3 Ways to Master the Transition from Writing a Blog to Writing a Book

Aug 23, 2023 | Writing A Book

Atomic Habits is one of the most successful nonfiction books of all time. Before he wrote the book, James Clear wrote a stupendously successful blog. You might guess that it was an easy transition from writing blog posts to writing a book. You would be wrong. Here’s how Clear described things in his 2016 Annual Review.

“For the three years prior, I was writing a new article every Monday and Thursday. The focus was on creating great work that was usually 1,500 words or less. Now, my writing ambitions have grown and I’m working to create a remarkable book of 50,000 words or more. This transition from rapid work to deep work has been hard for me—much harder than I expected.”

James Clear isn’t the only writer who’s faced this problem. Robert Caro struggled when he transitioned from a journalist with deadlines measured in days to a biographer whose work took years.

Many of my clients struggled with that transition. They were good writers, but they’d never tackled a book before.

Why Writing a Book is Different

Writing a book is different than writing short pieces. One obvious reason is the length. 50,000 words is a lot more writing than 1500.

Then, there’s the complexity. A book is a complex system. If you change something in one part of the book, you’ll probably have to change some other things as well.

Plus, writing a book takes a lot of time and your memory is fragile and fallible. It’s hard to remember from one month or a year to the next exactly what you said or exactly which stories or examples you used.

What You Can Do

Don’t despair. All is not lost. Here’s what to do.

Write your marketing copy before you write your book. Keep that description handy. Your marketing copy is the promise you make to prospective readers of your book. Check what you write against the marketing copy. That way you’ll stay on track.

Keep track of the stories, examples, and research you use. This will help you avoid repeating yourself unnecessarily or, even worse, sharing the same material in conflicting ways. It’s simple to keep a list of what you do but if you’d like something more formal, like my chapter planning worksheet.

Monitor your progress. As Richard Feynman said,

“You are the easiest person to fool.” A mentor of mine put it this way: “If you’re not keeping score, you’re not serious.” Track your progress quantitatively and qualitatively. Make notes about key decisions so that you don’t have to remember later why you made them.


Writing a book is a bigger project than writing a short piece.

Writing a book is more complex than writing shorter pieces.

Writing a book takes far longer than writing a shorter piece.

Write your marketing copy before you write your book. Keep it handy as you write the book.

Keep track of the stories, examples, and research you use.

Monitor your progress.

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