Having trouble pushing past emotional fatigue and brain fog to reach your writing goals? Yearning to craft vivid characters with emotional resonance? Seeking writing tips on plotting a series that still gives you the freedom to explore different storylines? We talk about it all and more with Maggie Stiefvater.
In our conversation, Maggie shares her love for storytelling and gives us a snapshot of her self-taught journey to becoming a best selling author. She chats about her love of music and how she weaves that in with her love of writing. We talk about the most difficult challenge Maggie’s had in her life and from that, we were inspired to discuss how to overcome brain fog and emotional fatigue to reach your writing goals. Further into our conversation, we chat about breaking down societal norms in her writing, how to craft vivid descriptions in your stories for emotional resonance, and how she plotted out her series that still gave her freedom to explore other storylines. She also shares the biggest piece of advice for debut writers that you don’t want to miss.
Be sure to check out the writing prompt that Maggie took the time to exclusive create for our community at the bottom of the page. Her writing prompt will help you if you’re stuck on the very first chapter of a new project.
Books and resources:
Paperback Writer by The Beatles
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
Mentioned in Angeline’s segment:
Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon
Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth
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Check out these highlights:
- How Maggie knew she always wanted to be a writer and tell stories (4:09)
- She shares her self-taught journey to becoming a #1 NYT Bestselling Author (10:48)
- How immersing yourself in the ugly phases of learning your craft can help you be a more innovative artist in the long run (13:48)
- How Maggie weaves together her love for music and writing (18:20)
- She shares the most difficult challenge she’s had in her life and how she’s worked to stay motivated to reach her writing goals (26:50)
- Tips on overcoming brain fog and emotional fatigue in your creative pursuits (34:35)
- How Maggie challenges societal norms around gender in her writing that helps her craft diverse sets of characters (40:12)
- And she answers some of our very own listener questions:
- What is the most extreme bit of research you have ever done? (43:55)
- Does she have any tips or techniques to share about crafting descriptions? (46:30)
- I’d love to know about the complexity of plotting a series as detailed as The Raven Cycle. Did you plot out the entire series before beginning or work one book at a time with a general idea as to the direction of the story? (48:50)
- I’m wondering, looking back at her career and all those books, what advice she would give to debut author Maggie? (50:36)
“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a storyteller.”
“One of the things that you have to learn about creating art is there’s a huge stage in art-making that’s the ugly stage. It’s where you’re doing your prep work, it’s moving all the big pieces into place and you’re starting to lay things down and this is when it’s awful for someone to walk in from the outside and look at your work and see it because it looks awful. A temptation can be to rush through this stage, to make it look prettier for the outside, but you actually have to live in that ugly stage. You need to do all of that prep work and if you try and rush to the pretty stage, you’re actually not going to be as pretty at the end.”
“I’m gonna live my life hugely and then I’m gonna write about it.”
“Instead of writing the strong female character, a phrase I despise because no one ever asks me how I write strong male characters, I try and write women being anything. They can be villains, they can be weak, they can be strong, they can be lairs, they can be gentle. Women can be anything.”
“Good writing comes from being able to move the emotional furniture around in a reader’s head without them knowing that your doing it.”
Say “Hi” to Maggie Stiefvater:
Learn more about Call Down the Hawk
The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.
And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.
Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.
Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .
Learn more about Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 NYT Bestselling author of The Raven Cycle, the Shiver trilogy, The Scorpio Races, and other novels for young people and adults. Her nonfiction writing can be found in automotive magazines such as Road & Track. She is also an artist and a multi-instrumentalist (most notably, the bagpipes). She lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley with her husband, her two children, and an assortment of fainting goats.