One Thing I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Today I’m participating in the Teens Can Write Too blog chain for July.

 

The title is a lie, people. I’m going to talk about more than one thing because I’m just multi-talented like that. Here we go.

 

First drafts suck.

No, really, take it from me. I am the Supreme Goddess of Writing. If I had known this when I was a tiny young writer, I would have been a lot less arrogant. No, you are not the exception to the rule. Your first draft will not be perfect. Like the rest of us mere mortals, you have to rewrite. For me, that usually means the whole novel *whimpers quietly*. Even if your first drafts are less of a mess than mine, they will need extensive revision.

 

Teen writing does not suck. Beginning writing does.

Just realised I’ve used “sucks” in the first two of these. Oh well. Anyway, there is this misconception that teen writers suck at writing, which is just untrue. Any beginning writing sucks. Like anything, it takes practise. Sure, some may be better at it than others to begin with, but even those people need determination and perseverence in order to…not suck.

 

There is a whole community of writers out there on the interwebs.

Twitter is your best friend. Seriously. There are SO MANY writers on Twitter it’s not even funny. And I’ve learnt a bunch from other writers. Whether it’s from pitch contests, blog posts or Tweet-sized tips on writing, there’s so much there that’s helpful. I wish I’d had Twitter when I first started writing.

 

Writing is hard. But that’s no excuse.

You may not want to write every day. You may want to cry. Frequently. You may blame writer’s block as the excuse for not writing, but you just have to push through it. The only way to defeat writer’s block is to write. Or to write a different scene. But if you keep making excuses for not writing, you’ll never do it.

 

It’s all worth it.

I wish I had known this as well – that no matter how hard it gets, no matter how bad you think your writing is, there will come a day when you read back some of your work and you think…hey, that’s not too bad. And you think…hey, I wrote that. If you can read back your writing and not want to scratch your eyeballs out, then that’s pretty awesome.

And for me, it’s all worth it.

 

And here are the rest of the lovely people participating in the blog chain! You should definitely check them all out. And tell me in the comments: if you’re a writer, what’s one thing you wish you knew when you started out?

5th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

6th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

9th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/

10th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

11th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

12th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/

14th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

15th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

16th – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

17th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

18th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

19th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

20th – https://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

21st – https://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

24th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for August’s blog chain will be announced.

Teens Can Write Too Blog Chain: book-to-movie adaptations

Today I’m joining in with the blog chain hosted by John Hansen from Teens Can Write Too (which is an awesome blog and you should check it out).

This month we’re discussing

BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATIONS

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

This is quite topical, since The Fault in Our Stars is out AS WE SPEAK (side note: sucked in USA, Australia got it before you). I saw TFIOS at the beginning of May, because I’m a lucky duck. You can see my thoughts here.

Also, back in ye olde February of 2013, I posted about my thoughts on hearing that it was GOING to be turned into a movie. You can read about that here. (weirdly enough, some of my predictions ended up being true)

Back to adaptations themselves. Let’s not turn this into a post about TFIOS (much as that would be awesome). Here are some gifs from my favourite adaptations.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Based on:

tfios

STARDUST

image

Based on:

stardust

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Based on:

perks

HARRY POTTER..JUST ALL OF THEM

Based on:

allllll harry potter books

I love book-to-movie adaptations. Reading is all well and good, I love it, but having that extra dimension, being able to SEE the characters, is an amazing experience. And when it’s done right, it makes the book seem that much more real.

For all of the adaptations I’ve listed above, they don’t follow the book/s to the letter. They change things, add things, remove things that don’t work well in a visual context (or in a two-hour time frame). But they keep the things that are essential to the integrity of the story. Stardust is a bit of a strange example, because it’s VERY different to the book (and I didn’t like the book much). So that one’s kind of an exception to the rule. But the others are both extensions of books that I love as well as art forms in their own right.

Would I ever want my books to feature on the big screen? Well, that depends. It wouldn’t be a decision I’d make lightly – I’ve heard the horror stories. Goodness, I’ve WATCHED the horror stories, the ones that had such potential and then turned out…well, awful (AHEM Eragon). But I think it would also be an amazing experience if it was done right. Seeing my actual characters come to life? Now that would be cool.

What are some of your favourite book-to-movie adaptations? Writers, would you ever want your books to become movies?

And these are the links of the other lovely people participating in the blog chain!

5th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

6th – https://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/ (That’s me!)

7th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

8th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

9th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

10th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

11th – http://charleyrobson.blogspot.com/

12th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/

14th – http://fairyskeletons.blogspot.com/

15th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

16th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

17th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

18th – http://mirrormadeofwords.com/

19th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

20th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

21st – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

22nd – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://aaronandtamarabooks.blogspot.com/

24th – http://www.butterfliesoftheimagination.weebly.com/

25th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

26th – http://turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/

27th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

28th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for July’s blog chain will be announced.

Write Life Saturday: how long does it take you to write a first draft?

A lot of you will have heard of the massive November writing event, NaNoWriMo. This event is where people write 50,000 words in the space of one month. In both 2012 and 2013, I surpassed the 50k and proceeded to finish the whole first draft. Yes I am bragging, even though MANY people did way better than that.

It’s a process which ranges from this:

image

To this:

If you’re not a writer (I know a lot of you aren’t!), writers are weird, okay? We range between loving to write and hating it, or at least I do. Sometimes I think something I write is pretty good, and then when I re-read it I’m like whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy did I think that was good???

But the GREAT thing about first drafts is that none of that matters. It’s going to be awful anyway, so why spend a long time on it?

I haven’t written that many first drafts, or not proper ones, anyway. Three were the result of a NaNo period – two during the Novembers and one during Camp NaNoWriMo July last year. The fourth was during two months before November, where I wrote about a thousand words a day, give or take.

And even at that kind of pace I’m all like:

^^^In fact I think this dude has the right idea.

But if I’m not pushing myself like that, I really tend to lack motivation. The second draft I’m working on now? Yeah, I started it at the end of 2013 and have written 33,000 words.

That’s okay! I’m happy with my progress. Because it’s not a first draft, it’s bound to take longer.

I think it’s important not to think too much during a first draft. If you start overthinking, you start censoring yourself – some of my best ideas seemed stupid to start with before I fleshed them out and they became things I still really like. Reading first drafts back is not fun. It’s actually kind of scary.

image

There is such a big different between each of my drafts, and I know that each one is better than the last. I also know that some people like to draft slowly, while others prefer to do it quickly (or ridiculously quickly, like a certain someone I know whose name I will not mention *cough*CAITDREWS*cough).

How long does it take you to write a first draft? I’d love to hear from you! I mean, maybe I’m doing it wrong. I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to write, though. 

Loony’s Musings (4): Life of a Blogger

I got the idea from this post from Mel over at YA Midnight Reads, who wrote THIS AWESOME POST about her daily routine. So I thought I’d tell you all a little about my daily routine.

Prepare to be amazed.

Or maybe not.

image

Anyway, my alarm goes off every morning at 8. I know, right? How lucky am I? I check the internet until about 8:20 then run around for half an hour trying to find socks and hair elastics and something to eat. At a quarter to nine, I leave for school.

At 3:20, I walk home so I’m back at about 3:30. I check my internets again because six hours without it is really hard, okay? Then it’s piano time.

Most days, after piano, I stuff around for a while longer on the internet. Then I’ll probably read and write for a while, do homework, do my chores, have dinner and a shower (not at the same time), and the real school stuff starts. I don’t let myself on the internet between 8:30 and 10. It’s done wonders for my productivity. This is my official study time. Because otherwise I’ll never get off Twitter.

Between 10 and 11, I blog, read, and talk to my cat (I’m only half joking). Basically, I have a LOT of time on my hands. And now that I’ve become wise in my old age (haha), I’m learning to manage my time more effectively.

At 11pm, I go to sleep. For some crazy reason, I cannot operate on less than nine hours of sleep. It SUCKS. Good thing I live so close to my school otherwise I would have no time whatsoever!

So that’s generally my routine Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, I host half of the Aussie version of FriNightWrites, running sprints and writing myself as well. This is when I do most of my writing – it’s a great motivational tool.

Then on Saturday and Sunday nights, I waitress. During the daytime on the weekends, I do a bucketload of reading. This is because I try not to do schoolwork during the weekends.

So that’s my daily routine! School can get a bit overwhelming sometimes, and so do all the other things I have to do: interact with family and friends, learn to drive, practise piano, write, read, blog, read other blogs, waitress, do chores, eat food occasionally and sleep.

Image

But I wouldn’t give up blogging for the world. I appreciate each and every person who comments on my blog posts, or likes them, or reads them (hello, lurkers!). Thanks so much to all of you – without you there’d be no point, would there?

Top Ten Things About Being a Teen Writer

Recently I updated my blog to include a page on my writing. Come and check it out!

There’s one thing in common with all those ongoing projects: all of them have been written, or thought of, in my teens. And even though there are disadvantages to being a teen author (like people not taking you seriously) there are many advantages as well:

1) It’s always good to start early

And by this I don’t mean mornings. Here’s my opinion of mornings:

image

If you like writing in the morning, though, more power to you. What I’m saying is that we have SO many years to perfect our craft, us teen writers – starting early is always going to be an advantage.

2) We’re experiencing it right now

Most of you, I’m guessing, write YA or MG. And because we’re teens, we don’t have to think back – we have everything accessible to us! We talk to other teens every day, and even if nothing we write as teens gets published, we can read it back and go, yeah, that’s what it was like.

3) It’s a really cheap hobby

You don’t have to pay to write stories, unlike sports or video-gaming (reading, however, is another matter entirely). Except emotionally when you have NO CHOICE but to kill a character but you love that character so much but…

ahem. Carrying on.

image

4) Things that happen to you get absorbed into your novels

For example, the Irish accents I’m doing at school (have I said it enough yet? When people get sick of it I’ll take it as a divine sign to stop). Bits and pieces from your teen life will make it into your writing, and enrich it as a result.

5) No pressure!

Most of you aren’t writing as a profession yet, so you can have a bit of a partay with it.

Dancing GIFS

(I love minions)

6) It uses valuable maths time

Except not anymore, since I dropped maths. But seriously, if you don’t like a class, daydreaming about stories is a great way to get out of it.

7) It helps in classes you actually like!

For example, English. And drama. And legal studies. And society and culture. And religion. And music.

Geez, it helps with all my subjects.

High Five GIFS

Go writing! I mean, seriously, writing is useful for so many things. And creative writing helps with problem solving skills, and builds dedication, and requires a LOT of work. I’ve learnt so much as a writer that helps me with other aspects of life.

8) You get to meet awesome online people

For example, my critique partner Cait *waves to Cait* I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people if not for being a writer, and as a teen, I think it’s even easier to form these sorts of friendships.

9) You can use GIFs without people getting all snooty

I don’t even need to explain this one.

And finally…

10) Voice!

This follows on a bit from one of my previous points, but your voice, even if it’s just finding itself, is going to be an authentic teen voice, because you ARE a teen.

So congrats, teen writers, on being awesome. Whatever anyone says, teens CAN be good writers. It just takes hard work and lots of gifs.

image

Emily’s Top Teen Writer Tips

Adults, you can read along too if you want – don’t worry, I won’t tell. But basically, these are my tips to teen writers that I wish I’d known a few years ago. Come and join me in my exclusive teen club!

Nah, I’m kidding. We all know YA writers are kids at heart. Also my Nanna – she plays Nintendogs on her DSi, which I think is pretty cool.

So. My tips. Here we go:

1) Get Twitter!

Chances are most people reading this post have Twitter already. But in you’ve stumbled onto this post through the Googles (welcome!), I’m telling you this right now: Twitter is possibly the best thing that has happened to me in my time as a writer. There is a huge community of writers on Twitter, a million ways to learn more about the craft, and a bazillion opportunities that pop up all the time. Without Twitter, I never would have become part of Aussie Owned and Read. I never would have met my awesome CPs. Which brings me to:

2) Get some CPs

For those of you not “up wif da lingo,” as it were, a CP is a critique partner. That is, a person made entirely of awesome without whom writers would be tearing their hair out.

CPs look at your writing. They tell you what’s working and what sucks. I’ll probably make a post devoted entirely to critique partners sooner or later, but in essence, you don’t want your best friend, and you don’t want someone who will trash your writing completely. Twitter is great for finding quality critique partners. Just make sure you find someone your own level, otherwise the relationship becomes one-sided.

3) Participate in NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo was the second-best writing decision I ever made (after Twitter). Before NaNoWriMo 2012, my first year, I really struggled with finishing stories. Four and a half novels later, I’ve learnt a lot about commitment and dedication. And typing fast.

Maybe not quite that fast. But seriously, even if you write the WORST first draft ever during NaNoWriMo, it’s a lot of words that you didn’t have before. And as my motto goes, “words is words.”

4) Don’t pressure yourself

Chances are, you’re not going to be published or agented as a teenager. This is NOT me saying that teens aren’t good writers – I think that’s a silly statement and not true by any means. But it IS me saying that all new writers are going to suck, not matter how old they are. It may take two years of suckage before your writing is good; it might take twenty. Everyone’s road is different, so don’t beat yourself up for not being a NYT Bestseller before you hit 18.

5) Try to get into a habit

Yeah, about that…

disney's mulan guilty smile gif

I know there’s the whole “don’t preach what you don’t practice,” thing, because honestly I don’t follow this one very well. Life gets in the way occasionally, but whenever I’ve stuck to a writing goal, it’s been so much easier.

6) Learn that first drafts suck

This is not open to interpretation. Your first draft WILL suck. It might suck less than someone else’s first draft, but it will by no means be anywhere near finished. I saw somewhere that a first draft is just the end of a brainstorm. When I first heard this I was all:

Rewriting didn’t compute in my brain. My reasoning was, “but I’ve already written all these words, and I’m just expected to DELETE most of them?” Yes. Yes, and it is awful and wonderful and lonely and joyful and the best and worst thing about writing.

So there you go. Those are my top teen writer tips.

If you’re a teen, what tips would you share with other teen writers? Or if you’re an adult, what do you wish you’d known as a teen?

Loony’s Musings (1): Back to School

So this is a new feature I’m going to be doing. I’ll post every Wednesday about what’s happening with my life, and sometimes it will relate to reading and writing.

This year, I’m in year 11. Which for all you Americans is junior year (I think?). Anyway, my second-last year at school, and I am simultaneously this:

And this:

But seriously, I’m REALLY excited for this year. My subjects are as follows:

English

Extension English

Society and culture

Drama

Music

Legal Studies

Studies of religion

Do you notice something about that list? NO MATHS. NO SCIENCE. I AM FREE. Bye bye, silly subjects!

I’ve also got amazing teachers and great classes this year. Basically, I’m excited!!

What I’m reading at the moment:

– Fellowship of the Ring (for school)

– The One and Only Jack Chant by Rosie Borella (for review)

What I’m writing at the moment:

– This blog post (ha!)

– A second draft of my WIP, The Daisy List

Books I’ve read recently:

The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer

Shift by Em Bailey

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson

What I’ll be blogging about next:

– The recent Harry, Hermione and Ron fiasco, and why books belong to their readers

Right so anyway, back to school.

It’s going to get more hectic for me this year. Year 11 means that next year I’ll be doing my HSC. Next year I’ll also be an adult.

But it’s okay. I’ll still refuse to tie my shoelaces. I love school for so many different reasons: I love the people, I love learning, I love the teachers who are all so supportive, and I love the community. I go to a nerd school (Penrith Academic Selective High School as titled by the snobby principal – we nickname it PASHS). Going to a nerd school means that we have a giant chess set and also that the biggest behavioural problem is hacking the school computers or creating homemade tasers. It’s a fun place.

What with school coming back, I’m going to have less time to read. In fact I’m going to have less time for everything. But on the weekend, I got the chance to create an awesome blog button, which you can grab here:

<a href="https://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/&#034; target="_self"><img src="”http://i1348.photobucket.com/albums/p732/emily_june1/BlogButton_zpsfda70fae.png”&#034; alt="”The Loony Teen Writer”" width="125" height="125" /></a>

And it’s all thanks to Cait Drew’s tutorial on how to make a blog button. Thanks, Cait!

Maybe, when it gets further into the year, I’ll be looking for a co-blogger. But right now, I’m just glad to see my school friends again and start working on projects that interest me and make me more aware of the world in general.

And that’s it for the first Loony’s Musings. I’ll be back next Wednesday to talk about my part-time job, and why it helps with writing!

Book Review: ALL THIS COULD END

ImageI admire Steph Bowe for a couple of simple reasons. 1) She’s Australian. 2) She’s a teen author. 3) She’s an Australian teen book author! Which is what I want to be someday. I mean, I may not get there as a teen, but the point is that someone MY AGE wrote something THIS GOOD. The point is not that she’s a teenager. The point is that this is a very very good book.

Actually, this book kind of reminded me of…me. Of my writing. It was a bit crazy, a bit on the odd side, very light-hearted. Not as GOOD as this, obviously.

So, quick summary: Nina (the protagonist) is a girl in a family that robs banks. Just to supplement their income, as families do. Nothing heavy-duty. Just balaclavas and some guns without ammo (which is proved wrong later, but that’s a spoiler so I won’t go into it).

ALL THIS COULD END is written in third person, present tense. At first it kind of put me off. But then it grew on me. It preserved the uniqueness of the story, and the innocence, somehow. It’s also told from two perspectives: Nina and Spence. The romance between them is totally cute. Spence is the awkward guy who likes strange words, and Nina is…the guy that ends up holding a gun to his head in a bank robbery (this isn’t a spoiler. It happens in the prologue).

This is just a really NICE book. Like, I didn’t have to think too hard when I read it. It wasn’t massively emotional or dark or beautiful. It was just a really nice book. And sometimes that’s all you need – just a nice book to while away a trip to a country village.

I’m going to have to keep an eye on Steph Bowe, judging by this book.

The next book I will review will be The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

Writing Challenge Day 6 – Watches

Day’s six prompt was “Start your story with: “He glanced at his watch impatiently…” So naturally, that’s what I did. As always, the challenge can be found here. Not quite sure where I was going with this prompt, so it’s not as long as some of the others.

He glanced at his watch impatiently. Not because he was late but because it wouldn’t. Work. He jiggled it a bit more and resigned himself to the worst – the bloody thing wasn’t waterproof. He wondered if he could sue them for that, seeing as though it said it was waterproof.

‘Spectacular dive,’ said someone.

‘Really marvelous,’ said another.

Jeremy was used to these kinds of comments. He didn’t understand why they said it to him. Diving was just like falling, but more elegant. It wasn’t that hard. ‘Thanks,’ he said, still jiggling his watch. What a bummer.

Then came a different voice. A girl’s voice. ‘What’s wrong with your watch?’

Jeremy spun around and saw Lexie, who was clever and sarcastic and funny. ‘Um, it won’t work. I dived into the pool with it,’ he added.

Lexie had brown hair, and it was very long. Jeremy liked it. ‘Here,’ she said, flipping her hair back and taking his wrist in her hands. She reset the hands and, lo and behold, it started ticking again. ‘I guess I’m a watch mechanic now.’

‘I guess so.’ He kept watching her. Watch. Watch.

She laughed and slapped him playfully on the shoulder. ‘See you at school tomorrow, yeah?’

‘Yeah.’ Jeremy held up his watch. ‘Thanks for…whatever you did.’

She doffed an imaginary hat and promptly disappeared. Jeremy blinked a bit, thinking he’d missed something. But she was gone, alright, into thin air no less. Jeremy didn’t yet know what a Watcher was, and if he had, he would have dove back into the swimming pool and never surfaced.

But of course, Jeremy didn’t know what a Watcher was, and so he felt his heart burst with the inexplicable love he felt for Lexie. And he couldn’t wait to see her again.

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 5!!

Day 5 had to be a story based on an item in the room. I chose a pencil case. Don’t ask me why. I could have chosen a piano, or a Poptart, or a bottle of bug spray (it’s a very eclectic room). But no. I chose the pencil case. You can find the challenge here.

On the whole, it was a suspicious-looking pencil case. What if she’d written the quadratic formula inside it? I bent my head and tried to concentrate on the exam, but that pencil case kept bugging me. I couldn’t help it. My head shot up and I fixed my eye on it. Pink, the whole thing, with little frills. She could have had a knife in there, for all I knew. Why had they let her keep it on the desk? I’d even had to take the label off my water bottle, for crying out loud.

I shifted in my chair to get a better look at it. Pencil cases were always very sly things – they tended to move when you weren’t looking. I kept my eye on it – but then I had to sneeze.

The hall erupted in a chorus of “bless you”s, and the anxious teachers walked around trying to make them shut up.

But the pencil case had moved. It was on her right hand side now. Tricky things, pencil cases.

Of course, I never expected it to actually have something in it. It was just my way of avoiding equations that seemed nothing but meaningless scribble. So it was a huge surprise to me when the door of the hall burst open and several monkeys came sliding in.

I leaned back in my chair, positive I wasn’t seeing this right. Exam brain, that’s what it was. Costumes, surely. They had to be costumes.

One of the monkeys came towards me, his furry mask slipping off. ‘Hi, Audrey.’

‘Not my name,’ I reminded him. ‘Are you coming to get me out of maths?’

‘Not exactly. I’m coming to get Melanie’s pencil case.’ He yanked it off her desk and held it up above his head. ‘I’ve got it, everybody!’ From inside the pencil case, he withdrew a slip of paper and cleared his throat. Every eye in the hall was on him, and he noticed it. I hated people like that. ‘Dear Mum…I know you’ve always said that being gay is against your religion, so I guess you’ve got a choice: me, your daughter, or your religion?’

The hall erupted into cackles, and Melanie put her head on her desk. She wasn’t a particularly nice persons by all accounts, but that was out of line.

‘Not on, Ben,’ I growled, standing up.

And, to my eternal surprise, I punched the side of his face so that he toppled over like the monkey he was.