The popular and prolific children’s author, Jacqueline Wilson was born in 1945. She has sold over ten million books, which have been translated into over thirty languages.
She is the author of the highly successful Tracey Beaker series which has also been adapted for television. Other works include The Suitcase Kid (1992), The Illustrated Mum (1999), Lizzy Zipmouth (2000), Kiss (2007) and Four Children and It (2012).
Jacqueline has won many awards including the Smarties Prize and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. In June 2002, she was given an OBE for services to literacy in schools and from 2005 to 2007 she served as the fourth Children’s Laureate. In the 2008 New Year Honours, Wilson was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).
In 2007 she was interviewed by the Guardian for their Writers’ Rooms series.
Children are always asking me if I have a special place to write. Well, yes, I have a lovely study – but if I’m honest, most of my writing gets done in other places. I might scribble a few lines in my notebook when I wake up, or scrawl a page while I’m having breakfast. I frequently take my notebook out with me. The train journey from Kingston to London takes exactly half an hour. If pI concentrate really hard, I can manage 500 words by the time the train draws into Waterloo.
Because I’m not necessarily working in my study every day, I always enjoy the times I’m there. The desk used to belong to my daughter, Emma. There are still little drawings she did as a child hidden away in the drawers. I like to have a few special things on my desk as well as my laptop. It’s the only computer I’ve ever owned and I’m still not totally sure how to use it. I write all my first drafts in gorgeous Italian leather notebooks.
She was interviewed again by the Guardian in 2016 for their My Writing Day series.
I once wrote in a Lett’s School-Girl’s Diary “It would be so wonderful to be a proper writer when I’m grown up. Imagine what bliss it would be to stay at home all day and just write!” Well, I’m a writer now, proper or improper, but sadly I don’t often get to stay at home all day and write. I meet journalists, I go to endless meetings, I do charity work, I talk at festivals, I take part in conferences, I lecture at universities, I visit ill children, I open libraries, I talk on panels, I give interviews on radio and television, and I judge all kinds of competitions. It’s all very interesting and enjoyable, if a bit nerve-racking at times, but it’s ultra time-consuming. It’s difficult managing to produce two full-length books each year. I cope by writing early every morning – even Christmas morning.
I don’t get up that early. I feel exhausted simply thinking about a writer like Anthony Trollope, starting to write at 5.30 am every day, completing 3,000 words in three hours before marching off to do a full day’s work at the Post Office. I don’t even set my alarm, but my cat and my dog are very good at waking me up. I sort them out, make a cup of coffee, go back to bed, prop myself on my pillows and start typing on my laptop.
I don’t reread yesterday’s work, I just get stuck into the story straight away. The first couple of sentences are a struggle. I’m still tense when I’ve done a paragraph. But then somehow my imagination takes over and I’m in a different world. I become my main character, scarcely aware that my own fingers are tapping away as I experience everything through her
If I’ve got a lot on during the day I let myself off after a mere 500 words, roughly half an hour’s work. If I’ve got time or there’s a deadline looming I write for an hour and am happy with a thousand words. It’s a very modest amount. When I was in my 20s I’d then go on to write at least another couple of thousand words of a magazine story, simply to pay the bills. (They paid by the word in those long-ago days, so my stories were always very long.) However, come to think of it, I probably write that much answering emails and letters in the evenings nowadays, before the magic time when I relax with a good box set and a glass of wine.
I might not write much during the day, but I’m always thinking about my current book while walking the dog, sitting on trains, trailing round shops, and waiting to perform. I always go to sleep thinking about my characters – and they’re there in my head when I wake up, ready to write again.
And here is a Youtube clip in which Jacqueline talks more about her routine.