Advice from the Masters: Harlan Coben

Nov 23, 2011 | Better Writing

Harlan Coben writes mysteries and thrillers and, recently, a young adult novel. As of a few moments ago, he had more than 50 million books in print around the world. If you want a comparison, that’s more than the population of Canada. Harlan knows something about writing.

In September, he shared some advice for writers in a piece for the Wall Street Journal, titled, “Want to Be a Great Writer? Follow These Three Steps.” Now you may not want to be a great writer or a fiction writer like Mr. Coben, but here’s his second point which applies to all writers.

“You have to sit your butt in the chair and write.  You have to do that every day.  That doesn’t mean you lie on your couch and play with your navel.  That doesn’t mean you go shopping when the words don’t flow the way you think they should.  That never works.  It means you sit your butt in the chair and get to work.  No excuses.  And just so we’re clear: Outlining is not writing.  Coming up with ideas is not writing.  Researching is not writing.  Creating characters is not writing.  Only writing is writing.”

The blog posts you don’t write won’t impress anyone. You will make exactly zero money from the book you haven’t finished. So sit down (or stand up) and write. Only writing is writing.

Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts.

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