Guest Author Sarah J. Maas: Just Show Up and Write
So, as I’m writing this post, I’ve got just about a week until A Court of Thorns and Roses publishes. And the morning after my launch party to celebrate its release, I’ll be hopping on a plane to kick of my U.S. tour for the book—then heading off to the U.K. for another tour there, before returning to America for a final few events. Basically, I will be on the road for the entire month of May — getting to do what I’ve dreamed about doing my entire life: be a published author.
Real talk: I didn’t really think any of this would happen to me. It still blows my mind that I get to be a full-time author and tour the world, meeting my incredible, passionate readers.
I get asked this question a great deal, so I figured I’d answer it once and for all: What is your writing process like?
Honestly… “LOL” is the first answer that springs to mind. I think my writing process changes for each book. I’m a fast writer, capable of punching out massive word counts every day, but I still have no average length that it takes to draft a novel. And revising that novel? LOL again. Revising is… the worst.
But, in thinking a bit more seriously about this question… I do have a process. I’ve been writing since I was twelve, working on the Throne of Glass series with relentless, near-insane focus since I was sixteen, and all I have ever wanted to do with my life was to be a published author. Writing has always been my joy and sanctuary — but I’ve also always, always treated it as a job.
Not in the soul-sucking sense, but in the sense that every day, without fail, I will sit at my desk and work. Whether that work is actually writing, or just daydreaming, or calling up my CPs to chat with them about story ideas, I don’t care — but I still make a point to show up every day.
Truth be told, I am a deeply, profoundly lazy person. If given my way, I will live in yoga pants, not shower for days, and never set foot outside the house because Ugh, Sunshine. But writing is — and has been — the only thing that I take very, very seriously, and the one thing that I work very, very hard at.
Confession time: I’m a workaholic. I get anxious when I’m not working on stuff. Which is why I decided to publish this little book I’d written wayyyy back in 2009 called A Court of Thorns and Roses; why I had this insane idea to have not one, but two series out at the same time, both with books that are long as hell.
(Perhaps I’m so disgustingly lazy in every other regard because I devote so much time/energy into writing. Perhaps I just enjoy lying on the couch, tossing cheese-puffs into my mouth while I binge-watch Black Sails.)
A Court of Thorns and Roses was actually a Magic Book for me. I wrote it in about five weeks, while waiting to see if Throne of Glass would ever sell to a publisher (spoiler: it did.). I woke up every morning excited to write, and then wrote all day, all night, the story unfolding bit by bit, as if the characters and plot had always existed. No book since then has ever been as easy to write. (Seriously.)
And though I wrote ACOTAR really damn fast, the process, actually was the same for every other book I write: wake up, eat the same damn breakfast (glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, one cup of English Breakfast tea, 3 pieces of turkey bacon washed down with a glass of ice water), and finish my second cup of tea (formerly coffee) at my desk. Then I write, and write, and write.
It’s that simple. Some days are better than others; some days every word is painful and I want to throw my computer into the street. Some days I just reread what I’ve written and either strut around the house, bloated on my own genius, or start quietly, thoroughly panicking that every word blows and I’m a hack-loser. But I still eat my breakfast, drink my tea/OJ/water, and show up.
There’s no magic to it. No special formula. There is no one process to creating my books beyond that: showing up. Holding myself accountable. Because I love writing, and because I owe it to myself, to my readers, to push myself every day to be better than my last book, to write the best damn books I can possibly write.
Susan Dennard (aka my best friend/CP/greatest person alive) has talked in detail about the importance of routine with creative people. (I think that’s where my weird morning routine comes from.) She’s way more eloquent than I am about the subject, but I will say this: everyone’s writing process is different. What works for me might not work for you. And the page-by-page creation of my books changes every time I sit down to tell a new story. But that’s the key — sitting down (or standing, or walking. I hear they have desks for those things now) to write. Showing up.
I have shown up at this job every day since I was sixteen. I have shown up at this job even when people in my life told me this dream was unrealistic, that writing fantasy wasn’t worth my time, that romance was silly, that I would never be published. I have shown up despite those people, I have shown up to prove them wrong, I have shown up because I love writing with my entire heart and soul and no one — absolutely no one — can ever take that away from me, no matter what happens.
So that is my process.
Show up. Write. Repeat.