Original question from Quora:

Books tend to be 100-200 pages long. Whenever I write freely, it seems impossible to fill up that many pages. How do authors make their stories long?

My Answer:

When I wrote my first book, it seemed like an impossible task to write it. Yet, the first draft clocked in at around 100 pages, and the final was 64. Here is how that happened…

I had a few essays I wrote around creativity, and I wanted to expand it into a full book. So, what I did is I came up with a rough outline of what essays I wanted to be in the book.

I pulled the first few in, and then I had to sit down and write the other 15 or so.

The roughest draft was all done using plain text files and the most bare minimum of planning. Just write.

Each day, I would sit down and write something on the book. I shot for 500+ words, but some days were a lot more, and some were a bit less.

But, I did write something every day.

After a month or so of writing I had a very rough draft in place. From there, I decided to use Scrivener to put my book together. That was a smart move as it turns out.

Once I structured everything in my Scrivener project, it was clear the book wasn’t complete.

I rearranged everything and realized I was missing some essays and needed to combine a few essays. Back to work!

Each day I kept writing and writing until I had a book that felt like it was complete. Now to edit.

I edited my book on my own because I wanted it to match the style I had in my head. My goal was brevity and absolute clarity, so I invented an editing process that works for me…

I go through the entire book cover to cover and I remove words. Then I read it to see how it feels. If I’m not satisfied, I do it again.

I believe there were at least seven rounds of editing to get the book to where I finished the book with a smile on my face. In the process of that, I cut half the words of the book, possibly more (since I added some new stuff along the way).

The final product is something I’m happy with and I still enjoy reading.

The biggest trick is to make a little bit of progress on a book every day until it’s done.


P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.