Friday, January 28, 2011

New Tabs

Most of you probably didn't notice, but I added some new tabs at the top of my blog. I finally got around to editing the pages, adding stuff, etc, so if you're bored you should check them out and tell me what you think :).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Advice for Young Writers: Be Disciplined

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.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Writing is like painting

So I'm an artist. Sort of. Kind of. A little. I've taken classes at school, including both AP and IB Art, and I've done some painting/drawing on my own. Yesterday, I came across photos of a 20 square foot oil painting I did at the beginning of my junior year. For some reason I took pictures during every stage of the process. Like painting, writing evolves over time; what starts out rough and undeveloped can turn out to be much more polished with the proper revisions. As an example, I've posted the photos I found, outlining the artistic journey from start to finish. If you take issue with nude figures, don't look at these.

Oil painting was never exactly my strong suit, but I was forced to teach myself when I signed up for IB Art. I'm more of a pencil person. Last year I got into portaits:

Anyways, this is sort of a pointless post, and the pictures are pretty crappy quality. I'm just takin' up space :).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year

Yes, 2010 is officially over!!! Done. Complete. Finite.

All in all this year was pretty awesome. I met so many wonderful people. In particular I'd like to thank my writer friends, those from WIFYR and yourword, who have encouraged me through the often arduous process of completing two books (The Hamsa's Song and my current WIP). You guys are amazing! Writing has always been a lonely pursuit for me, but meeting other aspiring authors really helped me come out of my shell.

Kenya was one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget those people, the children especially, and I can't wait to visit the orphanage in Ghana next summer. Winning the Scholastic PUSH novel contest was another highlight, one that I hope will jump-start my career. The people at Scholastic have been so kind and encouraging. Thank you for these awards! Gaining recognition at a young age is great for any artist or writer, and it's definitely prompted me to keep working toward my goal.

To all you people out there who actually read this blog, I hope your year was as fun as mine was! I'm so grateful for everything I have. Here's to 2010, and let's make 2011 even better!!!