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Diary Of A Teenage Fiction Writer


"From the moment you decide that you’re going to do what you always said you were going to do and write a novel, you start to run into problems. There’s one thing many writers fail to mention about writing: to be a writer, you actually have to write. Big shocker, I know, but with everything that goes on, it’s something that can easily be forgotten.

When I was preparing to write my first novel, I spent hours thinking about the process of writing. I brainstormed and thought through every little detail about my story, and read every book on writing that I could get my hands on. The brainstorming was helpful, and so was reading Writing Fiction for Dummies, but the more I thought and daydreamed about writing, the more I grew hesitant about it. Every moment I was planning was time I was not writing.

It was strange. I was so excited about the thought of writing a novel, that I couldn’t stop researching every little thing I could about it. The research in turn seemed to keep me from actually starting the writing itself.

Ultimately, I took the plunge - with my multi-page outline serving as a security blanket - and never looked back. There’s only so much you can learn from reading books (and Googling) about writing. In the end, you just have to set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, in my case).

So now, you’re writing. When I started to really write, and not just think about it, I gained momentum and confidence. I was like a child on a bike who just took his training wheels off without remembering to learn how to brake.

The words 'Chapter 1' suddenly feel like a distant memory. You feel liberated, as you think to yourself, "Why didn’t I do this before?"

MORE: 22 BEST SUMMER READS BY FAB FEMALE AUTHORS

You soon find out why, the very first time you hit a roadblock. You look at the thirty-page outline you created. You look at your novel (or fledgling of a novel, if we’re not looking at this optimistically). You look at your outline. Back to your novel. You panic, because they look nothing alike. When I say 'nothing alike', I mean your protagonist had a sex change, put on thirty years, and now hates his mother for no apparent reason. These are valid grounds to panic.

You give yourself a few days to mourn the death of your outline, but you soon realize you have to move on. Sex change or no sex change, you set out to write a novel, and that's what you're going to do. That’s another lesson I quickly learned; stubbornness is a virtue.

You take a break because it feels like you’ve been writing for ages… well, weeks, but that’s the same thing right? You deserve a day to yourself. Then that one day turns into three, and then a week, before you realize what you’re doing. Procrastination isn’t your worst enemy - you are. I soon realized that procrastination doesn’t get a foothold unless I let it. You look back on the work you’ve done so far. You have to be almost done, right? Wrong. You’ve yet to get to chapter 3.

Then weeks pass and it’s all smooth sailing. “So this is what writing is all about,” you think to yourself. You know things are going too well, but that doesn’t prepare you for your next crisis: one of your characters has started to talk like one of your other characters. Heck, all of your characters have started to sound alike! It’s time for damage control. It’s important to spring back from the problems you find in your writing. No problem is big enough to quit writing.

Every time I write, I go through these problems and more. By now, I’ve just taken it as a part of writing. Problems mean that you’re moving forward and making progress. Conquering them means that your characters are growing, and you are too, both as a writer and as a person.

Pretty soon, you realize you’ve finished a novel. Sure, it will never be done, since you will always find things you want to tweak, but you know it’s time to set it aside. You’ve told the story you’ve wanted to tell. It’s finally out there.

And just when you think you’ve finished, an idea for book two hits you..."

The Seventh Miss Hatfield is out now in Hardback, £14.99

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