How to write a book, part 2

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.



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.

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

  1. Christelle

    In regards to Tereai, I thought, at first, that writing couldn’t be taught, but after three years in a creative writing program I have realized that there is a lot to learn. Technique is not something you are born with. Learning some of the most basic elements of writing and reading can sky-rocket your abilities. Try reading “Ron Carlson Writes a Story” it’s a small simple book with a lot to offer. Great post!

  2. Scott Berkun

    Christelle: I agree. I wouldn’t say talent is irrelevant, only that people spend so much time arguing about what talent is, and who has it or doesn’t, that they could have easily written something half-decent if they put their energy there instead.

  3. Mike Nitabach

    Are all the comments to that post as illiterate as the ones you selected here?

    1. Scott Berkun

      Mike: Yes. I’d say about 30% of them are some form of very basic question, in many cases a question I answered in the original post, poorly written.

      Another 20-30% are thoughtful posts of advice or at least a personal story of how they are trying to write and found my post useful.

  4. Vicky

    Thank you for your advice, I appreciate your candor. I have wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. One afternoon, not too long ago, I awoke from a nap and rushed to get a pen and paper. I wrote a page and it feels great! Thanks again. Vicky.

  5. Ann Woolsey

    I’ve had an idea for a TV show, for 15 years, and think a book may be easier. Today, while visiting an old friend who’s in the same field, we realized we had the same idea, got excited sharing stories that educate and entertain. Your site was informative and hopefully you will be hearing more about how well this project moves along in the future.

    Thanks for sharing

  6. Doesn't Matter

    I realized long ago that I don’t have anything worth saying that someone else hasn’t already said.

  7. Shannon

    I am writing a book.But,I feel like I’m not writing enough details. How do I get over it? :(

  8. Peter

    Thank you. I have always believed that the effort required to excel at what one does is much more likely to appear if one can first love what one does. For years now, I have been kicking around the idea of writing stories as I did when I was a child in school; for the simple joy of seeing the story in my head appear on paper. If I am published and recognized for that effort, great. If not, still great. No matter what I write, it will be a piece of me, different and unique and born of my heart. I often marvel at the forms that inspiration can take. Thank you…

  9. Russell

    Ok, I have written a page (a scene from my novel)
    Friends say its great but where can i get an unbiased opinion and informed feedback?

    I keep going back to it and tweaking details/hunting for better words/etc but feel i dont have the knowledge to know when to stop. Or when to scrap a page and start again.
    What are the copyright implications of showing my page to someone i dont know?
    If i publish the page on the web, Does that have future implications on its inclusion in a finished novel?

  10. Jay

    Writing is like art, because it is an art. And like art it combines 2 very important facets, technique and imagination. The one thing people seem to overlook in stories and art is that the flaws, mistakes, you make is what makes your piece perfect. Mistakes and flaws are human in nature and with out them an art piece (wether writing or painting) will feel inhuman, stale, and lifeless. Never be afraid of making mistakes and let that stop you from creating and sharing with people like me who would love to explore your worlds, knowledge and ideas. Thank you to anyone who shares these in any fashion.

  11. Karen Osinski

    This is so funny. I wonder, do most of these people know that the “great” authors never thought about being famous, getting rich or any of these other dumb thoughts? A true writer writes to write and I am so happy that you are telling them that. I just started writing my first book and I was looking for something to help me organize my thoughts when I stumbled across this article. Thanks for the laugh guys, it’s nice to know that stupidity is still a predominate human trait!

  12. Brandie

    Those were hilarious, some of them at least. Like your spunk!

  13. SabrinaT

    Thanks! I started witting a few years ago, mostly to keep myself from crying when my husband was deployed. It sort of morphed into a passion. Now I find myself stopping in the middle of the street to jot down a note or story line. Most of what I write is crap, and that is totally OK with me. I just have to write. Much like I am dribbling on and on right now. My question (yep, its in here somewhere) is how do you not write like you talk? I know, sounds stupid. I find myself thinking faster then I can type or write (yep, real pen and paper here). How do you slow your brain down enough to you know not miss the good parts. The parts where he feel in love with she, or his kid was born. You know what I mean?

    I have tried relaxation and yoga. But, I have 3 kids, and a husband who seems to have his wheels up more often then down these day. I relax to much and i’m sleeping. Drooling like a baby sleeping, not even good sleep/dream, and wake up inspired. Any advice would help A LOT more then Ritalin.

  14. Riley

    Jeez, can I just say Tereai has a stick up her butt? I don’t think she realizes that so-called “Naturals” would be anywhere if they didn’t do anything… besides with enough practice… you can do anything… (No one said you had to be able to do it well) The important things is to be able to LEARN.

    Pretty good comments..

  15. Mike Powell

    After years of reading and hearing that writing can’t be taught, I ran across something that continues to resonate: “art is technique executed well”. We all have talent. True, some have more than others, but I don’t think a lack of talent is the primary reason so much of what does get published is of such poor quality. It’s ignorance of the basics.

    To those who want to write I suggest studying the craft and not worrying about talent. There are a great many books, blogs, and websites about writing. You don’t need recommendations about any particular one. Read them all. Just like any writing, some are better than others, but each has something to offer. Do your homework and talent will take care of itself.

  16. Mario

    You know, I have read several of these “how to write book” sites (for fun of course ;-) and I have to tell you, you are, by far, the funniest. I’m working on my first fiction novel and I can’t agree with your views more. I love the “just shut up and do it” mentality. You’re not waking up and thinking hmmm, maybe I should fix my car or build an airplane, it’s a book! Anyway, thanks for the laughs!

  17. dave_courago

    when you tell a story, do you “see” an audience of one or many? in acting they say an audience of one makes it easier to focus.

  18. AbeK

    That’s a good one… I disagree on the ‘hell with publishers’ part though. The literary world is an unholy nexus between the agents, publishers, distributors and the booksellers. If you self-publish, the chances are that you will only sell nothing or something close to it. The right publisher (beware the vanity publishers) is critical to a book’s success else it doesn’t reach the readers. So you definitely need ‘in’ into the mob.
    This I have learned from the one book I have written so far. The next one will do better… or so I pray! :)

  19. Dan Southby

    Hi Scott,

    I just found a article you wrote about writing and what to do when first starting out with a blank page. I just recently started writing my first book and found your article to be well written with great advice, especially if you have writers block. It was also humorous in some spots and made me laugh so thank you for the smiles on my face. I only hope one day I will be a successful writer as yourself!

  20. Mehul Desai

    Are there any good online tools that you recommend – to actually start writing the book – i am thinking to use a blog – but not sure if that will allow me to be flexibile to move chapters and content around.

  21. Reshma D'Silva

    I love writing, it seems to come naturally to me. :-) I aspire to write a book some day, but more so for myself than others. I find writing very relaxing and fulfilling. Your post was very helpful. I agree that it is indeed a lot of work, but it

  22. Jake

    I busted into laughter after reading about your dog’s practical joke! Hahaha, I’m still laughing. That dog has a very good sense of humor!

  23. Nancy Andre

    I am in the process of writing a book. It began as just putting down thoughts on paper and has slowly evolved. I really don’t have any problems with it. I just wanted to say your sense of humor is so entertaining. Thanks for the smile. You take away fear.

  24. Constance Lang

    I am a very successful well known business woman in the professional haircare industry, I am also a talented writer, I have, in the past, done an industry related news magazine with a circulation of 25k to 51 countries, I am a writer before business woman and have always “threatened” to write my book! It is now time to write, I can get the stories out of my head and on to paper, no problem, but, now I am struggling with the approach to the subject of the professional hair industry, do I write an expose? a tell all? my life story (would anyone be interested) a look deep into the bowels of “beauty”, I am afraid of a rambing! I need direction in choosing how to proceed and how to define what would be of most interest, to the general public or just the profession and how to approach the subject.

  25. Steve Sperandeo

    Hi Scott,

    Firstly, thank you very much for your two articles; they were a pleasure to read.

    Secondly, in response to the “TALENT” buzz-kill comment, there’s a really good book called “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin. It delves into the connection between long, sustained periods of work and greatness. It also tears down the magical veil from trite examples of greatness like Mozart, Tiger Woods and others. And while I have always been a strong advocate for genetics, upbringing and someone’s natural state in determining performance, I think I was a little arrogant. I downplayed or simply underestimated the role of 20 years of sustained work supplemented by mentorship from previous masters. I honestly believe that talent is overrated now.

    Work, research, seek mentorships with Masters, converse with the community, teach, copy (be don’t publish copied material) for practice. I know this sounds like I’m buffing this book again, but please, read that book. One of the most useful things I drew from it was the simple definition of ‘Work’. It’s used vaguely the world over, but knowing the difference between good work and bad work is important. So, when someone says, “Work hard for 20 years; then you’ll be great.” Beware! There are good ways to work hard and bad ways to work hard.

    I think I’ve exhausted the allowed character limit for this post. Again, great articles Scott and thank you everyone for commenting.

  26. Shells

    Your answers to all the questions are as cool as old fashioned detectives with fedoras!
    And I can understand why your post is so popular – you just make it sound like small steps. Write a sentence, write the page, complete the chapter, bind the book. Your confidence has knocked my procrastination/fear/excuses off the shelf.

    My publishing date is October 2010.

    Thanks again.

  27. tom c

    I understand that it dos take hard work and self-dicipline to write a good book.Research is important, fact checking is important theres alot of work to writing, but anyone can do it.Where I’m getting stuck is what comes first title or the actual “meat” of it.I’ve always had an interest in writing fiction stories, but I’m involved in politics quite a bit ,as of lately, so I think Ill start with a political book.The current events may even make it profitable, who knows unless u try.Btw thanks much for the help.

  28. Tina Smallwood

    I have a completed outline, all characters are in sequence and story line plotted out, prologue and first chapter complete. I’m stuck because my “book” reads like a movie manuscript. any advise?

  29. Craig

    That’s a great article. Perfect. It really encapsulates what it is to be a writer in an entertaining manner. I’m ashamed to say I liked the “My dog Max” reply the best.
    If you have the time, I’ve been involved in the developement of an innovative new publishing site you should see. It allows readers to read a work as it is written and it gives authors feedback as they write. After a reader checks out the first chapter, they can download and discuss subsequent chapters for 97 cents each. Its like looking over the author’s shoulder and whispering in his ear. If a reader participates in all the chapters, they get a copy of the book when it is finished. Take a look at . The first book is called “The Pendulum Man”. Become a member(free) and help out if you can. (A nice write-up wouldn’t hurt.)

  30. Laura

    That was great advice for MJ’s quip. I have been drawn into writing a book and took the simple strategy of merely writing a paragraph and not worrying about the entire book.

  31. Joe

    The best writing advice I got was years ago, when I was first starting to try creative writing (I’d been doing technical writing, well, long before that). I complained to a friend, who was a writer of some success, that I hated the way my creative writing sounded. Her response was that every writer hates the way their writing sounds; get over it.

  32. Donna

    I love your intelligent sense of humor.

  33. Marleena

    I LOVE what you suggested to Lis, before the part where you told her to beat the person with her book. Haha Thank you for writing this. It’s extremely helpful!

    Marleena :o)

  34. Clare

    Hi. I’m 14 years old and I’ve just started writing a book. I’m on about the 16th page and I want someone else to read it. I don’t want to ask my parents or brother as i doubt their opinions will be exactly helpful to the overall book, as the most likely reply would be “and why are you writing a book?”.
    Who would you suggest getting to read the first bit?

  35. Scott Berkun

    Hi Claire:

    Congratulations on getting to page 16! Most people, of any age, never get that far :)

    If I were you, I’d try to find a mentor or teacher who can give you useful feedback on it.

    First bet is to see if there is 826 chapter near you:

    Second, think through your teachers, or older friends of the family – who would be most supportive, and give you useful feedback?

    Third, if you can’t find anyone else – let me know.

  36. Faeeza

    Hello Scott. I have just read your two articles on how to write a book and found them to be very informative and witty. I really enjoy your sense of humour and your practical approach to writing. I am in the process of writing a book, seven pages so far. I’m enjoying it and hope that someday it will be enjoyed by others.

  37. Shadman Shome

    Well, hi, I am 14 years old. Writing stories (non-fiction/ realistic-fiction 3-4 pages),which are really inspiring and was even collected by my school’s principal as the best work he has ever written, I am good at. Then again I ask my self “What Does He Know?” So all I am asking is that if you can give me any skills to us my “art of short story writing” to be a helpful incorporation to write an actual full book. I have been influenced by many authors including: Stephen King, Elie Wiesel, Shakespeare, Richard Wright, etc. So any ideas you can give to help me out will be great, thank you.
    P.S. Great Article(s)!

  38. Eric

    Hi Scott. I came across your blog when I searched how to write a book on google and found your advice very eye-opening. I’m typing up a book I’m working on in a word document, and I’ve gone through about 8 pages now, double spaced. Is there a way to know roughly how many pages it would be as a written out book? Thank you.

  39. Lynne P

    I can put my stories on paper but have difficulty getting them to flow into each other. I also fear that what I write will be taken the wrong way. I want to write a book, as I feel that it helps the healing process. Please help….

  40. Marisa

    It’s amazing how all one needs is a swift kick in the butt by a blunt stranger. You search the internet looking for “the way” to accomplish your goals (myself included) when truly all that is required is to just sit down and do it. Perhaps how you’ve done it is not the right way for someone else. This doesn’t mean that anyone is doing it wrong; we’re human, we’re different. I love writing for that sole purpose. There is no right way to do it- no wrong way. Of course I am not the master of punctuation or sentence structure, but if it makes sense to me, and I can see it in my head, that’s all that a book really is. I can’t say I’ve understood everything I’ve ever read, and I don’t read even close to the most intellectual of material, but again, that’s the beauty. There’s an audience for everyone….

  41. Travis

    I have plenty of enough ideas that come visit my head to write a book. The problem is, when I write a page or so, I take a step back and look on what I wrote. I then get this feeling of dread, of how much more work and writing it is to get to the end of the story. It is as if I am getting into a hot tub, but only have my big toe in it right now, and wondering how I am going to get the rest of my body in it. It is quite daunting. Also, when I am writing, I am thinking of what is needed, the details, and such, so I get this feeling of moving as slow as a snail while my mind is a freight train. These feelings I get doesn’t really help encourage me to write, in fact I am lucky if I get around to writing once a month.
    I am thinking that it might be easier to write a summary of a book, keep on ever rereading it, putting in the details and expanding it. Happen to have any ideas?

  42. Scott Berkun

    Travis: What you describe is why writing is hard. The “idea” of writing is always nice and easy in the mind, but the work involved in making something in the world match what’s in your mind requires hard work. The thrill of the early idea is always more intense then the discipline required to put all the pieces in place.

    The only thing i can say is if you are looking for a way around the hard work, you should give up. There isn’t one.

    That’s not what you want to hear, but it is the truth.

    I enjoy writing, but make no mistake – it still involves long hours of work for me just as it does for any other writer.

    1. Scott Berkun

      Travis: Ok, here’s a less negative reply.

      Your problem seems less to do with writing and more to do with concentration. If you can’t stay focused on a single task, then you either need to learn to develop your powers of concentration (learn drawing, or meditation, or any number of tasks that demand it) or writing can only be a short game activity for you: poems, blog posts or maybe short stories.

  43. Pink27

    Hilarious, but true! Thanks for giving me a nudge to get off my bum, stop thinking of the negative side and just do it!

  44. Cory Riesen

    Wow dude sayin it like it is, i dig!

    Ever think writing is our only real chance to play god? I mean even if you don’t believe in god, lets say they created the universe using atoms and cells. We have the ability to create stories using letters and pages.

  45. Chrissy

    “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).”

    Haha that was an amazing response; I loved it! I just wanted to show my appreciation for that comment…

    Thanks for the laugh…and the suggestions. It’s much appreciated, sir.

  46. Julie Hannah

    Thank you for this honest and helpful review. My first question is about vocabulary. If you want to find a word with the right nuance, something that is not trite, do you routinely use a thesaurus or other reference when you are writing? Also, when researching for your book, do you use the services of a library scientist? If you do it yourself, what websites do you use to find references, review similar books that have been written, and research your target market? Thanks for your help!

  47. Jim

    Scott, do I have a chance or career in writing? English is my second language. I once loved English. In fact, my 4th grade teacher even complimented on my effort to master the English language as an ESL student and having only been in the US for 2 years. Now it’s 15 years later, I still hate English and have not make any effort to master it. I haven’t write an essay since college. Even in college, I hated writing. I passed English 101 with an A, but I did not pass English 102. I got lazy at writing. So yes, I am a college drop out. What makes me interested in writing is my interest in film. I want to make a movie. But before I can make a movie, I have to learn how to write. How do you begin writing a book? a rough draft? outline your plot and list your characters then fill in the blank in Microsoft Words?

  48. Emily

    “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.”

    Actually, this isn’t stupid at all. I’m a student in a media school and it’s what keeps the media people running. Script writers are always scared it’s not good enough. Actors are always scared their job wasn’t good enough. And so on and so forth. Being scared that you’re not good enough isn’t unusual, it’s quite normal. The thing to remember is, if you like it, if it can make you laugh and cry and touch you in some way, and with you being the person who wrote it, then it will touch others in some way. Just keep trying. You might have to go to a lot of different publishers before you find one who will publish your book. It’s the same in the movie business. It took Forest Gump 30 years before it finally got sold as a movie.

    1. Bob

      Forest Gump was released as a movie in 1994, based on a book published in 1986, and took place about a man sitting at a bus stop telling stories in 1981.

      I agree with your point, but I’m not sure how your math works out.

  49. Mydan

    Hello Sir-

    Thank you for the article. I am in the works of my first book. Do you personally, let family and friends read/hear it as you go? Or do you wait until you finished to share?

  50. Blake

    Let me say first off, this article is absolutely great and the “response to comments” section could quite possibly be even better! My situation is this, I can write about absolutely anything and did for years in school for myself and many friends. The problem that I have is just that, I can write about anything, but I can choose nothing. Recently, my younger sister, who just finished her freshman year of college, asked me to write a research paper for her on ANYTHING. I had to tell her I couldn’t because of my inability to narrow down such broad requirements. I need someone to give me a goal or subject and then I can run with it. Any advice for poor pitiful me?

  51. Anthony Delgado

    I love it. I totally jive with the comment about talent. Talent shmalent. I’m a would be author, but I’m an accomplished musician. When someone says to me ‘Wow, you are amazing, you must be a natural’ I just want to punch em in the nose. Instead I usually tell them how I worked seven hours a day for years on end to get where I am.

    Believe it or not, writing comes far more naturally, although I am still a better musician than writer. All in time.

  52. marzapan

    Okay, here is my question. What if I am not a good writer (grammatically). I have a very unique tone to my writing and get raving reviews from teachers in journals but scorns in proper essays. Obviously this will be a problem at some point in time because even if my some means I am able to afford an editor what’s to say that they will not change the way my work speaks and therefore my uniqueness (but in the process making it grammatically correct)???

  53. E.U Atmard

    Here you talk a lot about writing, and outlines, and all that funny stuff you find when writing in prose. But what do you do with poetry. And I’m talking about big poetry, what some would consider epic poetry? Don’t take me wrong, I’m not talking about the stability of the market for that sort of thing, but I actually find it difficult to picture a book comprised of a single uninterrupted poem (that is, published nowadays. There are lots of them in the early days, like my compatriot’s Os Lusíadas, or Dante’s Divine Comedy).
    Also, as a young writer, there are two things that really get to my nerve. First the non-apreciation of a book, let it be mine or of a writer friend of mine, because of a choice of genre or style of narrative.
    Second, the fact that because of my age editors don’t even pay attention to the book. And I know what I’m saying. Some just said (simplifying it a lot) “Too young didn’t read”. What, am I and my friends the bible to be treated as “tl,dr” variations?
    Now regarding your post, it did help a lot. I am truly grateful. And since I’m not of english language, i hope i’m NOT being sarcastic.

  54. Natalia

    I started writing my book on random sheets of paper. I never really considered finishing it until I realized how nice the idea sounded. After I began writing -or shall I say re-writing- the story continued molding itself into something I found interesting. I decide I want to incorporate ideas from the script I originally wrote, but as I read it again, I realize how ridiculously terrible it was. The thing was that when I read my new story, it was completely fine.
    When I go out to continue my story, I decide I want to return and fix any mistakes I’d most likely made. As I read that script I become unsatisfied and change it. The problem continues even now, because when I read what I have at the beginning it tires me and I always want to recreate a scene and it ends up ruining my entire plot. I have no idea what to do then, so I limit myself to stop reading what I have so far and finish. The idea bites at me ever single time I sit at my computer to type because I know I have several mistakes I need to fix, but don’t want to risk ruining everything again.
    Some advice, please?

  55. Alex

    Hmm, ok, but my problem is a bit more evolved. I love writing, I’m a blogger, have written thousands of lines and gotten very good feedback on it all. I’m writing my book, and I’ve got about 50 pages or so. And I feel the material is unique (ish), funny (don’t kill this one delusion, ok?), and hopefully useful to people.

    No, my problem is how to go about publishing it. And I’m currently thinking a self-published eBook, but I’m finding it very, very hard to get some straight information and advice on how to go about it all. Now, I’d love to get a hard-copy on a shelf and be a rock-star and get invited to all the parties (no, I don’t really think nor want this, except the first part of the sentence), and I could do that myself, but I’d get the sad feeling of cheating. Or I could self-publish a paper version and try to find some funds to do that.

    This is all a quagmire, what to do, what to do? It’s easy for an already published author to get some deal going, but what about if you’re not already a rock-star?

  56. Roeland


    Im 16 years old and come from amsterdam.i am writing an book full with magic and sorcery etc,but i have an problem. in alot of books you see that the sentences are then close to the edge of the book and then a little bit further again,i just cannot figure out how to know when i have to do that.
    i hope you can help me out.

    My years in school was not the best^^, bad educating so, sorry if my english is bad.

  57. Jasjit

    I have been obsessed with road trips(located within India). Last two years I have done around 5 to 6 serious road trips and now considering to ink them down but really have no clue how to start on. Could you give some tips on it.

  58. Corey Trench

    Very good stuff, Scott. Am enjoying reading your insights and learning.

    I wonder if a blog is too unconscious as a media, like a diary? I have probably thrown out more than I have kept. So easy to write and publish that you don’t edit the rant or consider reader. I am guilty of writing this and more, like writing to see what it is that I think and not focussed enough on, Will it be helpful to anyone.

    Have a small following. Used to have a list that I would send my columns to. One “friend” asked me to take him off the list. Ouch.

    The thing is, Writing is fun. May be at it a long time before I have a published article again (it has been a long time and was associated with consulting work) or a book (never).

    The things that stop one are amusing. I should be working at WalMart, earning a living again. Ha, ha.

  59. Vicki Finley

    You really have it pegged with this blog!!! Loved it. Funny how some people can’t understand that just putting down a few words is writing, and that is all they really have to do.

    Please people, if you want to write, sit down and write something, anything; start with “My dog ate my homework!”. Then “I ate chicken for dinner.”, see? You just WROTE something! So what if you can’t spell, if your grammer sucks, if your handwriting looks like you wrote with your toes, it’s a start, and you can go back tomorrow and fix it. Just get the thought down where you can read it and change it later. The point is conveying your thoughts so people can understand you. Who cares if your socks have holes and you put your undies on backward? Unless you want someone to know that, and it’s an integral part of the story, nobody needs to know. Just write down what you want them to know.

    Thank you for this blog – loved it!

  60. Natsha

    I am an aspiring author and I got the perfect story down in all the exact words I saw in my head. Great for me, but its only about 40 pages long, and I wanted it to be a novel. Im not sure what direct question to ask for, but can I have some help?

  61. Julie

    For some reason, your posts are extremely motivational! I’ve read pretty much all of your posts on writing, and i scribbled an entire page full with a lot of ideas to write.

    I don’t have a problem with writing, at least not when it’s fanfiction. I can write 10 pages easily, without stopping, when it’s about somebody else’s characters. I’ve only just started writing my own story, and it goes so much slower. I’ve written the outline of my story a year ago, and today is the first time I actually started writing the real story. What helped with my particular story, is imagine the story I’m writing isn’t the story that really happened to them. for some crazy reason, that works for me.

    well, I’ll stop ranting about uninteresting stuff now, because I only wanted to say thank you for the idea boost you gave me ^^ (and I’m sorry if I made any mistakes, English isn’t my native language)

  62. alexis

    hi i heard that my brother’s friend made a book and got it published and i was wondering how to make a book to even though im 10 years old. so if you could help that would be great

  63. Lonzie the kid writer

    i am eleven and I love to write and read and i always have these little ideas about stories but when i start to write the bad side of me tells me to stop writing because you suck at it. Yet i always continue can you help me

  64. Toby

    Hey, interesting posts, just started a fantasy novel , if you get time can you check out my blog and tell me what you think of my writing thanks.

  65. Lizzy

    IMO, the Tereai person is wrong. You don’t have to be born with talent to have it. I couldn’t draw until last year at all because i didn’t try (drawing has nothing to to with this post thingy… but still). Because i tried, studied the body, looked up how to draw, and experimented i was able to go from drawing horrible stick people to what i can now in about a year.

  66. Gwen

    I’ve wanted to write a book since I was 6 and have well-developed characters and a good plotline. I seldom have writers block for more than a paragraph or so every five pages and so far I have maybe 15 chapters written out. My only problem is to stay committed. I keep finding reasons to not write one day, or to only do a couple of sentences before stopping for the night. Since I’m serious about writing I want to know if this is O.K., do you have to write frequently to be successful?
    P.S. Love the article, it really helped me.

  67. Lankin

    The talent vs. work discussion is ridiculous. A talent, however huge, needs practise and determination, things most wannabe-artists are lacking. Maybe it is the TV’s fault, suggesting that everyone can be famous, without any requirements made on their behalf. (And — to be famous is something else yet than being “good.”)

    Talent is no substitute for work. The way someone does write differs. Even people where it all seems to be spontaneous and light-handedly written, like Rimbaud, surely put work in it.
    Even he didn’t just say “Hell yeah, I just have to lie down and wait for the green fairy to kiss me,” and for me, he was talent personified.

    (… and sorry for my very belated answer, I just discovered your blog, and am delighted to have found it!)

  68. Sam

    Hi Scott, I really liked your blog. Thanks for sharing some awesome stuff.

    Here’s my problem (I’m really going out on a limb here, so be gentle). I’ve started. Though I do try to give an excuse that I will ‘get to it soon’, I’m continuously adding notes and small pieces to my diary.

    As I kept doing this, I’ve realized that the scope of my book has outdone a reader’s patience. I don’t think anyone really wants to know how the Universe started and has come to today. I also know breaking it down would be smart. But I’m pretty unsure of how to restrict my mind and wrap itself around the scope of the book. What could be the parameter(s) I could use for categorizing the scope?

    To be honest, As I’m writing this post I’m realizing its pretty stupid to ask another Author how he figured out solutions to problems that I had. They’re all part of being a good author.

    I’m still gonna publish this though. Thanks none the less.Though I’d love to hear your inputs on my situation.

  69. Ladia

    Hi Scott. You are awesome and an inspiration as I write my first book, an autobiography of sorts. Your response to the comments are so dead on. I love them and I love the first article, also. Keep up the good work.

  70. Andreea

    Your tips & tricks are exactly just what I needed! I feel so much better now, that I’ve seen so many people with questions and doubts as mines, and I’m happy that your answers are so clear and simple, and positive. Thank God that you are sharing your experience! :)
    And I have to ask: how good can be for me if, in the process of writing, I’m reading lots and lots of books written in the same genre? Can it be considered a source for imagination? Can it be a bad thing if I get inspired from other writers?

  71. Calliope

    Hi Scott,

    Like the rest of the people who commented on this post, I’m interested in writing a book. I’m 14, and I want to write a fantasy novel with magic,wizards,parallel dimensions,etc. However, I keep finding similarities with my book and other books (like Harry Potter). It’s not like I copied my ideas from Harry Potter or the Hunger Games and they aren’t exactly like my novel, but I don’t want people to think I that I wrote a harry potter knock-off. Do you have any suggestions on how I can either change my story or add more creative ideas? Also, how should I plot out the chapters? I thought of using bullet points, but I’m not sure if that will work…..

  72. Andy

    Excellent article, I’ve been thinking if writing a book myself but my problem is the same as some of the people who commented. I can’t put my thoughts to words, but your article showed me that it happens and I can overcome that so thank you.


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