So, in my last post I asked if anyone had suggestions for what I should write about and I got three very good questions from Cora ... And I figured I'd just answer them in this post because they're probably useful to all you teenage novelists out there. Here we go!
1. How do you deal with the times when you just want to give up, crawl into bed and eat Cheetos because you won't ever finish this novel/project? Have this ever happened to you? If not, how did you stop it from happening, or was it just by chance that you never experienced this?
Hmm ... I don't think I've ever entirely lost faith in a novel. That is, even if I'm extremely frustrated with something, I figure I'm just not ready to write it and I'll move on and get back to it later. But sure, I've been in many writing slumps where I moped around going, "My book sucks ... It'll never be any good ... I'm going to bang my head against a wall ... Blaaahhh." But there's always something you can do to get yourself out of this slump.
My first suggestion would be––as hard as it is––force yourself to write. Just start with one sentence, and see what happens. A lot of the time, I discover that the only reason I was "stuck" was because I was being lazy and not trying. But if you absolutely can't think of anything, try doing something else. Make an outline, do character inventories, etc. Even move on to another project if you have to! Just because you set something aside temporarily doesn't mean you're giving up. Sometimes you can't help it, and you need to wait for inspiration to strike!
2. I've been working on this novel idea but a new one just sprung into my head. It's not as developed as my original idea, but I'm really excited about it. How do you get out of the cycle of this happening again and again?
Actually ... I don't. According to my "STUFF I'M WRITING" folder, I'm juggling 8 stories right now––and that's not counting all the ideas I have but haven't started yet. Granted, I haven't touched most of those stories in a long time, but that doesn't mean I won't go back to them.
There's nothing wrong with writing more than one story at once. If you have an idea––by all means, start writing it! I know how tempting new ideas are. They're all big and shiny, and not tainted with plot holes yet ... *sighs dreamily* It doesn't hurt to write a first chapter or two. But make sure that you don't have a thousand first chapters and no complete stories. Personally, I like to outline all my stories so I have an idea of where they're going; that way I have a reminder that yes, cool things will happen in this story so I shouldn't abandon it! You have to remember to finish what you start––but it could take months or years, and there could be other stories in between. For example, this is what my past year in writing has looked like:
1. Finished Walking Shadow
2. Edited Walking Shadow
3. Started Unraveling and Rage at about the same time
4. Continued writing Jump after about a 6-month break ... Wrote more of Unraveling and the occasional chapter of Rage
5. Edited Walking Shadow again
6. Kept writing Jump ... Also wrote the first chapters of Sky-Fall and Spill
7. Finished writing Jump
8. Didn't write much for a few months ... Maybe wrote a few chapters of Unraveling
9. Started writing Zenith and kept writing it for half of November ... Then halfway through November switched over to Unraveling, which I kept writing until the end of November
10. Edited Edge
11. Went back to Unraveling and finally finished it
12. And now I'm trying to decide between writing Rage or Sky-Fall while also outlining a bunch of things, and thinking about editing Walking Shadow yet again.
*Whew* So as you can see ... There are 8 stories mentioned in there, and I still managed to finish three of them! You just have to remember to go back to things you've started, even if it takes a while.
3. If you talk to parents/teachers/friends about writing novels, have you ever experienced the "Oh, good for you!" kind of reaction, when it's plain in their faces that they don't believe you're any good, based on your age? You're older by now, but did you deal with this when you were young?
Hmm. I don't remember ever getting a reaction like that––at least, I've never interpreted it that way. Usually I keep quiet about my writing, especially around adults ... but if it comes up, usually people seem pretty impressed and enthusiastic. Honestly, I don't think adults care about the quality of teenagers' writing; it's kind of a given that teen writing isn't perfect. But we all have to start off somewhere, and adults know that. If you tell an adult that you're a writer, he/she will probably just be impressed that you take the time to write in the first place. After all, it takes a lot of dedication.
And even if they do think, "Oh, she's probably no good" ... then so what? You can't control what other people think. But you know how much you love writing, and you know how good you are. So, isn't that all that matters?
Thanks for the questions, Cora! If anyone else has questions, feel free to ask :)