“Allow yourself to write badly in the beginning. That’s good tried and true advice. And then let it evolve as you rewrite.”
“My original ambition was to be an Egyptologist.”
“The writer has a built-in editor, and you have to ignore that editor while you’re first generating the writing.”
“When I don’t write, I become a miserable and awful, depressive, semi-alcoholic nightmare of my worst self.”
Competitiveness and striving and self-commodification or envy will ruin your writing.
“Craft is work.”
“What is most important is psychological or soul understanding of characters. I’m not very concerned with what they look like so much as I am concerned with who they are on the deepest level.”
Chainani is the author of a New York Times bestselling young adult novel, The School for Good and Evil, which is the first in a trilogy and is being turned into a movie by Universal Pictures. We talked about his topsy-turvy path to novel writing and Hollywood.
“Revision is where the magic happens. I try to get through a first draft quickly (though not quick enough), so I can massage it and make it work.”
The National Book Award winner talks writing, inspiration and overcoming failure.