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This blog was featured on 10/09/2019
Leigh Bardugo On the [Real] Writer’s Life and Advice
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She Writes
11 days ago
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
11 days ago

Leigh Bardugo is the author of bestselling YA fantasy novels including the Shadow and Bone trilogy (soon to be a Netflix original show) and the Six of Crows duology among others.

This month she branches out into the adult world with the release of Ninth House, a fantasy tale of power, privilege, and dark magic set among the Ivy League elite – Yale’s storied secret societies. 

On Humble Beginnings

“I was not a good or creative writer,” Bardugo says of her childhood efforts. “I was the kind of kid writer who loved to describe the things people wore and the places they lived, and I didn’t start taking my characters on adventures until I started reading about characters going on adventures, when I really needed to believe my life would be something other than home and school and the mall.”

This excerpt was originally published in Locus Magazine. Read the full interview here.

On the Reality of a Writer’s Life

In spite of rough, young writerly beginnings, her writing did take off – but so did life, causing her writing to be put on the back burner as her attention shifted to family, finances and other responsibilities.

“The stories we hear the most about are people who sold a book in college, or sold a book in grad school, and not the people who worked a bunch of jobs, or who were taking care of dependents, or who were paying off student loans. I want to make sure people know there were multiple times when I was working, even before I started Shadow and Bone, where I thought, ‘This is never going to happen for me.’”

“I didn’t publish my first book until I was 37, so if anybody out there is reading this and thinking your chance has passed, there’s no expiration date on your talent.”

This excerpt was originally published in Locus Magazine. Read the full interview here.

Because of her road to success, filled with pit stops and many obstacles along the way, Bardugo voraciously cautions writers against believing the idea that you’re not a real writer if you are pursuing taking care of yourself and your life, as you pursue your art.

“Very few people have the wherewithal or the safety net to be able to pursue writing full-time from moment one,” she told Writer’s Digest. “And I want people to understand that you can absolutely work a job, sometimes two jobs, and have those responsibilities—and still write.”

On Changing Genres

Bardugo wasn't sure she wanted to leave YA behind, but Ninth House naturally pushed her into adult fiction.

“I think the violence feels more visceral, maybe because it’s more explicit, maybe because it’s set in our world. And I think my heroine’s goals are a little different. Alex isn’t working toward a single moment of revelation or revolution. She’s living with the terror of trying to build a life and a future.”

This excerpt was originally published in Publisher’s Weekly. Read the full interview here.

On Advice

Write terribly, Bardugo recommended in an interview with Heart Full of Books.

“Sometimes, the only way to get a draft finished is to just write, no looking back.”

Bardugo 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.

Set realistic goals, Bardugo also urges.

“Sometimes that means doing something like NaNoWriMo, or it means saying, ‘I’m going to do writing sprints for 30 minutes before work.’ Carve out a time, find a process that works for you and don’t compare yourself to anybody else.”

“Remember: There is no expiration date on your talent. You have a story to tell, it doesn’t matter when you tell it. Just get it onto the page and let go of any of the ideas that somehow it’s less worthwhile because it took you a little longer to get there than it took others.”

This excerpt was originally published on Writer’s Digest. Read the full interview here.

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Comments
  • Raine Fraser Revising

    I'm also a fan of "There is no expiration date on your talent." As someone who "started late" (even though I've been writing one way or another since I learned the alphabet) that one had a lot of comforting resonance.

  • Love your quote "“Sometimes, the only way to get a draft finished is to just write, no looking back.”