Today we’re hearing from fifteen-year-old Peyton McDonald who was eager to share her thoughts on two of the most important aspects of being a writer – motivation and inspiration. She’s written and self-published a touching debut novel, Before The End Of Summer and is already at work on her second.
What is Before the End of summer about?
Before the End of Summer follows a teenager named Oliver Bellamy. The story starts on the last day of his eighth grade school year. When Oliver arrives home, his father gives him a bucket list that has been in the family for generations. He’s told that he needs to complete ten things off of the list before the end of summer. The list consists of things like skydiving, competing in a rodeo, flying to France and much more. Oliver works with old and new friends to complete the tasks and learns new things about himself and those around him in the process.
What sort of things inspire you? How do you hold onto inspiration?
Inspiration comes to me in many different ways. It can just wash over me like a wave, and other times it creeps up on me slowly. People often tend to inspire me. There are teachers who have impacted me immensely; the things they do for others and their dedication gives me a rush of adrenaline to inspire others as well. Other pieces of literature can help inspire me, not with an idea, but with a feeling to create something. Nature and different types of scenery always inspire the settings in my stories. I love exploring new places. I am lucky enough to live in a place where beautiful scenery is common and I often pull things from that because of all my experiences. My feelings often inspire me. Whether I’m feeling mad, sad, happy, annoyed, excited, anxious, it all feeds into my writing. I want to write with true emotion.
Holding onto inspiration is usually difficult. It tends to fade off and on, especially when life gets busy with school, homework, sports, clubs, etc. I like having my notebooks close by; sometimes just seeing them puts me in the mood and keeps me thinking. Anytime I have an idea, I tend to feel creative and want to spend all my time writing. I like looking through my older stories and seeing how far I’ve come; that helps me hold onto any inspiration or get it started again. I even look through Before the End of Summer sometimes and see how much I’ve grown in a year! I feel like inspiration is a machine. There’s always a switch that turns it on and once it’s going, it’s going to get work done!
Are your family and friends supportive of your writing?
I am extremely grateful to have supportive family, friends and community. When I announced my book, there was nothing but positive feedback. I was in middle school at the time. I brought a sample copy to school as soon as I’d gotten it. People knew that I adored writing, but only a few new that something bigger was actually in the works. Lunch was filled with hugs, congratulations and overall excitement. It was one of the best days of my life. My whole family was so excited for me, my brothers and parents, I can hardly describe how much they did for me. At my elementary school, things were unbelievable. My first-grade teacher told me that I would write a book one day, and going back to my elementary school and showing her was phenomenal. With so many people supporting me, I was able to give a speech in front of many sophisticated people, sign books and answer questions.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
Writing always energizes me. It’s my favorite thing to do and just flipping to a new page in a notebook or opening up a blank word document gets me excited. New ideas floating in my brain and being written or typed out…it’s fantastic! It makes me feel like I can do anything!
What challenges have you faces? How do you keep going when things are tough?
Being a writer and facing challenges is horrible. Sometimes, there are moments when you just want to write but you can’t. One of the biggest challenges for me is finding the time to write. My schedule is full of school, sports, homework, clubs, early mornings, late nights, and it never ends. Pushing things away and trying to find time for writing is tough. Getting through the hard parts is never easy. I do my best to find times that work for me to write. Whether it’s two hours or ten minutes. I always carry around something like a pen, sticky notes, a notebook or my laptop. Even in my busiest times, I might have an idea hit me. If I’ve had a particularly busy day, I will write before I go to bed. I might work on an outline, on characters or actually write. Finding the time and facing challenges can be a nightmare, but scheduling it out is always a solution.
Tell us about your writing routine? Have you experimented much?
My writing routine is all over the place. I always do what comes naturally to me. If I feel like skipping outlining, characters, and just seeing where it goes, I will. Or if I feel like planning things out, giving my characters descriptions and going through the whole process, I will. I don’t really believe in having to prepare all that much before you start writing. It shouldn’t have to be this big thing that everyone has to follow in order to be a writer. Writing should be fun! Someone interested in writing should just go for it and do what makes them happy. I’m not saying planning doesn’t hurt, but you can always come back to it. When I get an idea, I immediately write it down. My nightstand is filled with sticky notes full of ideas. My best ideas come to me in the middle of the night; that’s where Before the End of Summer came from. Most of the time I’ll start coming up with what type of characters I want, giving them pre-names and then I hop on my laptop. If I only have a small amount of time to write I will quickly scribble what I want to write in a notebook with some plot points and any important things I want to introduce. I write when I can. Writing never feels like work to me. It’s what I love most and therefore it’s not something that I want to stress over. I always write in my room, at my desk. It’s peaceful and a place I know I can sit down and just write. I three main notebooks, all with specific jobs. One small notebook is filled with random words. I look through that if I get stuck and need something to trigger an idea. Another is filled with all my story’s plot point and character types. The last one has all my story ideas. I love keeping those close when I write.
When I experiment in my writing, it’s often with different genres and character types. I sometimes like writing in different places. Writing outside with the warm sun beating on me, or undercover listening to the rain pound against the ground. They’re both relaxing but I like being someplace quiet. In 2018 I think that I’d like to experiment some more, because that’s how I know I’ll become a stronger writer.
What one piece of practical advice would you give to other young writers?
A piece of advice that I’d give to another writer is that all your ideas are worth writing down. Even if it seems like the most illogical, silly, pointless or boring idea; write it down. You might write it down and not look at it for another five years but I promise that it has the possibility of blossoming into something amazing. It might take on a whole new meaning and become something completely different from when you first thought of it. All the ideas you write down will be waiting for you when you just want to practice writing or want to begin a long journey of a novel. All ideas have potential.
Peyton McDonald is a teen author from the United States. Before the End of Summer is her first published novel. Peyton writes to connect with others and gives them something they can relate to. She is currently working on her second novel.
Find Peyton at:
And Before The End Of Summer at:
Do you have a question, or just want to say hi? Chat with Peyton in the comments.
Tomorrow’s teen author is the lovely Joy Chappell, author of Farryn, with her thoughts, hints and tips on editing.