Children’s story book author Sarah Lucas answers some of her readers’ questions.
How old were you when you began to write and what was the first thing you wrote?
I was nine. I wrote a poem at school and finished it off at home. My teacher loved it! I went back to that school a few years ago, Featherbank Junior School in Horsforth, Leeds and stood in the hall. The memory of that poem came flooding back. Think it was the smell of the place – what memories! When I was eleven I wrote a story about my older brother who used to run away from home all the time; he was the oldest of three and a bit of a rebel. I wrote the story straight off in an A5 booklet and put stickers all over the cover – planet Earth, a famous footballer, a model with a cool haircut and a picture of someone I used to fancy who lived along our road.
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
The times I do get stuck are usually when I haven’t a plan and I’ve gone off on a different train of thought (fun times!), I go back to the plan. Other times I get stuck it’s because the writing isn’t working; that’s when I try a different approach like listing bullet points or making simple statements in a logical sequence. There’s always the moment I know my head’s not in it; on those occasions I go for a walk or a run, come back refreshed.
Should I write about what I know?
It helps if you can. It will make your writing consistent if you are describing a person you know and the sound of their voice or the way they walk will already be in your head. Writing about places you know will always be of interest to others. The snail books are based around where I live. When the children are reading them and they come to visit, they can see what I am describing which is a great way of making another connection with readers.
Roald Dahl. Every time.
Do you write on the computer or in a book?
Both. But I do find that writing on a blank page is a joy, a real delight and I like to see the words flow. It makes me think about the way authors used to write, especially those who would write by candlelight. I just love words!
Where do you write?
I write in different places to switch things up. Sometimes at the kitchen table, outside in the garden, or out on walks. But my favourite space is my writing desk which is a proper desk with drawers to the left and right and a hole in the middle for my legs (and sometimes our dog, Lola)!
I struggle with writing. What should I do?
If you don’t enjoy it, don’t push it. Do what you have to do by making lists of ideas, spider diagrams or story mountains. Many of the children I teach find it easier to draw their story either as a cartoon or as sketches, then they go on to write. That, or choose five or six colour pictures they like and have a go at making a random story out of them. It can be fun and as long or as short as you need it to be. And the more you do it, the better and quicker you should become.