Writing advice from Marlon James

Marlon James, Jamaican writer, has published four novels. I have only read A Brief History of Seven Killings – a fictional account of the plot to murder Bob Marley – which won the Man Booker Prize in 2015. It is an immersive read, filled with dialect and alive with characters that will have you thinking about them for months and years afterward. The plot is pretty damn fantastic too.

His latest book – Black Leopard, Red Wolf – is the first in a fantasy trilogy he’s writing and is on my bookshelf waiting for me. He also has his own literary podcast with his editor – Marlon and Jake read Dead People. I’ve listened to James in quite a few other podcasts too, and after listening I’m left with is the sense that writing can be an intensely pleasurable task and that we shouldn’t all take ourselves so seriously. I always feel encouraged by that.

He was interviewed by LitHub in 2017, and offered a bunch of helpful pragmatic advice, including the following:

Writing is work for me. I just don’t have the luxury of waiting until the mood strikes. I don’t have the luxury of waiting until inspiration strikes. I also don’t believe that’s how ideas work. I think ideas hit you when you’re busy, when you are already in the process of discovering, or thinking, or creating, that’s what leads to creation.

Marlon James as interviewed by LitHub.

Hopefully this advice sparks your enthusiasm and you get writing too.