Browsing Tag




Exactly one year ago to the day, I sat down and began writing the first proper draft of my book. I’d written about 20,000 words of a veerryyyy rough draft the summer before, but… that was pretty much all scrapped. I managed to salvage 5,000 words, but that was it. It was, quite honestly, a load of rubbish.

So, back in January 2017, I grabbed a handful of characters who I didn’t know a lot about, a brief plot that didn’t have much substance, and got to work. This time, I was in luck: I got to 40,000 words before I had to put it to the side to tackle my dreaded AS-level exams. Seeing as though I’d written the rough draft back when I was doing my GCSE’s, I definitely don’t make things easy for myself. Something clicked with this draft, though, something that made me happy every time I added words to my manuscript. The characters sprung to life on the page, even off of the page because I couldn’t stop thinking about them; the settings I included became vivider, even more so than when I was writing them in the actual places I feature. Everything finally came together and worked.

I remember sitting in a café in Haworth after visiting the Brontë Parsonage for the first time, right around the time I’d first started writing it back in June 2016, and telling myself, “This is it.” This is going to be the book you finish, finally, after so many false starts. No more 1,000 word openings with nothing else to follow. No more giving up on writing. You’ve got this.

I’d like to think that the spirit of Emily Brontë was looking over me in that moment, because apparently THIS WAS IT. A book I’d finish seven months after starting a proper draft, query nine months later, and the book that ten months later would get me signed with a literary agent better than my wildest dreams. Thanks, Emily.

It’s been a moment of extreme highs and extreme lows (yes, the saying “blood, sweat and tears” quite LITERALLY applies to this book), but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have no idea what the next year will hold for me and my mad group of book lovers but, whatever happens, I will always be incredibly proud of my first ever book and proud of myself for having the motivation and determination to finish it.

If you’re currently writing a book, other than invoking the spirit of a genius author, my advice is, of course: YOU’VE GOT THIS. And may 2018 be an amazing writing year for us all!

I’d love to hear about your 2018 writing projects and goals in the comments below!


16 Facts About My Novel

Back at the end of last year, I made a thread on Twitter about my WIP (“work in progress”) — the novel I’ve been working on for over a year. Since then, I’ve completed two further drafts and am currently working on my last round of edits before I start querying agents, so I wanted to share some updated facts with you today and share the love for my novel!

1. It’s a contemporary YA about a book club, a literary road-trip and friendship.

2. The working title is The Art of Reading Dangerously.

3. The protagonist is called Tabby Brown, which is an unintentional Brontë reference — the Brontës’ servants were called Tabitha Aykroyd and Martha Brown.

4. I got to do lots of research last summer, visiting all of the road trip stops featured. I had an amazing time and all of the photos I took have been brilliant points of reference as I’m writing about the places months later.

5. I was inspired by advice my friend Lauren James gave at an event — I wrote a list of everything I wanted to include in a book beforehand, and the result is this book.

6. When I first started writing the book, the protagonists were older than me. Now, I’m older than them!

7. One of my favourite scenes to write is one where my main character starts her period in a strange place early in the morning. Representation of periods is so important to me because I don’t feel like it’s shown often in YA books (why?!). Plus, two of my characters have a lovely heart-to-heart.

8. I wrote my most recent draft (68,000 words!) in 22 days. Needless to say, I was rather tired afterwards!

9. Sometimes I forget that nobody else knows who my characters are and nobody else knows the story. I just want to talk about them all the time!

10. Nobody can ever gear you up for how hard writing a book is. It’s not just sitting down to write — it requires self-discipline and effort and so much time.

11. Social media and toxic friendships play a big part in it. Could I really write a book without including social media at some point? I doubt it! It’s such a big part of teenagers’ lives now, and my own. It felt natural to include it.

12. At first, one of my characters was a book blogger, but in the end I thought people might think she was too much like me. One day, though, I will actually write a character who stays as a blogger throughout all of the drafts!

13. I’ve discovered so much about myself through writing the book and it’s been on a massive journey with me. When I first started writing it, I had no friends and was starting my life afresh, just as my main character does. As I grew, she grew with me: part of the reason why friendship is so important in the book is because it was what I needed when I was writing it. The characters were my surrogate best friends!

14. I have a tendency to write really horrible parents into my books, and I have no clue why. My parents are the complete opposite: they’re lovely and so supportive. So what’s with the mean fictional parents?!

15. Originally, the book was going to be a standalone, but I’ve already planned out two prequel stories and lots of novellas. I don’t think I’ll ever want to let the characters go!

16. I’m scared about what happens next — sending the book out into the world and hoping it finds a home and that other people will enjoy it. It will cease being solely mine, and the process is very daunting. But I desperately want to see it in bookshops and have other people read it, so I’m also excited.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my book! Lots of you have been asking, especially on Instagram, about when it’s going to be published. The publishing process is long and complicated: first, I have to get an agent; then I’m most likely going to have to do more edits before it can be sold to publishers. But I promise I’m working very hard on it so that one day it can be read!

I’ve also made videos about my writing on my YouTube channel, and am hoping to share lots more about my writing process on there and on my blog too in the next few months.

Have you ever written a novel, or do you write? Share some facts about your current project in the comments below!


A Tour of my Writing Desk

When Virginia Woolf said “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write“, I am sure she meant to include a writing desk in that sentence too.

I work best in clutter – I like big piles of books, paper strewn everywhere and disorder. Tidying and cleaning are my worst enemies, so you know something’s up when I decide to do either — or both — of these things. I did, however, recently go through my desk and clear it of all rubbish, so I thought I would show you the place where lots of the magic happens.

My book towers are amongst my favourite things in the world. I pile them as high up as I can without the risk of them toppling, and every time I want a book from the middle or bottom, I get to play a game of Book Jenga. My Penguin English Library collection, centre of stage on my desktop, is a thing of awe – I’ve been building my collection for ages, and am now a bit worried that I won’t be able to fit any more on without it falling down. I’m sure I’ll work out a solution though because I can’t resist them!

On either side of my Penguin English Library stack sit two parts that make up a very huge and ever-growing to-be-read pile. There’s no real order to it, except I try to group authors together, and they probably aren’t books I’ll read immediately either, but I like displaying them anyway, because I like to keep my read and unread books separate.

I love to display cards and postcards I’ve been sent. The card on the left is a lovely one sent to me by Anna McKerrow, one of my favourite authors, and it’s a lovely reminder of how much I love her books, plus I love receiving letters and cards in the post.

The postcard on the right is one that I bought when I visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth back in the summer. The Brontë’s are my favourite authors, my inspirations, so this picture of their writing table motivates me to keep going. There’s also a scene in the book I’m working on that is set there, so it keeps me on track too!

Another card here from my lovely friend Lauren James (please go and read her books if you haven’t already!). Lauren always sends the best cards so I end up rotating them all on and off my desk. Handwritten correspondence really is the best!

To the left, I have a few bookish mugs where I keep lots of random bits and pieces. The front one contains all of my SD cards that I use for filming videos and taking pictures, but ultimately I forget to use it and they end up littered all over the house, usually tucked down the sofa or gathering dust in a forgotten corner.
Behind, I have the mug where I keep all of my bookmarks. Most are from Wordery, who send them with every book you buy (so, yes, there are LOTS of them. More than I like to think about!), but I have a few that I’ve picked up from other places too. I need lots of bookmarks or I start using other objects, like receipts and sometimes even my phone…

The main drawer can basically be summed up as: NOTEBOOKS. NOTEPADS. MORE CARDS. MORE NOTEBOOKS. I like my stationery, okay? I own way too many notebooks – many half-filled, many others with only one hastily scribbled page filled up. I have a diary (it’s very secret, shhhh) that I use to write all my thoughts down before I write – I find it really useful to get rid of all of my emotional rubbish before I start writing about totally different characters.

My favourite thing by far is writing late at night with only a tiny light, my laptop backlight and my fairy lights to see by. It’s cosy, I can tuck myself away, and it feels like I have my own writing cave. I get most of my writing done at night – it’s the time I work the best, for some reason. I can spend all day writing and get minimal work done, but then it passes 10pm and suddenly I get a rush of creative energy. I love it!

Do you have a place where you like to write or get work done? Tweet me pictures @LucyTheReader or tell me in the comments!


Writing Validation & “Not Being Good Enough”


I’ve reached to a stand-still whilst working on my manuscript at the moment. I didn’t realise fully, until now, how solitary writing can be, how it’s just me typing away at my laptop – I’m the only one writing the words, developing them in my brain to put onto paper. These collected thoughts add up to create a greater picture – a story – that I hope one day people will read, but for now it’s just me. For the first draft, it is my thoughts alone that craft the world.

In the digital age we are in, it’s easier to rope other people in that can make us feel like this solitary environment isn’t so lonely after all. We can tweet about our word counts (usually when they’re high, but sometimes when they’re low), we can call on people for motivation. I don’t like to think I need the validation, to rely on other people to make me feel good about my writing even if they’re not actually reading the words I’ve written, but lately I’ve been forgetting the enjoyment of writing and doing it to one-up myself and then tweeting about it to prove my point.

I love social media but I’ve realised that the numbers game (the striving for more followers, a bigger reach, etc.) has walked over to my writing and taken over big time. Instead of writing a scene because I want to, because I’ll enjoy getting it written, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of numbers – how many words will this add today, how fast can I write it? It’s blurring the lines between writing because I’m passionate about it and writing because I feel like I have to do it. 

I’ve also currently been finding company in other books. I can simultaneously avoid working on my novel and try to glean writing advice from within the pages of timeless classics, but I have discovered that this has the potential to be harmful to my productivity and self-esteem. You see, I’ve come to realise that I can read as much Virginia Woolf as I want but I’ll never write like Virginia Woolf because I am not Virginia Woolf. I find her stream of consciousness so beautiful and lyrical but comparing my writing to her writing in the process will not help anyone – if I tried to replicate it, it would be just that: a replica of Virginia Woolf’s writing.

I sometimes wonder if I didn’t occupy this corner of the Internet, if I didn’t keep up with this blog and involve myself in the writing community, if I would still write. It’s the demon lurking in the depths of my head – “You wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t know other writers.”

So I try to remind myself now – I have always loved writing. I take comfort in leaking words out through my typing fingers and making sense of them once they’re in front of me. Writing to me is like breathing; I can’t live without writing, just like I can’t live without breathing.

Here is my advice to myself: Write because you love it, because if you don’t you’ll go insane with the words building up in your head. Write for YOU – anyone else is a bonus.


My Writing Recipe


Something absolutely incredible happened last night: I reached 10,000 words on the novel that I’m currently working on. It might not seem like a huge deal and I still have a long way to go – and it’s just my first draft! – but I couldn’t be more proud.

If you read my previous writing post, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling to pass 2,000 words on any of the projects I’ve been working on, so after a big writing kick on Sunday with the help of some of my lovely friends on Twitter (extra big thanks to Sally!), I pushed past the 2K barrier and wrote 3,500 words in a single day. I don’t think that’s ever happened before!

There were a few things that contributed to this, which I’ve decided to call my Writing Recipe!


I’ve always had a rough idea of plot, but never taken the time to sit down and actually write a step-by-step plot outline, with character details and a basic idea of what the final scene will look like. Now that I’ve got one it’s so easy to see the direction I’m heading in and my character arcs. I wish I’d started outlining sooner!

Two: Determination and Motivation

I had to give myself a serious pep talk by telling myself that I CAN DO THIS. It’s okay wanting to write, but wanting and actually doing are two entirely different things when you’re facing a blank word document.

I’m constantly setting myself new targets and working with my project, rather than fighting against it. I know I can’t write 3,000 words every day, but I can still try to write as much as I possibly can. Being prepared to rework targets is always a good skill to have when it comes to writing!

Three: Write in short bursts

I’ve been setting myself challenges of writing for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, which seems to have worked. This has worked best when I’m beginning a new chapter or scene so that I can initially splurge all the words down, but as I progress through a scene I try to spend more time on crafting the scene in my head to try to follow a general direction. I’ve tried to work in bursts of half an hours but I spend too much time procrastinating when I do this. All the baby steps add up!

Four: Writing partners!

On Sunday morning, my friend Sally and I started a hashtag on Twitter called #SundayWritealong where we held writing sprints and it was so much fun to work with other people – having other people as motivators can really help because you can feel as if you’re working towards something more… and my competitive streak comes out too!

Five: I really, really, really love this project.

I initially wrote a list of everything I wanted to include in a novel and tried to incorporate all of them into this project… which has meant that I basically get to write all day about books!

I’m also super in love with my characters, especially two of my secondary characters who are lots of fun to write. I’m especially looking forward to the parts later on when I can mess them up and set them against each other. Mwahahaha! 😉


I’m researching as I go along, but research for this project is especially fun because it has meant actually going to the settings and getting to walk around, seeing the places as my characters would. I’ll have a few more blog posts on this coming up in the next few weeks!

I’m planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo in July, which I am incredibly excited for. I’m aiming to write 35,000 words during the month as I’d like to finish my first draft by the end of the summer, but it would be nice to reach the full target of 50,000 – just to see if I can do it! I’ve never won NaNoWriMo before so it will be a challenge but I am ready to BRING IT.

How do you write best? Share your advice with me in the comments!


The Pressures of Writing


I’ve always loved writing. Words are like an extension of my own body and I turn to them through times good and bad. When I was around eight, I used to write stories based on the Sylvanian Families I used to collect and I loved nothing more than when I could spend lessons writing about imaginary worlds and flex my writing muscles. Now, I turn to poetry when I need to express myself and characters occupy my head, waiting to be brought to life on the page through magic metaphors and daring imagery.

Having the dream of making a living out of my writing, though, has come at a price. When I started my blog four years ago, I never thought I’d be able to get to know actual authors, or become a part of the YA community. Suddenly I got to know the ins and outs of writing a novel and become friends with people who wrote every day. And then the pressure set in.

It’s hard not to compare yourself to other people when they seem to be writing ALL THE WORDS or getting great book deals. I have a habit of crumpling at 2,000 words and giving up, and it’s hard to push through this and to not give up. I know that I’ll never reach my dream of publishing a book if I don’t finish that book, but sometimes that feeling can become so overwhelming that you feel as if you have to give up whilst you’re ahead.

It is, however, also possible to see a way out. I have to remind myself that I write for me and no one else. Writing poetry has helped immensely with this because I have no urges to share the poems that I write, no feeling that I need to share the stuff I’ve written to prove myself in some way. I know that some of my poetry is utter rubbish, but I also feel satisfied that at some point it helped me and allowed me to express myself. Poetry is my light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s hard not to succumb to the pressures of writing, but it’s also possible not to. I’m starting to believe in my writing and believe in myself. I can do this, and so can you.

Do you feel pressured to write a certain way or pressured to write amazingly? How do you try to overcome this? Share your advice!


Young Authors


With lots more authors under the age of 20 being published, those of us left behind can often feel the mounting pressure. So how much of a difference does being published at a young age make?

Being 15, every birthday can feel like a step closer to author failure. My teenagerdom is a ticking time bomb. I’m in the process of starting my own manuscript, but it’s as if the pressure is on. Young people being published is an amazing thing, and I am in awe of every single person who has been published at such a young age, but I can’t help but feel a tiny bit inconsequential every time I hear about a new book deal.

That being said, young authors are amazing. Often they have to juggle schoolwork with writing, edits and then promotional stuff afterwards. I hate the phrase “that’s so good! I can’t believe he/she is so young” because young people have exactly the same potential as older people. I find it rather degrading because I’ve read books by young authors that are far better than those written by older writers.

I need to remind myself that there’s no rush. Take your time, figure out who you are as person and how you write, and it will all come naturally. Write because you love it; not because you feel like you have to.


Writing….More Than This by Patrick Ness

Today I’ve decided to do something a bit different and share a piece of my writing. I’ve recently started going to a writing squad which has been really good and encouraged me to write more, and this is one of the pieces I wrote for it. We had to write like an author that will be at Bath Kids Lit Fest and I chose Patrick Ness, whose event was fab, even if we did turn up late. This piece is a scene written just after More Than This ended and should contain only minimal spoilers, but I can’t promise anything.

Here is the boy, waking up.

He’s drowsy at first, disconcerted. There’s something covering his eyes and body, something that feels entirely wrong. He feels restricted, claustrophobic. Where is he?

And then he remembers. I’m Seth, he thinks, I’m Seth. And suddenly he has a purpose. I’m Seth, and I am an anomaly.

It’s suddenly a rush to break free from his restrictions. The bandages are tough to remove but he struggles and struggles with them until suddenly he’s granted freedom. Freedom. Will anybody ever be truly limitless in this world where people are living in simulations, not conscious of the fact that there’s more out there, just out of their reach? And speaking of the simulations, where is he now: online or living reality?

He starts to think about his life online, as he now knows it. What will his parents, Owen, Gudmund, be doing at this moment? Just thinking about being reunited with them fills his heart with an inconceivable amount of joy. He’s missed them. He never thought he’d say it before. You take things for granted when they’re always in front of you. His time in the real world had taught him that. How many times had Tomasz or Regine nearly been torn away from him? In those days when he had been truly alone, he had learned that sometimes it’s the silent companionship that matters. Knowing that someone is present, looking out for you, guarding your back, can sometimes mean the most.

He strains his ears to hear something, anything. He yearns for human activity at this time when he can’t rely on his vision; it’s pitch black in this enclosed space, and his eyes hurt from when he ripped the bandages off. Frustration overwhelms him and he wants to scream. Where is he?

And then suddenly there is light. It takes him a moment to adjust to the brightness, a moment of fast blinking and squinting.

His heart sinks.

The face peering at him once reminded him of his brother, Owen. The face peering at him is attached to a body that saved his life countless times. He should feel happy that he is seeing Tomasz again, and somewhere deep down he is pleased to see this boy who was braver than anybody he’d ever known, but he couldn’t help but feel a plummeting in his stomach: it hadn’t worked.

               ‘Mr Seth? Mr Seth?’ Tomasz always had a positive note in his voice.

Quietly, ‘It didn’t work.’ Again, and much louder, ‘It didn’t work.’

               Another voice surfaces. ‘You knew it was a possibility, Seth.’ The to-the-point tone makes it clear that this is Regine.

               ‘It’s my family, Regine! What did you expect?’ Seth grabs hold of the edge of the coffin, perhaps a little too tightly, and heaves himself up with the help of Tomasz.

               ‘We don’t have family either.’ Seth is surprised at the tone of Regine’s voice. It’s not often that she hints at her emotions, only when she’s thinking of her life before. ‘You and Tomasz are the only family I’ve got now. We need to stick together.’

               ‘Family,’ Seth whispers. He’ll never see his parents or Owen or Gudmund or H or Monica again, not unless they find another way to get Seth online or take them offline. And maybe he will learn to come to terms with that. He has Tomasz and Regine now and they need him as much as he needs them.

 He’s ready for the future.

Hope you liked it!