The Secret to Writing That Nobody Tells You

I love this post. I’m not sure ‘nobody’ tells you the secret, but far too few do.


When I coach people, there is an ugly truth about writing that I often hold back from them. It’s something you can only learn through gut-wrenching, razor’s edge, shard of broken glass experience.

There is no magic to writing, none at all. It’s nothing but grueling

No magic, no easy formula, no genius algorithm. There is no “secret” that is going to make everybody love your work, buy all your books, tell their friends about you, and get stars in their eyes when they hear your name.

It is simply monotonous, repetitive work.

I recently finished the manuscript for my first novel. For eight years I struggled to finish it. And do you know what finally helped me finish it?

Monotonous, repetitive work.

I did it by sitting down (almost) every day and writing a minimum of 500 words.

Some of those days were pretty good days. I would say…

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6 thoughts on “The Secret to Writing That Nobody Tells You

  1. How is it that someone who just finished their first novel is making money coaching others in writing? Yes, it is hard work but there are a lot of tools to be found and just banging your head against the wall isn’t the best way to go about it. I am a bit tired of all the whining about writing from people who have too much time and money for their own good. If you have time to write and you love to write, rejoice and do it. Thank your lucky stars for each and every moment. If you don’t love to write, there is something you will be passionate about and it might actually pay better than writing. Go find it. If you love to write and it is your passion and you don’t have time to write, then you probably dislike the whining as much as I do.

    • If a writer isn’t struggling, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that the writing isn’t all that great. And I’m with you about the whining–write or don’t write, I don’t really give a fuck. But anyone who says writing is easy, I don’t want to read your work.

      I’m one of the folks who finds the process of writing grueling. I spent the last year or so writing “seriously” or at least, devoting much more of my free time to the hobby than I ever had before. For me it’s been put up or shut up time in my life. Churning out 500 words a day would be an absolute celebration for me. Of course, I just unfollowed a blogger who is also a self-pub’d writer when he published a post that consisted of nothing but the word “coffee” typed over and over again with a link to his self-published book (how to make a zillion dollars in self publishing, or some such BS).

      So, um, yeah, if your standard of writing is typing the word “coffee” over and over again, then pushing out 500 words is probably a breeze.

      There are a lot of things that I love to do that are hard: I love to write, I love to run, I love being a Mom. None of those are easy. Do I take joy in each of them? Sure, but I’m still going to complain about the shitty scene I just wrote, or how my knee hurts like a bitch, or how on earth did I manage to give birth to kids like these . . .

      Of course, maybe I’m just a complainer. 😉

      • Where did I imply that it’s easy? I don’t think I’ve ever been really passionate about something easy. Why is loving something and being passionate about it equated with it being a breeze?

  2. My take on this post was very different to yours. I didn’t see it as whining at all, just a realisation that in order to write a novel you need to put the hours in. At no point did she mention how this was achieved, whether she had the freedom, time or money to do this easily, or had to work double shifts and give up sleep to achieve her goal and frankly, it doesn’t matter. She made the commitment to write 500 words a day and achieved her goal.
    I agree with you that if you have time to write and you love to write, rejoice and do it. As far as I can see, this is what the author did.

  3. Great, inspiring post, Dylan. Thanks for sharing. The kick in the pants (and naked truth) many of us need to hear.

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