So, I know I'm not really in any position to give advice - I'm not a published author, and I don't have much experience in the world of agents/querying. But I think this blog needs something more than me rambling about my personal life. Therefore, I've decided to do a weekly post with advice for aspiring writers, mainly teenagers.
Discipline is one of the most important assets a writer can have. For novelists in particular, being able to work long hours is really the only way to ever see a book through to completion. I write quickly; I can punch out a first draft in 2-3 months, writing for an average of three hours a day, and it is this level of discipline that has allowed me to finish so many manuscripts.
My advice is to find what works for you. Me, I'm a very organized person, so when I start a book I like to draw up a schedule for writing/revisions. I estimate how many words the manuscript will turn out to be, then plan to write 1,500 words a day six days a week. If I don't reach my goal I have to write more the next day. It may seem harsh, particularly when shouldering a school schedule full of AP and IB classes, but if I don't force myself to reach my goals the work never gets done.
In addition to scheduling, I use a reward system to help me focus on what I have to do. This usually involves either food or TV. Cream cheese frosting is my weak spot; I'll eat my way through an entire tub, particularly during the revision process. Rewrites can be a stressful, harrowing experience, and comfort food serves as a yummy (albeit unhealthy) way to kick my ass into gear. I'm also a huge fan of TV on DVD (Buffy, Grey's, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, Bones, you name it) and once I get into a show, it's hard to stop watching (especially since our family got Netflix). I've tried to use this to my advantage: for every hour I write, I get to watch one episode of my latest TV favorite. Obviously this exact system isn't going to work for everyone. We all have different tastes, hobbies, and guilty pleasures, but the principle can be applied to pretty much anything. If you feel like you don't have the energy to write, give yourself a reward for finishing so many words/pages/hours.
Discipline is everything. You can be the most talented young author in the world, but that's not going to help if you can't put in the long hours required to finish a novel. It's hard. At times you want to rip your hair out or punch somebody in the face. But if you can push through, if you can force yourself to practice even when you don't feel like it, you'll eventually succeed. And trust me, the payoff will be worth it.