Writing A Book

I found an excellent description about what it’s like to write a book from a comment on Jack’s blog.

Fact #4: Writing a book isn’t fun.

If it doesn’t make a lot of sense to write a book for money, how about doing it for satisfaction? Many people imagine that they’d “fulfill themselves” (whatever that means) if they wrote a book; or that they’d get a deep pleasure out of the craft elements of the job. In fact, writing a book is a lot of work, and often work of a very tedious kind. It’s heavy labor, more akin to building a house than puttering in your basement. (And no one builds a house purely for the pleasure of it.) It’s certainly possible to write for pleasure and satisfaction, but seldom at that scale. Poetry, short stories, blogging — all of these can deliver fun, satisfaction, and the pleasures of craft. But writing a book isn’t something that can be done in a week or a month. It weighs on you; it’s a bear to wrestle into submission, and it’s followed by the (generally) no-fun publishing process. And then you’ve got to endure the almost inevitable commercial disappointment. Imagine going to all the trouble of building your dream house (by hand, naturally) — and then people ignore it.

So why do people do write books? I come up with these possible explanations:

  • Some hope to hit the jackpot despite the odds.
  • Some have a dream about being an author, or taking part in “literature.”
  • Some are obsessed lunatics — ie., they feel they just gotta. < -- that's me
  • Some don’t know better (these usually never write a second book)
  • Some have other ambitions, and writing a book is a step along the way.
  • A handful are determined to be trade-book authors as a career, and know what the game consists of, and have (or think they have) the tenacity, toughness, talent, luck and energy to succeed.

The book is chugging along nicely. It should be done Q1 2009. And it’s true, I get zero satisfaction from working on it. But I gotta finish.


  1. Paul October 16, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    First comment. Goodwork roosh this post didnt suck like ur usual suck posts

  2. adrock October 16, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I tried to do some fiction writing for last years NaMoWriMo and got surprisingly far, but it was such painstaking work that I never finished and haven’t revisited the material since.

    For the record, I don’t fit any of the aforementioned categories.

  3. Nina October 16, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    you know what? If the posts are that sucks, I don’t know I those people back to read and sometimes live comments, still …
    Some people are so contradictory.

  4. Benedict Smith October 16, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    i like writing, i hate editing…shocker, i know. i sometimes wonder why i work on my two novels….it is a grind like no other.

    Benedict Smith’s last blog post: Potential.

  5. Anonymous October 16, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Write a survival guide on how to survive the post 2008 American crash for fun (women) and profit (food to eat)

  6. Bobby Rio October 16, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    I wrote a book on real estate last year… was so much more of a pain in the ass then imagined it would be… no fun at all. Midway through i wanted to quit… but i finished just to finish…

    my next book was on a subject i was much more intetrested in… but it still sucks

    worse than heavy labor

    Bobby Rio’s last blog post: Elizabeth Banks from Zack and Miri Make a Porno….

  7. SeaFighterHSV October 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    You both might want to take Grammar 101 before attempting to write a book.

  8. James O. October 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Michael Allen’s “The Truth About Writing” agrees, and goes much further (hey, it’s a full-length book!). I found it fascinating and also uproariously funny (in a black way) in parts. It’s free in PDF format:


    Tip ‘o the hat to Michael Blowhard for bringing it to my attention.

    One thing left out of the above list of why people want to write a full-length book is that it can boost a guy’s attractiveness. A book that is regarded as clever or notorious, even by a tiny coterie of admirers, gives a male a leg up over the non-author competition.

  9. Ava V. October 18, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    i started a book once, at it’s longest it was 5 pages…this is when i realized i need to be famous before people want to read an autobiography…haha

    Ava V.’s last blog post: More Rhino!.

  10. Sebastian Flyte October 19, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Here is a fascinating discussion from a guy in the term paper business. http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article10100801.aspx
    For ten years he had to write one to five term papers a day on virtually every subject. Interesting point on how writing is about filling pages, not research:

    “I had a girlfriend who had been an attorney and a journalist, and she wanted to try a paper. I gave her a five-page job on leash laws in dog parks, and she came home that evening with over 50 pages of print outs, all articles and citations. She sat down to write. Three hours later she was rolling on the floor and crying. She tried to write a paper, instead of filling five pages.”

    Sebastian Flyte’s last blog post: MINDBOGGLING GAME!!!!!!.

  11. Sebastian Flyte October 19, 2008 at 7:47 am

    If you haven’t already, you should get William Zinsser’s On Writing Well – it also has a section on travel writing. Oh, and you gotta read some Paul Theroux.

    Sebastian Flyte’s last blog post: MINDBOGGLING GAME!!!!!!.

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