    This was such a good post, Penelope! Thank you for sharing. I especially love your advice about focusing on how far you’ve come, not on the mistakes you’ve made. Such an important reminder. And congratulations on reaching that milestone in your WIP! That’s awesome!!

    That’s a really tough question, but I’d say my favorite Thanksgiving dish is definitely stuffing. The recipe my mom makes is absolutely amazing! And it’s sooooo good when you mix it with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce – although technically that’s more than one dish. XD

    • Issabelle Perry

      YESSSSSSSSS TO THE STUFFING. THAT IS HANDS-DOWN ONE OF MY FAVORITE FOOD EVER. Now, I’m just even hungrier. XD Hahaha, you’re being sneaky adding in the extra dish. XD But, yes, I do love some good ole mashed potatoes, though I don’t think I’ve ever tried cranberry sauce. I must now!!

  • Gemma

    Amazing post! Every writer needs encouragement.
    Favorite Thanksgiving food? I don’t know…. yams with marshmallows? I’m, sadly, not the biggest fan of fancy dinners. (I really do try! Promise!) I prefer pasta or baked potatoes.

  • Lorelei Angelino

    I loved reading Penelope’s journey!

    Favorite Thanksgiving dish is my family’s potato filling (like stuffing, but BETTER), drenched in gravyyyyy. Okay, now I’m hungry…. *starts wishing for Thanksgiving to get here faster*

    • Issabelle Perry

      YAAAY!!! I am SO glad you did, Lorelei! THANK YOU!!!

      OOoo, girl, that sounds DELICIOUS!!!!!! *licks lips* Now I want some. OOOO GRAVY!!!! Hahaha, I am too. *also wishes thanksgiving will get here faster* XD

  • Mary

    Wow, Penelope! That’s incredible you got accepted into the magazine…and GOOD FOR YOU for telling them no about changing it!! And yet they still put it in – that’s so awesome, girl!!

    Also, to answer the question (food questions are always great), I would have to say the dinner rolls. Which I know isn’t a “dish” and I know there’s like so much other food to love, but I always end up loving the dinner rolls the best 😂 😂

  • Corrie.S.P

    I do some of the stuff you do. I get writing for a contest, or an idea comes to mind, and then I get stuck🤣 It is so aggravating!!! I would suggest giving the story to a friend who you can trust to tell you if they think it is good or not. Not just one who will only talk about what the love.
    What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? I like pies and ambrosia. I usually make them myself though. I love eating them and preparing them.

  • Saraina

    Wow, so encouraging!!!! Amazing post, Penelope!! Thank you for shring your writing journey with us and being such an inspiration!! 😉 😀

    Favorite Thanksgiving dish… sweet potatoes. DELICIOUS.

  • Allyson Jamison

    Does fudge count as a “dish”? Because it’s definitely what I look forward to the most ever Thanksgiving!! 😂 If it doesn’t though, I would probably say turkey… Or my grandma’s mac and cheese! But anyways, another amazing post! Thank you!

    • Issabelle Perry

      *gasp* YES IT SHOULD. Fudge is SOOOOO good!!!!!! Oo now I really want some. 😂 Ooo and turkey and mac and cheese are also great picks!!!! Those are definitely things I look forward to eating at Thanksgiving!!!! YAAAY!!! I’m SO thrilled that you enjoyed it!!! Penelope did have an awesome post!!! <3333

  • Katja Labonté

    I am so glad I am not the only writer who can’t remember what her writing journey was really like. XD Penelope, you’ve had so many exciting and amazing opportunities! I am so happy for you 🙂 also, I relate a lot to being stuck all the time…

    And my family doesn’t have specific Thanksgiving foods, but I always love a good meat pie (or tourtière, as we call them). XD

  • K.R.Mattson

    Ugh! Breaks are so important and yes…I may ort may not be taking a not deserved two month long one when I have a 60,000 word book staring me down that I need to get finished. *shrinks away*

    My grandma’s jello salad is the best! She always makes it for special occasions such as Thanksgiving and there is never enough (mainly because she raised two boys and my parents have ten kids, yeah, big difference there.)

    • Issabelle Perry

      Oooo your grandma’s jello salad sounds delicious. And, lol, I feel you about there never being enough!!! I’ve got a big family, and it seems there’s never enough food to go around!!!! Wow, ten kids?! Yep, I bet the holidays are crazy when it comes to food. XD

  • Emma

    This was so encouraging and inspiring!! I loved this post, Penelope!! <33 Thank you for sharing!!

    Oooo my favorite Thanksgiving dish is probably mac & cheese. XD

  • Faith Quelle

    Oh, this was fun! Sounds like the story of my writing life, XD. Thanks for sharing, Penelope!

    Hmmm… pumpkin pie. That stuff is to die for 😛

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