Ever since I was seven years old, I've been writing. I remember writing about a girl named Kate's birthday, about a balloon whose friends all floated away, and three men riding on horses and they were on some sort of mission (for some reason I cannot, for anything, remember what their mission was).
Even as such a young child, I dreamed about publishing one of my books. One of my biggest dreams was always to be the youngest person to write a bestselling novel. When I was eleven years old, though, I decided: It was time and I was going to write a novel and self-publish it. I didn't want to wait anymore.
From seven years old until now: here are seven of the biggest things I've learned about writing.
1. Don't settle for less.
Don't settle for less than what you're capable of. You have a story inside of you and it's waiting to get out. If you're not satisfied with your first chapter or last chapter or a specific line -- go ahead and write it again! Keep trying until you get it right. If you're not satisfied with your editor's style, don't be afraid to get a new one. If you're not satisfied with the qualifications of a publisher or the amount of money you get to keep from the sales of your own book, don't be hesitant to find a new publisher or even consider self-publishing.
2. If your story doesn't have excitement and high stakes, it probably won't turn out well.
My first full-on novel attempt at eleven years old took me three to four years and I never ended up finishing it. Why? I didn't have a stable plot or even a goal for the book. I wasn't sure where I wanted it to go or what the point was in the end. Make sure you have a stable, smooth going plotline to your story.
3. Scenes need to be important to the story.
Of course, if you're participating in something like NaNoWriMo, it's technically okay for you to write scenes that aren't exactly incredibly important to story in order to keep your word count up. But when you're revising your novel or writing a second draft, scenes need to be important to the story. If it's just a filler scene it's going to bore your reader and be a waste of time.
4. Don't mix present tense with past tense.
Something I tend to find myself doing is writing in past tense but adding in present tense words. Example: I never thought that this day would the day everything would change.
The problem with this line is that it says "this day". That's a present tense word mixed in with everything else that is past tense. Instead, it should say "that day".
5. It takes a while -- but not forever.
When I was seven and I decided I wanted to get published, there were so many moments when I came across realizations that began crushing my dream. I found out that it takes years to write a book, you have to write it and then write it again and again until it's perfect, you have to get an agent, and then you have to wait for a publisher.
Now, just imagine what that sounded like to a seven year old. Of course my dream felt crushed.
And it's true: writing a novel does take a while. But it doesn't take forever. And if you really want it and keep at it, you can do it. It's a fun process and if you choose to self-publish, it doesn't take nearly as long.
6. Don't let anyone break your dream.
If you want to write a novel, then write a novel. Chase your dream, shoot for the stars and don't let anyone break your dream. It might take a while, but it won't take forever.