Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ninth House, the Six of Crows duology, and her upcoming novel The Familiar.
In this post, I've compiled some of my six favourite bits of advice she's given. You can find the sources beneath each quote and check out her interviews.
1. Set Realistic Goals
“Set realistic goals. Sometimes that means doing something like NaNoWriMo, or it means saying, “I’m just going to write 500 words a day, but I’m going to write 500 words a day.” Or “I’m going to do writing sprints for 30 minutes before work.” Or in the 45 minutes when my kid is napping, or whatever it is. Carve out a time, find a process that works for you and don’t compare yourself to anybody else.”
2. Make an Outline
Less advice, more her personal process. She says: “The outline for me is the map. [...] The way I like to think about it is I have the whole book on the page it just happens to be a one page book. And then I start going back and adding in scenes, or bits of dialogue."
You can use my free plot outline template if you want to make your own outline.
3. Know the Market
“You have to know the market. So you have to know what’s selling, what isn’t selling anymore, what people are fatigued by.“
4. Record Your Ideas
“I will pick up little ideas from there and I always just record them on my phone when I'm having the idea or something strikes me. And then periodically I will go into my audio files and I will transcribe those ideas.”
5. “You Can Work a Job & Still Write”
“Very few people have the wherewithal or the safety net to be able to pursue writing full-time from moment one. And I want people to understand that you can absolutely work a job, sometimes two jobs, and have those responsibilities—and still write. I didn’t fail to become a writer, and therefore had to take a job. I had to take a job to keep a roof over my head because I had student loans to pay off. And that’s the way it works.”
6. “The Best Stories Ask You Questions”
“So what the process of writing a book is not one of falling in love. It's one of staying in love. It is you fall in love with the original idea, but then that idea is not going to be enough to sustain you. We're going to need daily inspiration to keep the momentum about the story going and the best stories ask you questions, and they continue to ask you questions. And those questions should be exciting for you to answer. And there will be a lot of problem-solving that goes into the creation of a novel.”