Dubai: If there was one advice top-notch authors writing for younger audiences sought to emphasise to aspiring writers on Saturday, it could be summarised in three words: ‘Write. Write. Write'.
"Write — there are no shortcuts; it's all about hard work. The more you write, the more you learn, the better you get. You will make mistakes, you will write bad stories, but you'll learn from those and you will improve," said Darren Shan, whose horror novels have been published in 34 countries and translated into at least 27 languages.
Shan joined three other writers in a session on how to write for young adults at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Saturday. "The sooner you realise that, the sooner you'll become a real writer. You don't become a real writer when you get published, that's you getting paid to be a writer. You'll become a writer when you dedicate yourself to write and you make yourself to write."
In conversation with Festival director Isobel Abulhoul, science fiction novelist Noura Al Noman had special advice of her own. "Don't wait till you're 45 ‘cause that's what I did. Write, write, write and just let the words flow."
And when the topic veered to writer's block, the verdict was unanimous: "Writer's block doesn't exist. It's an excuse a lot of people use in writing," Shan said.
British author David Almond revealed how he dealt with the problem. He said he would stick a note in front of his study that read ‘Sit on your story' and, if he still felt like leaving the room, the first thing he'd see posted on the door was ‘Go back'.
"The challenge to writing is [the thought of] writing something perfectly right away. Allow yourself to write rubbish. Allow yourself to be imperfect," he said.
Tim Bowler, among the UK's most compelling and original writers for teenagers, said: "Every story, every time, is a mountain that has never been climbed before; it's uncharted territory. You can't edit what has not been written so put the words down."
Another top tip was to write about any subject and to not limit oneself to any particular genre.