Everything I Learned about Writing A Book (By Writing A Book)

In case you weren’t on this planet when I announced it previously, I wrote a book.

Check it out here for free:


Buy it on Amazon for money:


Writing a book is hard

Writing a book is really freaking hard. It’s in the top 5 hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s hard to generate so many ideas. It’s hard to sit and stare at a blank screen. It’s hard to make millions of choices. Writing a book is like painting a mural with a tiny paint brush.

Writing a book is like running a startup

Writing a book is like running a startup because I am both the CEO and the janitor. I have to make all of the big decisions (who gets married and who gets murdered) and the little decisions (like making sure my characters remember to put their pants on before going to work). I have to keep track of every moving part, steering away from icebergs, and managing scarce resources (attention, patience, and caffeine dosages). At the same time, I have to make sure that I’m wearing pants before going to a coffee shop.

I am my own worst critic

Some ideas are great, some are bunk. Most of the time, I won’t know until I see it written out. Sometimes I can’t think of a better idea, so I just go with what I have. Inevitably, inevitably, I’ll reread and think to myself, “This sentence is bunk. Oh, so it this one. Actually I can get rid of this whole paragraph. Wow all of this is terrible, maybe I should just set my laptop on fire and throw it out the window.” I don’t know of any way to distinguish between self-editing and self-doubt. It seems like a necessary double edged sword. My plan is to keep writing and eventually get comfortable with my judgement at some point.

I write like I’m building a pyramid left to right

This book had a loose outline. Most of that outline was scrapped. It was boring and didn’t make sense. I resolved to build as I went. This strategy either leaves me with a thin book because I aimed too low in scope, or a massive, unfinished epic because I aimed too high. One area I really struggled was keeping track of my own plot threads. I would introduce two plot threads, get to the end, and only be able to tie one up. I’d have to cut out the first one. But then my book was too thin. There wasn’t enough happening. I kept iterating backwards and forwards adding and subtracting plot threads. It was grossly inefficient.

Is this just like “The Matrix?”

I struggled hardcore with riding the line between totally ripping off the movie “The Matrix” and making something distinct. On the one hand, The Matrix isn’t even that unique from a story perspective. How different is it from Tron, where a computer hacker enters a computer and has to fight an evil AI? There’s even “The Matrix” in the Doctor Who storyline published in 1976. So sue me. At the same time… What have I gained by copy-pasting the Matrix? What’s it worth to read a book adaptation of the movie? And if it’s not worth reading, is it worth writing? Thus the cycle of self-doubt begins anew.

One thought on “Everything I Learned about Writing A Book (By Writing A Book)

  1. David! Your Writing a Book blog entry was extremely entertaining and well-written. Perhaps even more importantly, it shamed me for never having finished my own book, Don’t Call Me Harvey (and other things I wished I’d told my folks).

What do you think? Right? Wrong? Pure poppycock?