Ever since the day my childish scrawl bore some resemblance to the English language, I have wanted to write. I remember my first story, composed the day, at the age of six, I finally grasped the concept of speech marks. Over the course of four pages, it described the encounter of two rabbits, who introduced themselves as Tom and Sarah. Quickly becoming firm friends, they returned to Sarah's warren, snuggling in its warm depths, and shared an ample feast of carrots.
My second story was probably four times the length, and dealt with more 'adult' issues. A lonely elephant, desperate for children, bumps into an old friend, another elephant called Jamie. The pair marry and have lots of babies. I have a feeling that I didn't finish that one, but the plot was planned thoroughly from beginning to end. I still have it somewhere.
During free time at school, a friend and I would staple wads of paper together, producing books in which we wrote stories. Thus, my lifelong ambition was conceived.
For as long as I can remember, I have spent hours during my spare time, formulating, and scribbling down ideas. During the course of my lifetime, I must have come up with ideas for hundreds of stories! But up until recently, I did not have the experience for dealing with writer's block, and would often come to an abrupt halt just a few pages into a story; one that I found myself frequently unable to breakthrough.
I also fell into the bad habit of immediately dropping an old idea for a new idea. These days, if ever I have a new idea, I write down a full synopsis, and anything of importance, but I try and retain my focus on what I am already writing.
One summer, when I was sixteen, I had an idea that would eventually become an outline for a series of five novels. Within a year, I succeeded in writing sixty pages, a new record, before the inevitable writer's block returned. I was dissatisfied with what I had written. I felt my ideas were unoriginal, and I put the whole ambitious project to one side.
Shortly after this incident, a new idea came to mind, one that I spent about two years fleshing out. When I had the main body of the story in my head, I began to write, and after a couple of attempts, it took off. I am a real perfectionist when it comes to writing. If ever I write something I'm not happy with, I'm often inclined to go back and write it over and over again, until I find I am making no progress. I have found since that it is much more productive to continue with what I am writing, and save the editing phase for once I have completed the draft.
I began to hear my protagonist's voice. I learned all about her, and the rest of my characters, until I we were as familiar as close friends. I had just taken my exams, and had begun the four month long summer holidays, opening a window of opportunity to write without the distraction of lectures and assignments. This time, I began to write with ease, and the word count began to increase rapidly. I set myself targets, and dates for completion, focusing on my goal with optimism, and renewed determination.
And now, at the other side of the summer holidays, I have one-hundred-and-eighty pages of a first draft, not far from completion. Occasionally, if writer's block threatens, I will read through what I have already written to find that I am mostly happy with it. There are gaps that require filling, but I have conquered my insecurities, and resolved to revise them once I have finished the first draft.
My target for the completion of the first draft is Christmas day. I have three months and 'I must write like the wind', as the poet, Gillian Clarke determines in her poem, October.