Nominated for the prestigious Branford Boase Award, author Ros Roberts gives her top tips for budding young authors.
As a young writer, you know that writing is a wonderful, incredible way to spend your time.
I’m guessing you also know it can be frustratingly hard!
Imagine I show you an intricately painted glass vase and then I say to you, “I want to make these. I’d like to make lots of them, and I’d like to sell them in shops and be respected by my customers and other craftspeople. How should I go about it?”
You would probably tell me to go on a course, get lots of advice and most of all, practise, practise, practise!
You’d imagine me breaking lots of vases along the way. It would take me years!
Becoming the writer you are meant to be is just like learning to make intricate glass vases. It is going to take time and effort and practice.
A few writers turn out masterpieces at the age of 18 but not many! You will write lots of things that never get finished but you will have learned so much along the way and had a lot of fun.
It took me many years to work out the right voice for my writing, but it was the best journey I have ever been on.
My top tips:
1. Sign up for a course:
A guided course can be a great way to get going and then practice.
2. Try and aim for a certain number of words a day/session:
I aim for 600 but you could aim for 100. Some words are better than none.
3. Read lots!
Reading lots of books, in a genre you enjoy, will help improve your writing.
4. Find a quiet space and put your phone away:
Give yourself a target – maybe even just half an hour to write and do nothing else.
5. Carry a notebook for ideas:
Ideas for plot, character, setting, or dialogue can come at the craziest of times.
6. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the bit you know...
It might be at the end or the middle or just be about a game of cards but if that’s the clearest bit, dive in there. You may find the part you thought was the middle is actually the beginning or the end.
7. Build your story like a jigsaw:
It doesn’t have to all be in order!
8. Let the first draft flow...
But then be ready to re-write and edit, edit, edit.
9. Read your work aloud:
The bits that don’t work often shout at you.
10. Let someone else read your writing...
I never showed my writing to anyone. If you’re braver than me, choose someone who isn’t so close to you. They will be much more honest!
Be dedicated to the writing, and celebrate the talent you have.
12. Finally, and most importantly, enjoy it...
Writing is a privilege and a joy!
I hope one of these pointers makes a difference to your work. I attended a workshop many years ago where the writers discussed a famous author who just aimed at 600 words a day. That one, simple nugget literally changed everything for me.
I wish you all the luck in the world. Go smash those vases!
Ros Roberts is shortlisted for the 2022 Branford Boase Award with her book Digger and Me. The Branford Boase Award is awarded annually to the author of the year’s outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor(s) of the winning title.
Instagram – rosrobertswriter
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Website – rosroberts.co.uk
Digger and Me, by Ros Roberts, is out now in paperback (£6.99, Little Tiger Press Group, ISBN 9781788953207)