You want to write a book? - New York Times Bestselling Author, J. Sterling

You want to write a book?

I can't even begin to tell you how many emails I get from various people who tell me that they want to write a book. (this also happens in person A LOT. and I do mean, a.lot.) They all ask me the same questions... do I have any advice for them? What should they do? How should they begin? etc, etc.

I honestly NEVER know what to say. Basically, the only thing that comes to my mind is- sit your ass down and start. I don't know what to say beyond that. Writing isn't necessarily something that you plan from start to finish like a meeting with bullet points (although maybe for some writers it is). Things start to evolve as you write... characters take on their own personalities and want to do their own things... where you thought your story was headed may completely change direction. You have to be flexible. You have to be willing to deviate from your plan. You have to let your story grow branches, sprout leaves, become this beautiful tree with roots and depth and strength that you didn't anticipate or plan for.

Writing a book is hard work. It's not easy. It's freaking torture at times. You will want to rip all your hair out. You'll be so in love with your story and your characters one minute, and think it's the most boring, piece of shit story you've ever read the next. There will be times that you'll feel like if you have to read one more word of your story ever again, you will throw your laptop off a bridge. You'll get stuck. You'll have writer's block. You'll get frustrated. You'll be on the most beautiful, flowing roll ever and then something will happen to interrupt you. And no matter how hard you try to get that groove back once the distraction is over, you won't be able to. To write a story, any story, becomes a very personal journey. And that personal journey suddenly becomes extremely public when you hit the publish button.

I know that it seems like everyone and their mother f'n dog is writing a book these days. And they're hitting best seller lists and getting publishing deals, etc. And so I know that there are some of you who want to cash in on that. You think that it's a get rich quick scheme. I'll write a book and then i'll be rolling in the dough! If that's you, please do us all a favor and don't bother. I'm not kidding. Trust me when I tell you that writing and self publishing is NOT a shortcut to fame and fortune. If you want to get rich quick then play the lottery. There is nothing quick about self publishing. And more than likely, you will not get "rich" doing it. At least not right off the bat. You'll be lucky if you make enough money to cover your editor and cover designer.

I started writing because I had a story that wouldn't leave my head. As my time working for someone else neared its end, that story called to me louder and LOUDER. It was all I could think about until I started writing it. And at the time, I honestly thought I just had this one story to tell. And I used to joke around and say, "who the hell just writes ONE book??" But I wrote anyway- because it called to me. And once I started writing that book, it was like I opened this floodgate of creativity within me. Suddenly, I had a whole bunch of ideas for stories I wanted to write! And I feel blessed to have found something I truly enjoy doing. But I followed my heart (NOT dollar signs). And it's led me here.

I think the best advice that I can give to anyone considering writing a book is:
Don't write for the wrong reasons. You should want to write a book because you have a story, or an idea that won't let you go. You feel passionate about the story you want to tell. You're driven to write. Writing feels like a part of extension of who you are.

And if that sounds like you, then I say go for it! Write that book!  And good luck!

But if you're one of those people who wants to write for all the wrong reasons, I suggest you look elsewhere. People will see through your intentions.

Being an author is about trudging through the hard times. Writing when you don't think you can write anymore. Pushing through the roadblocks in your story because you're determined to find an outcome. And writing new stories when you've just finished your last one.

We don't write for the money. We write because we're passionate about the stories we tell and we want to connect with people through our words.  We love what we do, even when it's frustrating, hard and tear inducing.

We don't write simply because we can.
We write because we simply can't imagine NOT writing.



  1. I love your post!! :))) One day I hope that I'll write a book but I'm not sure I'm ready for it yet. Or maybe I just don't have the right idea yet!

    1. :) :) :) you'll know when it's right.

  2. I LOVE this! I am working on my first novel right now, and I have to say this is exactly how I feel. I don't expect to make any profit off of my books (this first one or any after,) but the point is that I LOVE to write and this story will not leave my brain. I think about it, dream about it, and I always have to stop what I'm doing to jot something down about my characters because I'm always thinking of them.

    Thanks for posting this. I know I have a tough road ahead because up until now I've only ever written short pieces of fiction and non-fiction so I'm excited/nervous for all that's coming.

    P.S. If people love me half as much as they love you, I'll be happy. :)

    1. P.S. For any other writers/readers who want to follow me on this crazy journey of writing my first book, you can see my blog here: :)

    2. it's good that you go into it with this mindset. it can't be about the money to begin with. it just can't. it has to be about something that means MORE than that, you know? best of luck to you! :)

  3. "Don't write for the wrong reasons."


    Thanks for this post.

    1. i KNOW you KNOW what i'm talking about!! if more people followed their hearts instead of dollar signs- we'd be a happier world. :) xo

  4. Anonymous4:40 PM

    This was awesome! Loved it and couldn't agree more! <3
    Emmy M.

  5. I got chills when you mentioned opening the floodgates of creativity. That's how it happened for me, too :)

  6. So true! Today people were talking about what they would do if they won the lottery and many said they'd quit their jobs. I'd still be writing. :)
    Great post!

  7. Anonymous5:21 PM

    I am so happy to read this! It is so honest and has better advice than half of the emails I have gotten back from other published authors. Thanks for sharing! : )

  8. Such great advice. I am currently writing my story. I was sexually abused as a child and I know so many people who have been and how it can keep you from being happy, but I want my story to show them that we can turn something awful into something great. My story is about strength, healing, and the power of forgiveness. I don't care about the money, I just want my story to lift someone, who's been through this kind of pain, up.

  9. i love it wow so true just sit and write your heart out....