Leigh Bardugo’s Writing Advice

When we met Leigh Bardugo at her Magic and Mayhem Book Tour for ‘Six Of Crows’, she answered a lot of questions about writing, the inspiration and the motivation behind it. Leigh gave some absolutely amazing pieces of advice. So, today, we thought we’d share what the best selling author of ‘Shadow and Bone‘ had to say about writing:

1. “There’s No Expiration Date On Your Talent”
This was the best thing she said. This is the best thing anyone has said.
Leigh talked a lot about how, when it comes to writing, it’s easy to put deadlines on yourself, and what you should be able to achieve at a certain age. There’s always the comment of ‘She’s doing so well for her age.” But, we should just scribble out the last half of that sentence. You’re always bright, you’re always talented, and there’s no limit to the amount of things you can achieve. Leigh said she didn’t start writing ‘Shadow and Bone’ until she was 35, and look where she is now. You don’t need to have a three-book publishing deal at 18. You can write whenever, without deadlines. 

2. “You Have To Love Them If You’re Going To Write Them”
Pretty easy, but if you don’t absolutely love the characters you’ve created and the world they’re living in, you’re not going to take the time to write them. It normally takes quite a while to write a book, (50K in a month is beautiful, but redrafting can take years!) So, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your characters. Make sure you won’t want to strangle them by the end of your manuscript.

3. “There’s No One Way To Write”
You do you, that’s perfectly fine. Apparently, one of the most popular questions authors get is to do with their writing process, but there’s something different for everybody. Leigh talked about how Laini Taylor loves to have every, tiny detail planned out before she writes, whereas she herself likes to have a looser idea of what’s going on.

4. “Go With The Muse”
When you’re feeling inspired: write. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a bargaining magic scene, if you feel the desire to write a kiss or a battle or a calm conversation over ice-cream, do it because inspiration doesn’t hit you everyday.

5. “Don’t Crush The Inner Critic”
When that little voice inside your head tells you something isn’t quite right, or that your writing is terrible (which I assure you, it isn’t!) listen to the voice. Agree with it. Qualify that this is only a first draft, and nothing is going to be perfect first time round! You can do anything, but you don’t need an enemy inside your head before you’ve even started.

6. “Nobody Writes A Good First Draft”
Normally, when you get stuck in the middle of writing, it’s easy to turn to all the beautiful books on your shelf and compare what’s on your Word document to what glued between those covers. That’s not fair. At all. What we see on the pages of our favourite novels is probably nowhere near what was written in the first draft. Everyone struggles, and everyone has setbacks. Comparing yourself to published works is only going to make you lose the fight before you’ve even picked up a sword.

7. “Write Terrible”
Sometimes, the only way to get a draft finished is to just write, no looking back. Leigh stressed that no one else has to see your first draft, that it’s 100% for you, so don’t be ashamed of what you think is sloppy or rushed or badly written. All that matters if you’re telling yourself the story first, before you try and tell it to other people. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see the first draft of ‘Shadow and Bone’?

8. “Finish Your Draft”
Every time I’ve heard this piece of advice, I’ve thought ‘that’s obvious!’, but somehow, I’m yet to do it. It’s not enough to say you want to write, you actually have to do it. Who knew?

And there you have it, tiny pearls of wisdom from Leigh Bardugo! Keep writing everyone, and good luck with your drafts!

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Reading Classics: Beginner’s Guide

Over the last couple of months, Bee and I have really been trying to widen our reading pattern, and experience some of the great literature out there that wasn’t published in this century. We’ve had to do some reading for school, of course, but we’ve also been doing a lot of reading for our book club and just in general. I am in no way an expert on these classics, but I thought I’d give a few tips if you’re interested in trying out something new (even though the books are old!)

1. Read small books. This may seem like a cop out, but it is the perfect way to widen your reading without committing yourself to 800 pages of Charles Dickens. You really feel enriched afterwards, even if it’s only taken you three hours to read! Try: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (who also wrote Treasure Island?!) or Animal Farm by George Orwell.

2. Read books that you know something about. Everyone is familiar with certain classic tales, even if it is the watered-down version presented in the media. Try: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or Dracula by Bram Stoker.

3. Read the books that have lots of adaptations. This can really help to bring a story to life with costumes, setting and lively dialogue! If you’re finding the content of the novel hard, as well, then an adaptation can really help to firm up your understanding of the text. Try: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

4. Don’t limit yourself to only the genre of novels. In order to really read widely, why not trying reading plays or poetry instead? This can be much quicker than reading a novel, but equally as enjoyable. Try: Any Shakespeare play (although I’d recommend the comedies!) or the poetry of the Romantic era, like John Keats. 

5. Finally, read classics with others. There’s nothing better to talk about than books, and to actually discuss the classic that you’ve chosen to read will further your understanding of the text to an even greater extent. Listening to what others think of the novel could possibly influence your opinion of it. Share recommendations and enthusiasm!

I hope this inspired you to go and try out classics, remember, they’re not as scary as they look!