A popular posts on this blog is how to write a book: the short honest truth with over  900 comments. It’s the 2nd or 3rd link if you do a google search for how to write a book.

I answer many of the comments and recently rounded up more fun ones to respond to. Here we go.

POPOOLA ABAYOMI asked:

PLAESE HELP ME KNOW HOW TO WRITE

Um, no. Not until you at least spell the first word correctly and turn the caps off. (odds are 50/50 this post was written by my dog, Max, playing a practical joke on me).

Geraint wrote:

hey im 15 and im writing a book and i was wondering what you do when u get writers block because im getting it alot now im on my 1050th page of my book, its good so far i think and i was just wondering if you had any tips on how to get rid of writers block or on how to get inspiration? great article by the way lots of help :D

If that’s not a typo, and you have 1050 pages, your problem is not writers block my friend. You may even have writers anti-block. When you’re in the hundreds of pages it’s a good idea to stop for a few minutes and think about plot and structure. Or find an editor to read some of what you’re written.

Lynne wrote:

I am a surgical RN,,and I know nothing about writing a book,,but I want to write one related to things that are important and maybe useful to others (nothing to do with the medical field), my concerns is how to start the book, do i do a outline first or do I just jump in a start writing and organize later,,what program should I use on my pc???

There is no single way to do this and everyone works differently. Try writing an outline. If you don’t like that, try jumping in. Personally I like outlines. It helps me sort out my thinking and gives a rough structure to aim for, but I’m always willing to abandon the outline when it feels right. It’s also a good barometer for how clear my thinking is, since if I can’t list ten or twelve ideas, or points, or plot notes, it’s unlikely I’ll have enough for an entire chapter, much less a book. But many writers work the other way. The important thing is you try something, and if it doesn’t work, try something else. There are plenty of gimmicky books that offer other methods too.

Chris wrote:

That was great, I decided I will make a film instead.

Hmmm. I actually think making films is harder than writing books, but perhaps I should keep my mouth shut.

Art asked:

I have a wife and a son and while I think others would enjoy my stories would I even be able to get published on a low end well enough to pay the bills persay? I know it’s a question asked quite often and I’ll be doing a bit more searching and I may turn up some answers I just would like to hear it from someone who has been there.

Assume not. And for those story writers who do earn enough to pay the bills it takes years or decades to earn enough credibility and audience for that to happen. It’s certainly possible, but the odds are against it, especially if you’re talking about short stories. Write for other reasons, but do write. You’ll learn much about yourself just by trying.

Ashley inquired:

thanks for the article. I love to write stories, that is in my head i do. I can imagine so many different places, situations, and stories. However, when I sit down to write them out or pick up paper and pen to write it out, I can’t seem to word it right. At least, not all of what i wanted to write. I have great openers, the first chapter, so to speak comes so naturally. I can do an outline of what I want to say, how I want the story to go, but, when it comes to actually writing the whole thing out I get stuck.

and Janet asked:

The problem i’m having is this , it’s all in my head, getting it on paper is the hard part. I started writing one evening about four months ago, and got bugged down with it. Telling the story is very easy ,but putting it in the form of a book i’m having struggles.

Ha! Welcome to the torture of being a creative. There are thousands of musicians who can hear songs in their heads, but can’t make it sound right on the piano or guitar. Painters who imagine canvases in their dreams they can never replicate in the day. The discipline of creative work is learning how to close that gap, over time, through the mastery of craft (See How to find your voice). There is no shortcut. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, it feels that way for most creative people most of the time. The difference is those who fight through and keep working learn to close the gap. Or perhaps simply make excellent work others love, even if it never perfectly matches what the creator had in their mind (See Why you fail at writing and How to get good at anything).

Lis asked:

How do you get pass the fear? All I keep thinking is that I will be laughed at and think my book stupid.

Weren’t you afraid to leave this comment? You did write it after all, despite the fact I could call you stupid. A book is just a collection of 8,000 or so sentences. If you can write one you can write 8000. When anyone laughs at your book, just say “ok, where is yours?” Then when they start to make up some excuse for not having one, hit them in the face (with your book).

Kim, who perhaps did not read the post, asked:

I know I can write; I live and breath to write. What completely douses my enthusiasm are the odds of getting published. That thought takes the wind right out of me!

To hell with publishers then. Go to kinkos. Go to lulu. If you are obsessed with someone else publishing your book your problem isn’t writing, it’s your ego. Self publishing gives you control over the odds.

Tereai said:

If the truth be told writing is natural. It cannot be taught. Thats why there’s a word called TALENT. If its not in you no matter how you force yourself it wont be as good as the naturals.

Who cares? The coolness of writing is you can revise. If you are willing to put in effort writing gets better as you work with it. I’d agree with you perhaps for figure skating or opera, but the tools for writing are available to all. And besides, name a talented writer who didn’t work. Name a natural. I’d bet you they didn’t see their process, discipline or effort as natural. They’d describe it, much like I did in the original post, as work.

MJ quipped:

The first is write the beginning.
write the end and then fill in the blanks !

As silly as this sounds, the first question I ask people when they ask about writing books is this: Have you written a page? And when they say no, I suggest perhaps their problem isn’t with writing books, it’s with writing a page. If you can’t write a page, don’t worry about books, worry about paragraphs.

If you missed part 1, this will all make more sense if you go back and read it.

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145 Responses to “How to write a book, part 2”

  1. trevor |

    Great article and good advice not to mention the fact you added a bit of wit in there. Good job keep it up

    P.S. I will have to disagree with the comment or name Sean.Stephen King in my opinion has only written maybe one good book in his entire career and that my good sir was PET SEMETARY.

    Reply
    • Serena Salieri |

      While I enjoyed Pet Sematary a lot and it is one of my favorite of Stephen King’s Books, I must respectfully disagree with you. The Stand and It are much better, fuller and richer works than Pet Sematary.

      Reply
      • Kari |

        I have to also say that my favorite Stephen King book is “Eyes of the Dragon.” Not his usual, and VERY good!

        Reply
      • Leanna Wortel |

        I never read Pet Semetary…is that a well known book. I have read Pet Cemetary.

        Reply
        • Eleanor |

          ^ Leanna Wortel- Get your facts right before trying (emphasis on ‘trying’) to a) make other people feel stupid and b) make yourself look superior. The book is called Pet Sematary; to find out why, please reread the book. (Perhaps this link will be of assistance!)

          http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/rereading-stephen-king

          Also, please note that ‘cemetary’ is spelt ‘cemetery’. Apart from the aforementioned points… kudos for your comment. You sure showed the previous commenters.

          Reply
  2. Serena Salieri |

    Thank you for your blog and for this post! It’s humorous, well written and insightful. I love to write. I’ve been doing it as far back as I can remember. I’ve had some work published, but if I had expected to live on my love of this craft, I would have starved. A completed novel still eludes me, but I am determined and will get there someday. Published or not, it will be finished!

    Thank you for the advice, the laughs and pointing out the challenges!

    Reply
  3. A Arthur |

    This is an excellent blog for getting advise on how to write a novel. I am in the midst of it and am looking for advise such as those given in your blog.

    Thank you

    A Arthur

    Reply
  4. raymondvern |

    I RECENTLY SIGNED UP TO BE PAID FOR WRITING ESSAYS.
    THE FIRST ESSAY I SUBMITTED WAS DECLARED A PLAGERIZATION!
    BUT THE WEBMASTER WOULD NOT TELL ME WHAT MATERIAL I PALGERIZED. IT WAS AROUND FEBUARY AND I REALIZED THAT THEY BLEW THIER CAR MOTOR IN THE SUB-DEGREE COLD, AND WAS DESPERATE AND JUST SIMPLY ROBBED MY MATERIAL AND DID THE PLAGERIZING, AND GOT PAID. HITLERS WORKS PREVAILS MY FAVORITE AS A RESULT OF THIS TYPE OF TREATMENT I’VE BEEN GETTING ONLINE, IT’S HAPPENED TO ME A LOT, IS THERE ANYONE WILLING TO PAY ME TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THE INTERNET BEING A FAILURE BECAUSE IT ONLY PAYS A FEW; BLACK AND WHITE THAT ARE WILLING TO TAKE THE CHANCE WITH BEING CAUGHT & THEN SOME. IF YOU NEED A BOOK OF REAL STORIES ON BEING BILKED, I AM ASKING ONE MILLION DOLLARS IN ADVANCE. I DON’T GAURANTEE A BEST SELLER, BUT ALMOST!

    Reply
    • Kasey |

      Deal with it. You lucked out. You didn’t cover your arse and quite honestly, if you wrote like the above I don’t blame them for stealing it – correcting the spelling mistakes, grammar, caps lock and inserting full stops and paragraphs!
      As for writing a book re the internet being a failure, ha ha good luck with that and I guarantee someone has already done it, but hey give it a go if you must! Writing a book is easy, making it interesting enough to sell is a talent not everyone possesses.

      Reply
  5. Kate |

    What is your take on pseudonyms? Are they a cop out or a decent way to go if you are kind of very shy?

    Reply
  6. Dave Smith |

    How short may a book be? Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Jen Mills |

    I really enjoyed combing through several of your articles this morning after spewing my own thoughts on paper for a few hours. It gave me a nice kick in the rear, which is just what I was looking for, and I went back to one of my outlines to add to it and polish it up. Then my problem arose, like the ghost of writing’s future: I come up with something better. It’s just a simple change to my story; one that adds depth, character and plot, all of the tasty things we eat up books for. It sounds great, and I love that my ‘problem’ can easily be called something positive, but it’s beginning to be my headache. I have been writing this book for about 6 years now, and I can barely keep straight just who my main character is supposed to be, let alone anyone or anything else. The project has seen book outlines as a single novel, a trilogy, perhaps only 2, now 5 books total, then back to 1 as the story has jumped through a million plot line hoops in scattered locations. Now it’s just a mess.

    My inquiry, if you find the time to answer it, would be to ask for your advice on this issue. How do I settle for the story I already have 90% perfected and just write around the aspects I don’t like? If that isn’t the best perspective, how long do I let my story run rampant like a dog that will never learn to sit before I enroll it in a training class? I just can’t seem to beat the exhaustion front on anymore that comes from my story up and flipping over on me, upsetting everything that had a place and leaving a mess of all my hours of work only to start again. My creativity hinders my actual writing progress and my attempts to make a cohesive story hinder my creative solutions. Argghhh!

    Thank you in advance for any advice, even the hard-to-hear stuff
    Jen

    Reply
  8. steve |

    very interesting article . I think this will help me get started. Thank you so much for your input.

    Reply
  9. steve |

    Very interesting article. I think this will help me get started.Thank you so much for your input.

    Reply
  10. Anthony |

    As a fifteen-year-old who is an aspiring writer, I have reached a certain complication that has irked me for several years now. I have been in the throes of writing a fantasy series, and my largest pitfall is ‘motivation.’ There are many days when writing even a few sentences is absolutely horrid — others where I cannot cease letting the words flow, and elicit a fifty page turnout.

    I’m not certain if ‘motivation’ is what I am looking for, here — perhaps a way to solve writer’s block?

    Many thanks.

    Reply
  11. Mary |

    wat doo u meen i half 2 rite rite? hee hee.

    Reply
  12. Chiara |

    I love to write, just because I can put my thoughts and feelings in words. But I always wane to write a book and I would like to start now. Any advise on where or how should I start. Thank you

    Reply
  13. maria |

    I am 11 years old and I am writing my 1st book,wish me luck:]

    Reply
    • Gabriel |

      Good luck Maria!!

      Reply
    • Leah |

      Good luck! I’m 13 and want to write a book just don’t know where to start.

      Reply
    • V.S. |

      Oh, hey, me too! I have this idea, and I want to get it on paper soon. I’m glad to find out that another 11 year old is doing this, too!

      Reply
    • Cam |

      As a young writer myself ( same age as you) I didnt love actually writing the book at first. In ALWAYS imagine before I type. Or i just be plain Jane and make an outline Ha!

      Reply
  14. ashlen |

    thanks for the advice I am trying to write a book but it is so hard

    Reply
  15. James |

    Recently I have felt that I have been able to express myself in the furthest degree by writing. Even though I write, my grammar is awful because I was never taught much in elementary and middle school. I thought that maybe on my spare time off of work and school I would write a book that represented the struggles in my life as themes within the book. Do you think it would be difficult to write a book with the lack of grammar ability that I have? Also I feel like I have so many outlets that I could write that I like, but I am afraid that they might not last very long and then burnout (sort of like a bottle rocket). What do you suggest I do?

    Reply
  16. Peter Marion |

    I appreciate your candid style. Short, sweet and to the point. I have committed to writing a book, actually two books. I know that may sound odd but having two different projects on the go helps me keep fresh and creative with each one. The first book is about the wine industry which I am deeply involved, the other is about the car business in the 60′s – I grew up in this business. Am I taking on too much?

    Reply
  17. V.S. |

    I’m 11, and I have an idea for a book. But, I don’t know if i should start now or wait until I’m older. It feels like 11 year olds shouldn’t be writing books, right? Or wrong?

    Reply
    • Scott |

      Wrong. Write now. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll improve. And if you finish a book this year and want to publish no one will know how old you are. Plenty of authors write under pen names. Even J.K. Rawlings. Go for it.

      Reply
      • V.S. |

        Yay! Thank you sooooo much! I’m going to go start making ideas for my book right now! Thanks again!

        Reply
  18. Taressa |

    I have an idea for a novel, and am totally in love with it. I haven’t started officially writing, but have put plenty of notes on paper. My problem is that I have a lot of anxiety that if and when I get published, no one else will love my writing and in fact hate it. I don’t really share my ideas with others either because not all of my ideas are formed completely yet and I am quite frankly afraid of the harsh judgement others may give. I know it’s ridiculous because when it is published everyone will have their own opinion and if I love my book then that’s should be enough anyways, but I was wondering if you have had any such related worries while writing and if you had any suggestions on dealing with it, who and how to share ideas with others, and even how much I should share.

    Reply
  19. jane |

    To never write is to never be read. Why not try? And if you are afraid of getting your writing published, even though you know it would be accepted (or you hope it would be) print out a copy of your story, and accidentally lose it. Then find it again, maybe a year or so later, and if you still think it’s good, then try getting it published. And there’s always self-publishing, if you still don’t have enough guts to send it into someone. :)

    Reply
  20. Marie |

    I have wanted to write books since I was 12. I’m 44 and have only ever jotted down ideas. Your post has inspired me to begin my book now. Right now, after I’m done submitting this. Thank you! You made me realize that I need support not permission from my loved ones. What’s ironic is my desire to write books as I rarely read them. Are authors typically avid “book” readers? I love to read and I read a lot, just not books. Lol.

    Reply
    • Scott |

      On reading: could you be a good chef without eating food?

      Good luck!

      Reply
  21. syd |

    I’m 13 and i’m trying to write a book. How do I get started?

    Reply
    • Roncika |

      when you really get inspiration for something just write, don’t re-read for errors just write what comes to mind,editing can come later

      Reply
  22. Roncika |

    so I began writing a book, I’m fifteen years old, I’m on my second day, third page and I’m forcing myself to write more indirect speech because I’m told I use to much dialogue with characters. Secondly, I have a summary of my book but..I don’t have much details, I think I’m having writer’s block

    Reply
    • Cam |

      Well, think about what your favorite subject or even memory is, and try and have the character expirience it! Hope that helped

      Reply
  23. Leanne |

    I’ve always been asked to share my “Story” during school events more focused on Bullying, Loving yourself, and things like that. I’m 17 going 18 and I was just thinking “Maybe I should write a book?”. It would be a book about my journey going through 6th-9th grade and what I actually went through on the Inside….. But I’m stuck on where to start.

    Reply

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