How to make time… and keep making time.

TL;DR Keep at it, rinse and repeat. Eventually, the word-count will add up.

I’m still in high school at this date and time. Miserable experience, I know. The long and the short of it is that I can’t write regularly. There’s sports and homework and tests and compulsory reading and the texts from friends on a Friday night that roughly translates to “u busy? lets hang lol” (atrocious punctuation included). Now, my friends are great and all, but you can’t exactly stop and tell them that: “Actually, guys, I want to stay in and work on my dorky sci-fi novel.”

No, you can’t. Same as you can’t seem to say no to your teachers or employers or even your family. All that’s left to do after the clock runs down is to say no to yourself and your projects and go to bed, hoping that the next day you will write at least a few pages.

Writing and finishing a piece is a tough job which takes time, I absolutely know and understand. But you know what will be a tougher and longer job? Rewrites. Edits. But more on that later.

Because, you see, it is physically impossible to edit a blank page with 0 words in the bottom bar of your Word document.

The blinking cursor is intimidating for sure. Get yourself a timed 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes a day. Go! Write the worst nonsense you can, but don’t stop, don’t let a 1-day gap between writing sessions become a week, a month, a story lying in your proverbial drawer, gathering dust. Or, you know, in your head or the Notes app on your phone.

I’ve been there. School and a lot of Stressful Stuff™️ inevitably got in the way. I stopped writing for almost a month. What used to be fun became a mountain looming above me – I was beyond late for all sorts of editing and re-writing deadlines that I’d set myself. The ‘write 20k this week or die’ alert from your Google Calendar is the stuff of nightmares, I’m sure you’ll agree.

What helped with both the stress and my slow progress was coming up with ideas and little story notes while I worked on my other commitments. At school, on the subway, buying groceries. When I re-read them, the world and characters I was building all along became richer, more thought-out and real.

Never stop thinking about your manuscript, finished or not. If you’re too busy to write, get inspired by the things keeping you busy. Being afraid of not writing enough, or not writing well isn’t a valid excuse.

See you after that great writing sesh.

AS

It was a dark and stormy night and I was washing white sneakers.

To write a novel, a novella or even just a short story, you need an idea, a start. A premise from which your plot can grow.

Sometimes that idea can be a vision of new technology, of a world beyond our own, of characters long ago and far away. Sometimes that idea is an emotion. No matter if it’s anger or sadness or pure happiness, you can harness it into a story. It might seem like there are endless possibilities of where you can go from an empty Word page, but, well, speaking of happiness: whenever you begin to develop an idea, ask yourself: “Does it spark joy?” Because you will need all the joy you can get to keep writing after you notice a plot-hole infestation in your novel on page 120, single-spaced.

When it comes to my own debut sci-fi novel, the idea started out some two years ago as a way of expressing frustration with the quite indecent amount of content being produced through our consumerism, both virtual and physical. Not that I’m guiltless in the matter – literally writing a book to express my displeasure at the amount of stuff being written – ironic, I know.

But what if it all stopped? What if people were unable to produce anything, creative or otherwise, beyond their bare needs?

No spoilers! Just consider those questions…

As for the plot, I got lucky, or inspired, or both and the rough outline emerged in just one evening. I was washing my white sneakers (RIP), laces and soles, and the story was set in motion, coming together while my hands turned to prunes under the suds of Vanish ‘oxi action’ stain remover. Kids, don’t walk through a storm in white shoes!

Washing my next pair of white Nikes (I am incorrigible) is still a way of letting my mind wander through concepts and scenes in my novel. Other times, I’m inspired by talking to others, the truly great ideas arriving while I describe a chapter over a call or am messaging my school artist friends. Sometimes, it’s music or music videos. Films. Other books. Fashion. Emotion, again.

But the biggest source of ideas is the story itself. During my writing, I have made my peace with the notion that my own novel is going to enter the (mostly useless) sea of content, content and ever more content. The characters and the plot evolved, as did I. New things and people came into my life, bringing forth new ideas. Washing my new Nikes brought me new words.

Look for your own story in your own experiences, and learn to set apart the ideas that spark interest or joy. To conclude: write what you enjoy.

Good luck with your own white sneaker thoughts.

AS

Show – never tell.

…Except in this case, when I need to use my words and include a short DISCLAIMER.

Informality is essential to authenticity, at least when it comes to me and my Gen-Z “lol-xD-u-feel-me?” street talk. So, at least for now, my blog will be a melange of appropriate, funky and sometimes funny speech, all strictly PG.

When it comes to presenting myself to the outside world, especially such official institutions as other writers, agents, publishers, teachers etc., this choice may be a tad risky.

Hence a quick word of instruction:

  • If you are here for business, please head over to my bio – all other informational aspects of my work can be found there too. Please direct your inquiries by email (anastasia(at)slabucho(dot)com).
  • If you are here for pleasure (i.e. as a reader or fan), please don’t hesitate to DM me on social media.

Having gotten that out of the way, welcome again.

Some quick words of advice, since every post of mine should, in theory, be helpful: formal versus informal language in books is primarily at the writer’s discretion. Slang and un-essay-like turns of phrase can be powerful, and even essential, if used to create the right atmosphere or to show character. On the other hand, don’t let your book deteriorate into a romp through urbandictionary.com.

Personally, I am using a third-person limited POV for my work, which naturally only allows me to use not-so-literary language in direct speech throughout dialogues. If you were writing a mob boss’ diary, it would probably be a lot more uncouth. So to conclude my little discussion: choose a register appropriate for your narrator and stick with it.

I will be posting more details about my debut novel, myself and my writing process shortly.

Enjoy my blog section with all its informalities.

AS

Once upon a time… Nevermind.

Hey there, I’m Anastasia S.

I’m 16, a high-schooler in Europe and now officially a writer.

W-R-I-T-E-R. It’s a scary word for a scary craft, which I am a long way from mastering. The advice I give won’t be perfect, but this blog is here to give you some authentic insight into the teen novelist experience, not a dry roadmap from blank page to book-signings. 

I’ll try to keep posts as concise and structured as possible without becoming unbearably boring. Full disclosure, I’m honestly not sure where my book or this blog will take me, so hold onto your hats.

Nice to meet you.

AS