Original question from Quora:

How can I write a good book?

My Answer:

There is only one way I know how to write a good book. I’ve only written one book and while I think it’s good, you might not so reader beware.

Before I explain how I wrote my first book, let me preface this by saying that I believe you need to be a prolific writer to be a good writer. Long before I wrote a book I wrote short stories, articles, and all kinds of things.

I didn’t wake up one day and decide to write a book and then the next day hit publish on Amazon. Reality doesn’t work that way.

It works more like this…

For a long time off and on I’ve had book ideas. Some books I started and some books stayed ideas.

My first finished book is something like book number twelve or twenty or something. Yes I’ve started many books before this book. I’ve gone a very long way into multiple books, but never before made it to the finish line.

This book was different…

My book is a series of essays on creativity and the act of creating things. I had a few essays to begin with, and I created an outline of something like 20 essays I’d like to write.

Then, I sat down every day and wrote. Each day I wanted to do at least 500 words, and if I got any further that was bonus.

Every day I wrote. It took something like a month of daily writing to have the rough draft of my book. At least that’s what I called it.

Then, I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a couple weeks I was done editing the first round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a couple weeks I was done editing the second round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a week I was done editing the third round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors. It could be better.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a week I was done editing the fourth round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a few days I was done editing the fifth round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors. It needed some different endings.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a few days I was done editing the sixth round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, but I found errors.

Time to edit.

Every day I sat down and edited my book. My editing process relies on cutting out everything I can. Each day I would try and edit at least one chapter, sometimes more.

Every day I cut words and it felt tighter and better. Every day the book improved. After a week I was done editing the seventh round of changes.

Then I sat down and read my book. I liked it, and it made me happy.

Time to publish.

That’s right, there were something like seven editing passes. I found more things after it published and made minor tweaks.

Without all that work, I would not have a book anywhere close to good. It would be bad.

All in total it took three to six months to write, edit, and publish the book. I bet 80% of my effort was editing. On the other side of that experience I’m a far better author.

But here is the trick that made the most difference to me and continues to make a huge difference in my work - I show up every day.

If you show up every day to create, edit, and improve your writing you’ll soon know how to write a good book. You have to put the time and effort into writing.

You don’t get good at writing by reading about writing or talking about writing. You get good at writing by writing.

The answer to your question is to write a good book you must put the effort in every day to write and to do this for years and years without stopping.

The real question is, are you willing to do what it takes to write a good book?

-Brian

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