Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Tomi Adeyemi: The Writing Life and Her New Writing Course.

Episode Summary

With her book "Children of Blood and Bone" spending 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, Tomi Adeyemi knows what it takes to write a great book. Listen in on my conversation with this charming writer about her thoughts on the writing life and what she has to offer in her new masterclass, The Writer's Roadmap.

Episode Notes

With her book "Children of Blood and Bone" spending 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, Tomi Adeyemi knows what it takes to write a great book. Listen in on my conversation with this charming writer about her thoughts on the writing life and what she has to offer in her new masterclass, The Writer's Roadmap.

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Episode Transcription

Mignon: Grammar Girl here, I'm Mignon Fogarty. And you can think of me as your friendly guide to the English language. We talk about writing, history, rules, and cool stuff. And today we're going to talk about writing and cool stuff because I have Tomi Adeyemi with me here today. She is a novelist and writing coach. She was named Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2020, and like Grammar Girl, her website has been named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer's Digest. Tomi graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in English literature (fellow English majors, unite! Go English majors) and after graduating, she got a fellowship to study West African mythology, religion, and culture in Brazil, which is where she got the inspiration for her mega-bestselling young adult fantasy book, "Children of Blood and Bone," the first and what is now a series. It also won just a slew of awards, and now she teaches a very cool writing course that maybe some of you could take, which we will definitely talk about a little later, but first, welcome, Tomi.

Tomi: Thank you so much for having me.

Mignon: Oh, I'm so excited to have you here today. I loved your book, um, your books and, I know we're waiting for the third and ...

Tomi: Yes, I'm writing the third. So don't you won't be waiting long. I am literally like in the midst of the deadline that starts knocking all the dominoes down for release. So, we are getting closer. We are getting ... that's what was behind me when you could see the video, ... is literally all of book three, so

Mignon: Nice.

Tomi: We're getting there. We're getting close.

Tomi: I know a lot of people are going to be happy to hear that. So, you know, I was thinking about you and your writing journey and, you know, your first book, it was this huge success. And I know a lot of people, you know, to them that often looks like it was quick or an overnight thing. And I know that you put a lot of work in, so I'd love it if you could share some of the reality of sort of how you got to where you are today,

Tomi: You know, what's amazing? I know that in the beginning of this, you're like, okay, you're probably were, you know, some questions you might have answered before or this, but I'm in such a new stage as a writer that my answer for you is actually completely different from anything I've ever said.

Mignon: Huh?

Tomi: I am in such an insane writing flow right now where it's literally, I feel like a street fighter, like.

Mignon: Wow.

Tomi: Like whatever the version is of. Okay. Yeah. You just picture me with like the Rocky, maybe that's his Rambo bandana, but just picture, I feel like Sylvester Stallone. like I'm writing so hard and so fast. And it goes from like the finishing a draft to book three to like, okay, now we're gonna punch through three more drafts of movie one. And, and then there's this other thing you guys don't know about yet.

Tomi: And we have all these other things. So I'm literally like, Ugh, I feel so ... I feel so Rocky about my writing, and I was trying to analyze I'm like, where is that coming from? I knew in, in one way it was coming from last year. I was struggling to write last year. Like I was struggling to write 150 words in a day, and now I'm averaging like 7,000 words a day and being like, oh, why didn't I get to 10,000? So in one sense, there was a very, like, since I had to literally forge this Rocky writer out of my soul, there's that pride. But I was also feeling that like ease of, oh my gosh, I think you've hit, like, if it's not 10,000 hours, maybe 15,000 hours. And so I was like, okay, if you're at 15,000 hours, where do you think you were when you put, like, got the book deal for "Children of Blood and Bone"?

Tomi: Because I have done so much more writing than ever before and all of it quickly and all of it, it's like intense and it's like, my brain hurts, but I'm also like, it kind of feels good to have my brain be, "Oh, you did a lot of pushups today in the writing gym." Ugh. I'm really, I don't know if it's Taurus energy. I'm very much like, like a gym right now, but you know what? I think it was like Murakami who said the gym and writing are very connected. He's like, if you can run a marathon, then you can write. And so it's physical activity and being in this writing state are very, they're two sides of the same coin. They require the same discipline and the same focus. One is for your body. One is through your body, and then one is through your mind.

Tomi: But all of this is to say, I feel like I'm at 15,000 hours right now of just all the time, all the time I've spent writing in my entire life. And that means, I think I was about at 5,000 hours when I published "Children of Blood and Bone." And this is going off of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour theory that it's like, "Oh, once you hit 10,000 hours of something, you become a master in it." And so I am feeling this mastery, but it's not like, I don't feel like the master at all. Um, I have so much to learn though. I have so much to learn. I have so much to do. I have so much to write, but for the first, maybe for the second time in my life, this time, it feels, I felt this sort of, uh, euphoric writing.

Tomi: You know, I felt it once before, but it was more like a burst of passion. What I love about the writing I'm feeling now is it feels like it's under my control. It's like, because I exercise the discipline, because I push and I can always refine too. So I'm, even last night, I found myself doing something that Quentin Tarantino described that he does, that he's found in his writing process where it's basically like, he writes for five, six hours a day. And then I think he says, he's like, "And then I'm in my heated pool." And on the ... I don't know what it was, but I was like, that sounds nice. Uh, but I was like, I was just in the shower, and I was okay. And I was just sitting there and I was thinking, and I was like, Hmm, well, okay.

Tomi: If we analyze what we wrote today, and it's here, here, here, okay. Then we could add this to this and this, to this. And then let's look at what we have to do tomorrow. Then we can partition out the scenes and like, it just became this like, like this, I laid the roadmap for the next day, for the first time in my writing career. And then today I got up, and I wrote a killer scene, and I have to do more writing after this. But you know, I'm like, okay, how do you switch from being talkative to then getting back in that zone? Cuz you're on deadline. So for me it's like, there's when you say like how much work goes into it. It used to be just the story, which actually is a very great story of like, oh, you know, I spent six months or I spent like four years on a book and it went nowhere.

Tomi: And then I doubled down, and I believed in myself, and I spent six months, and then "Children of Blood and..." and I'm like, that's a nice mighty. But I think it's actually the most encouraging thing a writer I admired could tell me, is that like, yo, just put in your hours. Just put in your hours. Because when you're daydreaming, now mind you, the more hours you put into actually writing the, um, because you know, you can be daydreaming, you can be visualizing your story, you can be outlining those stories. And that, that acts like the warmup for your workout. If that makes sense. Like it is a lot of work, and I spend a lot of time in those stages, and I love those stages, but there's a difference between, okay, it's like I outlined the whole book today, and it's like my head and my ha ... well, you don't want your hands to hurt, but it's like, no, I pushed forward on this book today.

Tomi: I made it reality. I think the making going from your head through your hand to the page, like having to look at really unpoetic language and things that feel clunky like it, you can tell the difference in my voice from the like the, I get excited talking about the discipline of writing the actual workout. It's like telling me to do a pushup. It's like, why, why, why I was happy before? And now you asked me to do something that leads to despair. Um, so writing, it feels like going to the gym, but when you've been going to the gym for like six months and you're like, whoa, look at this. And you're like, look at this handstand. I'm um, that's how I'm feeling from a writing standpoint. And I am loving that. So I would say it's not an overnight thing. The good news is it's an hourly thing, and there you and I have the same exact hours right now.

Tomi: You know, it's like, I don't care if you you're in sixth grade. I don't care if you're or 60, like we both have the same hours. And so if you just push you just literally take some of your hours. Even if you're like, I'm gonna take 15 minutes every day that adds up, you know, all of that stuff adds up. So it's, that's, that's the answer to the question, I guess it's take the hours is because I would, I can, I am now able to lay out my writing successes and my writing breakthroughs through, through the work and the discipline. Like if we had black belts or something, it feels like karate, but I'm like, no, I have my black belt now, but you can go like, so super black belt and then you can go like jumper super, I don't know, karate belts, but I'm like, okay, well now let's get like a platinum belt, you know? Like, let's change it up. Let's see what that looks like. Let's okay. How can, what, let's move into a new genre. Let's see what that's like, how can we, how can we push? So, so yeah, I'm, it's much more fun.

Mignon: Well, it sounds like, listening to you talk about it, it sounds like you have a very structured writing process. I know, you know, some people fly by the seat of their pants, and other people have outlines, and it sounds to me like your process is really structured. Is that true? And has it always been that way for you?

Tomi: The other shift in my writing career is when I switched to structure. When I embrace ... whenever I embrace structure both for the actual, like laying out of the story and then also for my life and the way I approach, like actually knocking out those words in the story, I experience tremendous, tremendous speed, efficiency, flow. Um, I will say a lot of this discipline is also because I don't have a choice.

Tomi: It's like I owe people the last book in the trilogy. I want the movie to start, which means I have to write the movie quickly (that doesn't mean not masterfully). It means I just need to master it quickly. Um, and that only comes from writing draft after draft, after draft, after draft, like "Children of Blood and Bone" was 40 drafts. Oh my God. I don't even really know what the story like. I know what the story is because I literally just adapted it. But I, I know this story more because I just adapted it than because I wrote it because there are 40 versions of it in my head. As I excelled as a writer, I'm able to get to where I want it to be with less versions, more, both, because I'm able to write better on the first draft.

Tomi: If my writing muscles are strong, that they are right now also I'm able to have more of my best ideas faster. I'm able to pick out fluff on the outline stage more like for the other two books, I always ended up cutting like 200 pages because I'll make the outline. I'll write the outline. I don't, I'm better at having like a bird's eye view and being like, "Hmm, we actually don't need this scene." Because it doesn't push us forward. And the other amazing thing about going from like book writing from young adult fantasy writing to like adult writing, non-fantasy writing to like script writing to animated like television show writing is you pick up a different lesson, um, because every medium is different. You take in the same tool belt, but every medium requires something new. And so it's again, I'm in a very, I'm tired. I'll say that I'm tired. I'm really tired.

Tomi: I have written last week, I was like, wow, I've written 720 pages this year. Now. I think it's like, it's almost at 820, like I am tired. Um, but on the flip side of that, I'm like, whoa, this is like ninja training for a writer and it's crazy. And that's cool that jazzes me up because I I'm also inspired. So, and I love that. Especially having that period where I didn't feel inspiration. I hated that. So to be kind of flooded with it both because you're forced to just keep going cuz you have all these deadlines, but also because you're like you're getting tougher and stronger and better in the process. Like it's, it's very satisfying.

Mignon: Yeah. Yeah. So you mentioned deadlines and we had to reschedule the interview because I know you were up against a big deadline and I re

Tomi: I, thank you.

Mignon: No, no, I respected that so much.

Tomi: Thank you.

Mignon: It's something I'm not very good at. And I was like, "Man, she's carving out time for her writing. That's what we're supposed to do." You know? And I wondered if you had any advice just because ... is that something you were always able to do or is it something you've learned how to do? And you know, you're saying we have to put in the hours, well, how do we protect those hours? How do you do it? Because you're probably busier than most of us at this point.

Tomi: I appreciate you saying that so much. And it's like, my Hufflepuff just came out like so hard. Okay. Because even when you said that I'm part because I have so much to do and I'm crazy. Like I've lived very much second to second, but then when I have memories of like, oh yes, we did have to push this so many times, and I did not feel good about it. But it's also something else I've really come into this year is acknowledging the weight that is on my shoulder. On my shoulders, I would say another lesson from last year when I could only write like 150 words, like my health tanked. It had gotten to that point because I had worked myself so hard for so long. Um, and I never took a break. I had like one week off between turning in draft 40 of "Children of Blood and Bone" and starting draft one of "Children of Virtue."

Tomi: And you know, it's like, I've been on cut throat deadlines for the last ... since 2016. So I wasn't, I'll say this, I guess it's because I saw, I have lived through the horrible effects of not taking care of myself, of not acknowledging that, oh, guess what? I'm exhausted. Like I just, because I have a lot of energy, I have an insane amount of ... but then sometimes I'm hit with a thing of exhaustion and I'm like, "Hmm, I know you have a right to be exhausted." And I now know that I can't push through my exhaustion. That exhaustion is not meant to be pushed through. It is meant to be experienced. Um, and you need to recuperate from it. Like I am very intentional about my rest now. I am very intentional about recuperation because I have to, or I'm not gonna be able to do the thing I want to do.

Tomi: So when it comes to anything in my schedule, even like my TV agent called me yesterday about something I'm really excited about, but I was like, "Mmm I'm on deadline. And I can't talk to you about this right now." And, and he's wonderful. He's like, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I didn't know." But that was, for me, it was like, uh, I have to, I can't think about something else. Like I'm I am in Orisha right now. Mm-hmm, so I actually can't even, and sometimes it's funny though, I do have a lot of ideas about other things while I'm writing and that's something ... I have a lot of ideas in lots of different places, but I'm very intentional with like, "Ah, I actually can't handle the phone call. Uh, I actually can't do this. I have to do this. Uh, oh my God, this thing just happened. Uh, oh my God, hacker peed everywhere." it's just like you.

Mignon: So when you get other distracting ideas like that, do you ... how, how do you manage them? Do you write them down? So they get out of your brain and on, on the screen or on paper? Or how do you, how you capture them without letting them distract you?

Tomi: Oh, I shoot them out. Always, always. Cause it's you don't know when, when something brilliant is going to strike and you don't know if it's going to be a scene for something else, if it's gonna be a character, if it's gonna be something for fashion, if it's like, oh my God, we need to make more merchandise. Um, it's like, oh my God, we we're entering the space race. Now we're going to Mars. And this is how we are doing it. And our spaceship is gonna be like pink. You know?

Tomi: Like you don't, you don't know like you can't control your mind. Um, all you can do is collect its little diamonds. And so I throw them all out because I I'm like we, I am so excited about everything that's happening now. And, but there's something else that's happening. Like I've fallen in love with a new story and I'm like, you know, so it's like, I'm always in love with I'm in love with ah, is it everything ah, I, I think so. , I think I'm in love with everything. Um, and I, I love that. And so there's, I'm just very fortunate, you know what? I'm fortunate and I've also worked very hard. Yes, amen. I am fortunate and I've also worked very hard to carve out arenas and lanes professionally where I could play with all of like the Crayola crayons in my soul, you know, like I want all the colors mm-hmm I wanna, I wanna I'm the kid that grabs a fistful two fistfuls and like let's run across the walls. like, that's how much I wanna color with what's in my soul. And I don't just wanna color in this trilogy. I don't just wanna color in it's like, I wanna everywhere. There's a whole world out there. There's just white walls everywhere waiting for a pack of Crayola crayons to be unleashed. And so I just let them all flow. And you know what though?

Mignon: What?

Tomi: Hearing this ... it's I think the, what I'm feeling is that creativity is a flow. Like creativity is a river. And so if you get that river running, it runs in every direction. It doesn't just run for what you're working on. It does. It's like you see, you see a beautiful flower. You see a funny, you see a funny meme and it's like, it's all creativity. So I am, when I am in a beautiful flow like this, I guess that's the, so on the, like the discipline side, the it's more of my Earth Bender, the Rocky side, like yeah, I'm in the studio. I'm, I'm cutting it up on the, on the water bending side. You're like creativity is flowing through me and it feels amazing. And so to block creativity for another thing is to block creativity for whatever I'm on deadline for, mm-hmm.

Tomi: And so I don't do that. Um, I also respond to my creativity now, like I thought I was gonna be writing certain things at the same time, and then I know I'm in a flow, so I need to write this thing and then I'm gonna write this thing and then I'll flow back to this thing and okay. So I'm ... it takes discipline to push forward on what you need to push forward on. But creativity, I think it should get it to flow, get it to flow. Because we all know when we feel our creativity flowing, and we know when we feel a drought. And so when you have a flow, it's like protect the flow. Mm-hmm, that's a funny phrase, but protect the flow. it feels very like Yoda: protect the flow

Mignon: So, so my, you know, my listeners obviously love language so much and, you know, I would love to hear you talk about the language aspect of your novels. You know? Do you intentionally use language in different ways to form your characters or are there language tools that you really love to use or things that you struggle with? Just like, how does, how does language play a role in, in your writing and your creative process?

Tomi: Uh, I love language. Mm-hmm, you know why I love podcasts and you know why I love talking with people who love writing and story and language as much as me?

Mignon: Why?

Tomi: You get it. Yeah. You get it. People are always surprised in my life when they say something, and I'm like, "That was a beautiful sentence." And they're like, whoa, but I'm like, no, it's like flowers to my ears. You know, I just love language in all of its forms. It's, it's oh yeah. , you know, you're like, I was just ... some people like cars, some people like words. Um, and I love words. And the older I get, the more you realize like, oh my gosh, language is so much more than beautiful prose. It is literally like, it, it knits us together as society, you know, like we, you, not to get philosophical, but it's like, you are here.

Tomi: I am here. We have assigned meaning to the same words so we can communicate, you know, like you start feeling almost Jane Goodall with it when you're like, this is magical. The fact that we even have words. And I know for writers, I think another reason, the 5,000 hours, 10,000 hours, 15,000 hours thing is so important. Um, something we stress in, like, I teach a writing masterclass online, and something we stress when we do our community Zooms is like, it's actually, when I was on the other side of, of this, I guess this life when I was so desperate to be able to be able to write for 10 hours a day, because that's the funny thing. It's like, it's, it's very hard work, but that's the dream. I have to do something from like nine to five. So the dream is that the thing I'm doing from nine to five is the thing that I love the most, you know, it's like we have to make a living.

Tomi: We have to provide for ourselves. I, when I was giving everything for this dream, it's like, I gave myself two years, two years of going at it like full time. Um, and that might be like, okay, I'm gonna work part time and do this and this and this. But it's like, I budgeted, I made my Excel sheet. Like I, I was like, I'm making this dive. I wanna try. I just wanna try my hardest if I try my hardest and it doesn't work out, I can actually live with that. But if I'm not trying my hardest, I don't wanna sort of like inch for it while carrying on these other full careers when I know where I ultimately want to be. Um, and that's when I thought it was like a giant, giant risk or giant giant thing. And this was the only way I could make a living and hope to pay like a mortgage one day.

Tomi: Now I'm on this side of it. It, creativity is a skill writing is a skill like everyone, I always say everyone in their grandma has a streamer. They have like their own personal streaming service. They'll be like, oh, like it's grandma's streamer. And I'm streaming these movies from these content creators. I'm like, we are needed. You saw what stock went up during quarantine, mm-hmm, it was Netflix. It was, I think, Disney like entertainment or maybe, okay. I don't know stocks , but I do know enough, like Netflix's stock went up because when we had nothing, what did we have entertainment? I learned just saw an interview, this, uh, the celebrity she's like, I watch a Harry Potter movie every day. You know, it's like, we, we devalue what an industry this is. And then we don't see ourselves as literally like, oh my God, we're the creators of this industry.

Tomi: Like the oil comes from our heads in our hands and our soul. And so what I like about the five thousand ten thousand fifteen thousand hour thing is what I always emphasize to my writers is don't be so hyper focused on what you're writing right now. All you need to do is become a better writer with every book, because then one of the books is going to be it. And then you get to also monetize your, your skills as a writer for things you never could have imagined. You know, someone might want you to write a commercial. Someone might want you to adapt a podcast to a television show. Someone might want you to take a game and like, turn it into a TV show for eight year olds. Like people need the skill that we have and they'll pay you. They'll pay you a good living for it.

Tomi: You, you know, like you can have, you can have a dog, you know? So it's, I think we as writers, we never hear a meth. Uh, it's always treated like some weird like Peter pan pipe dream, as opposed to, like, if I said, I wanna be a dentist, it's like, there's a, okay. The there's a, there's a way to do that. Um, so if you wanna be a writer, there's a way to do that. Um, there's actually multiple ways to do that. And if you wanna make a living as a writer, I'm surprised every day at all, the ways that there are to do that, you know, so it's work on your craft, become an excellent writer. And then you get to go to work. It's actually the same as becoming a dentist. Obviously they're different, but it's like, let's compare the hours.

Tomi: Mm-hmm, I think that would be so interesting to compare the hour estimates of like, like a Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Tahereh Mafi, a Marie Lu to compare like, okay, how many hours, uh, Nicola Yoon,, how many hours in your life have you spent writing? And then go to your dentist? And it's like, how many hours? And you're like, have you spent dentisting? You'll probably find they're closer than you think. And so I just really like my writers to, to look at themselves as writers. I'm like, don't look at yourself. I think I was so focused on being an author before, and now I'm so focused on being a writer because a writer or a storyteller, you can tell stories in any medium imaginable. Like you're only limited by your imagination,

Mignon: Right? No, it's absolutely true.

Tomi: And that's the exciting part.

Mignon: There's so many ways to make money as a writer and, and people don't think about that. It's, you know, um, yeah. You know, I mean, my parents were like, you're going to major in English? You know? I saw that you were an English major, and I said, "English majors unite." And it, it, you know, I, you know, that we, we aren't always supported in the end

Tomi: And I was like scared to be an English major, you know? So it's like, I'm I had a big dream. I just, I was like, it always seemed like a crazy pipe dream, and maybe it is, and I'm just used to the insanity, because I've been on deadline for six years, but I also like had a goal and a plan and put in a lot of work. And so I, the more I look back on it, the more I see, like, yes, I have been blessed. I have been blessed. Mm-hmm. I have been blessed another amen.

Tomi: So I have worked hard and I have worked hard and I have worked hard and now the blessing is getting to work harder, right? Yeah. That's that's it like I get to work harder at my craft because I don't, I've established myself where I wanna be established. Now I get to build, now I get to go faster. Um, now I get to create more. I I'm like there's so many things, there are so many amazing things that are, that are in the pipeline that are coming out. It's it's very exciting.

Mignon: And that's a great transition into talking about your course, The Writer's Roadmap, because you know, when I saw this, I thought that's amazing that she's teaching this course, but it's also, I know it's a lot of work to, you know, run a masterclass type course like that. And I know you wanna help people and help writers, but I'm wondering what made you take the leap and actually create this whole other sort of side of your professional life.

Tomi: Yeah, it's so interesting. Thinking back, I originally it started like my last year of college. Um, um, I had stumbled. I was on Pinterest a lot. I'm actually always on Pinterest a lot, but I was on Pinterest a lot. And what I was looking more then was okay. Blog posts on like publishing and how to get published. And um, it's, it's very by chance I saw that having a blog, having an online presence of some sort could help you get published. What I didn't know is that that's for non-fiction publishing. Mm-hmm, so starting a blog for me was not at all helpful for "Children of Blood and Bone." And I learned that relatively quickly, but by that point I'd already set up the website. It was And I was like, huh, that's cool. I have a website. Um, and I really like, I just like the blogging process, because at that point I was working on the first book that I ever tried to get published.

Tomi: So I was in maybe towards the end of year three of a four-year process for a book that got 60 rejections. Um, so that was a long, slow process. I was really, really learning how to like, it would've been a fight. It took me a year to finish the first draft. It took me a year to finish the second draft. And then in the third year, I started learning how to revise like much better. So then I was like, okay, I got about 19 passes in that third year. And I was like, okay, I wanna like better my chances for this, I'll start this writing blog. And then I wrote like a blog post on like "three ways to make a character arc" or like "three ways to defeat writers block. "And I actually liked designing the graphics for it. I liked uploading it.

Tomi: I liked giving my website a little ... I liked design, I guess. And I didn't realize I liked design, but I, I enjoyed the process, and I felt satisfaction from it. I also felt it was cementing the things I was learning that I didn't realize I was learning. Um, like while I was in the field actually trying to like make the story happen. And then when I started getting comments, and when people are like, "Oh, this was really helpful." I was like, "Oh, well, okay." So I just kept the writing blog going. And I had done a couple different, like this is all before "Children of Blood and Bone" was published. I had done a couple different like online master classes. And then in the year, I don't know, maybe since 2018 had been planning to do like a bigger, like more official launch, a more official like, okay, this is my class.

Tomi: This is high quality. This matches where I am now. Because I had all these blog posts from like the last year of college and the, the first year out of college. And I'm like, okay, I wanna put together a better, more cohesive project. Um, and then the pandemic struck, and we had quarantine, and it was March, 2020 and Chloe, my other teammate we asked and we, we were like, let's do it. Let's take this month. And like actually try and launch. We're all stuck at home. And it was a monster project. Like we were working so hard, but there was also peace in the work, mm-hmm, you know, when you don't know what's gonna happen, you can either be on TikTok or you can start a new business mm-hmm and distract yourself. I guess I did both. So it's it was and Harry Potter, that was literally March. It was like, we launched this master class in April. It was our first generation. Um, I re-watched the Harry Potter movies and then yeah, I had my first little TikTok. Yeah.

Mignon: So, so when, when people, when people take your master class, when they sign up for your course, what, what sort of the main goal, what, what are, what should they expect to get out of it?

Tomi: The main goal is to have a comprehensive understanding of story and have the tools and abilities to actually go from the story idea you have in your head to a finished first draft. Um, in my earlier iterations of this class, it was, it was like, okay, we're gonna focus on plot. This is like our plotting bootcamp. Um, okay. We're we're gonna write your first draft. This is we're finishing your first draft. This is to finish your first up, you know, like it was, it was always crappy little thing. Um, but my favorite thing about the course is it grows with me. Um, and so similar to how I answer a question, uh, like how do you get here is different from how I answered it like two or three years ago, because I have more perspective on where here is and how I got there.

Tomi: It's the same for the students. It's like when I was struggling to write, I was very open with them. I was like, I'm struggling to get 150 words right now. And so then six months later when I'm like, guess what guys I'm doing 4k a day. And they're like, you know, um, I let the, the thing about writing, especially pursuing writing professionally is there is always another mountain to climb. First. All you gotta do is finish that first draft and that's like a Mount Everest, then you get there and oh, I have to, uh, now we got another mountain to climb, you know? And it's like, wait, I have to revise again. And so now you're in another state and now you're like, wait, I have to get an agent. Um, uh, uh, uh, okay. Okay. I got my agent. Oh my God.

Tomi: I have to get a book deal. Mm-hmm, oh, okay. Oh my God. I have a book deal. I have to, to, uh, debut on the New York Times bestsellers list. Okay. If I, you always think the next thing is like the only thing, oh, I just gotta get a movie option. No, I'm like whatever levels of stress and anxiety you experience right now, you will experience on the, on basically every step of your career until you learn to take control of that. And so that's where I am now is I always used to be like the, and then my voice going higher and higher as I like, would achieve something else and something else. And now it's like, because the story comes from a place of discipline then from a place of like, what's gonna happen. Uh it's it's helped a lot.

Tomi: So, so you said, so yeah, that's what the, basically I share my lessons with my students. And, and so what you learn from the course is just that exactly what I needed to go from someone who could never finish her book ideas, uh, to someone who wrote "Children of Blood and Bone" Like the lessons in this course are the lessons that took me from the book that got 60 rejections and took four years, um, to write "Children of Blood and Bone," which took me like it was two months to write the first two drafts. And we, I wanna say the rest is future history, I guess, but there's already a lot of history there, so it's insane, but this is like the lessons. And I also wanted it to be, I guess the word is accessible because I found getting an education as a writer to be pretty, I don't wanna say inaccesible, but I always tell, you know, I piece together this, the lessons I teach in this course from like one, I guess at that point, like the 4,000 or so hours of experience. Well, no, this was after, so we'll probably call this like at least five thousand five thousand five hundred, probably let's say that that's a low estimate. Maybe that's the amount of knowledge that's in there. And yeah, that's what I needed though. So maybe there is 5,500 hours worth of knowledge of the storytelling process and sort of the writer psychology process so that someone who's seriously interested in like pursuing a career as a writer, or can get that education in one place online, access it 24/7 for life, as opposed to having to drop like $500 to go to a writer's conference and, and maybe get one meaningful nugget out of it like that, that you never get to hold again. Mm-hmm.

Mignon: That's what I was gonna ask you because you mentioned six months, so is it it an on, is it an ongoing thing? Is it a time limited thing? How does it work? Just, just from the details.

Tomi: It is lifetime access. You, you purchase it, you become a student, you get to access it for access the course for life, you get to access anything, any new materials. Um, we're doing like, uh, some thing I loved this year was the television show, "The Dropout," uh, written by Liz Maryweather. I loved it. And I was like, oh, you know what? I wanna discuss it. So we're having like a the dropout discussion seminar, like in two weeks, it's a very, it's a community of people who really wanna go for this. And I think, I guess I'm their professor McGonal I think, I probably seem like the scary Griffindor um, I think I seem like a scary Griffendor do to them because I'm like, you are a lion. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Um, but yeah, I do feel like this fierce, like, no, my writers are gonna be educated.

Tomi: My writers are gonna be nice. We had our first writer get a book deal.

Mignon: Yeah. Yeah. Tell me about that and ...

Tomi: Yeah, that, oh, I'm just so excited. It's it's oh, if Jamie, if you see this, we're so proud of you. We're so proud of you. That was the dream. Maybe it was two or three years ago. I was like, how beautiful would it be to go into like Barnes & Noble one day? And there'd be a whole shelf of like students from this course. So it started like these started as dreams, but you, I feel it. I, the beautiful thing about being a writer is like, there's a lot of obstacles. You are always fighting for something, but then when you win it, you feel like the end of like an old Disney channel, like when you won the hockey match and like, you saved your parents marriage or something, and they like hoist you up.

Tomi: And you're like, you're the best you're like, that happens in your head, because everything you attempt to do is so impossible. Um, so yeah, it's just a very, it's a, I think being a, a writer is its own like "Lord of the Rings"-esque, epic adventure. And therefore, I think anyone who has that, that love in their heart, but also that like passion and that courage to be like, no, I'm gonna try and do this. Because if I have to do something all day, I'd rather it be this. Mm-hmm. I respect that. And I see The Writer's Roadmap as some, a course to help enable that in a meaningful cost-effective, accessible way.

Mignon: Amazing. So we're gonna wrap it up. Thank you. We're, I know you're, we're running up to the end of the time we had, but I so appreciate you talking with me today. And if people do want to look more into your course, like where can they go? Where can they go to learn more or just, you know, sign up if they want to?

Tomi: Yes. Okay. So you can go to and click the For Writer's tab. It'll take you right to The Writer's Roadmap. You could also go to, and we actually have a $50 off coupon for all of the listeners at Grammar Girl.

Mignon: What?

Tomi: Um, thank you so much for having me. Um, so the coupon code, I will I'll type it out just to make sure that we have it, but it's GrammarGirl2022.

Mignon: Oh my gosh. I didn't know you were going to do that!

Tomi: So for any student. Oh yeah, no, we really, we really have appreciate this. Like we appreciate, I, again, I love people who love words because I'm like, you, you get it. Cool. You get it.

Mignon: Well, thanks. I'm sure some of my listeners will appreciate that. That's great. So thanks again. Tomi Adeyemi. It's been great to talk with you. I love your books, and your course sounds amazing and, and that's all.

Tomi: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Thank you.

Tomi: Mm, bye.