Nicola Mar was seven years old when her first story was published. That was in her school yearbook, but she has since published four books (for real), along with the tons of poems and drawings she shares on her beautifully inspiring Instagram account. While she admits to the occasional bout of writer’s block, Nicola is one seriously productive creative.
Growing up in St. Maarten (where she lived until coming to the States for college), Nicola took a liking to literature at a very young age. “As long as I can remember, I always loved to read. I remember picking up a book when I was three years old, and from there I just naturally started writing. I can remember having all these stories in my head and wanting to write them down, so I started writing for fun around six or seven years old.”
Recognizing her passion, one of her teachers suggested that Nicola start showing her stories to others to get feedback. At that point, her first story was published in her elementary school yearbook. “Ever since then, I thought, Wow I can do this. Maybe I’m kind of good at it. And I’ve just been writing ever since. I honestly can’t imagine ever stopping.”
On how a tragedy inspired her poetry. “I took a poetry class in college, and I remember enjoying it, but I only really wrote it for school. But five years ago I had a traumatic life experience: My mom died tragically, and for some reason I just started writing poetry again.”
On dealing with writer’s block. “Every day I sit down and try to write something, even something small. Sometimes I get writer's block, and it takes a while and I have to meditate or go outside or try to find some inspiration. I meditate every day, almost religiously. And it’s helped me creatively so much that I honestly can’t even believe how big of an effect it has. It’s something that’s so easy to do and everyone can do it. If someone were to ask me, ‘What’s the thing I can do to start writing?’ I would say meditate. It’s a learned skill like anything else. Practice, practice, practice, and you’ll get it—it’ll come to you.”
On choosing favorites. “My favorite book is my first book. It’s called A Red Tale and it’s a fantasy novel about a young girl who discovers that she’s lived a past life. I guess it’s my favorite because I spent the longest time on it. It took me five years to write, and I just love the story. I hope I can create something like it, but it’s still my favorite.”
On finding inspiration in unlikely places. “I saw a mother on Dr. Phil who was being interviewed about her daughter who committed suicide. The story really touched me, so I started researching it and I found out that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people under the age of 20. I decided to write a book that was inspired by those stories to try to get teens to read it and understand what they’re going through, and how they can seek help. Then I found a charity called Project Semicolon, which deals with youth who are going through traumatic events, like suicide and depression. So I decided that I was going to donate some of the proceeds to that charity since it has to do with the same topics.”
On staying true to her work. “Everyone is going to have an opinion, and they’re always going to be different. Some people will tell you they hate the book, and some people will tell you they love it. So at the end of the day, I think if something doesn’t make you feel comfortable, you shouldn’t do it just because someone who you think has more experience, or who’s in the field, or is telling you you’re going to make money, you shouldn’t do it just for that.”
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