Author August: Abigail Gibbs – Being a Student and a Writer

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

For all but one year of my writing life, I have been a student. Through the first years of secondary school, through exams and interviews, through university and eventually graudation, writing has been my constant companion. It has helped me endure difficult times, and it has created incredible opportunities. It has also been a constant pain, particularly during my student years.

DSC_0189__2_School is hard. Not enough adults (I am definitely not a real adult yet) acknowledge this truth. Studying never ends. There is no 9-5 when you are learning something, and that can make it hard to find time to write (anda sleep, and socialise, and sleep). So, as a former student who survived school with two books under her belt, I am here to provide you with a survival guide on how to finish that novel and not flunk class.

  1. Do actually write. Smash the keyboard like it is 11:55pm and you are still 500 words short of the minimum word count for your essay if you have to.
  2. Be an anthropologist.* You are never going to spend so much time with young adults as you will in school or university. Take notes and make vague noises of denial when friends ask if you have based characters on them.
  3. Get up early. Achieve lots! And remember that time is a relative concept. If early is 10am for you, sweet breakfast-at-noon child, then snooze away.
  4. Tell your teachers about your writing. Chances are, they are probably working on their masterpiece too, and will be supportive. This is particularly helpful if you are at any intensive stage of the writing and/or publishing process (editing, querying, publicity etc.) and need to ask for some flexibility. If they are not supportive, see point two for ‘vague noises of denial’ should they ever bring up your writing again.
  5. 15998621Accept change. You are likely going to mature pretty quickly during your school and university years. Your writing style may change, and so will the ideas you wish to convey. Only you can decide if this change is an improvement, and you absolutely should incorporate your newfound wisdom into your work-in-progress. But don’t waste time editing your earlier writing if you don’t have a clear sense of what you wish to use it for. Juvenilia has value too.
  6. Join writing societies and clubs. No, really. Go socialise. Two birds, one stone.
  7. Use your vacations to maximise your writing time. If you are able to take time off from work (studying or paid), to write, do. If you find intensive writing difficult, try participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (the summer version of National Novel Writing Month). It’s during school vacations and I can confirm it is a very effective guilt-trip.
  8. Don’t stop reading in your genre. Cue nostalgic I’m-getting-old moment: my biggest regret from my university years is that I stopped reading young adult fiction in favour of reading only books on my course lists. I lacked inspiration the entire time.
  9. And if all else fails, write during lectures. Nobody will ever know.


*Research totally counts as writing time.

My personal thanks to Abigail for taking part in Author August!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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