066: How to Write Fiction for a Living: Interview with Stacy Claflin [Podcast]

Major feats seem absurd until you break them down into tangible increments. For example, writing a book feels impossible until you reduce it to a simple daily habit.


If you write just 500 words each day for a year, you end up with 182,500 words. Considering the average Harry Potter novel is roughly 127,000 words, you’re not all that different from J.K. Rowling.

This week on The Portfolio Life, prolific fiction writer Stacy Claflin and I talk about her writing process and the journey to becoming a full-time novelist. Listen in as we discuss the details of self publishing fiction and how Stacy writes a book a month.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

Myth of the magic pill

The process of becoming a full-time writer rarely makes for good television. Each episode would feature a lone actor sitting at a desk typing for an hour. The only variety provided for viewers would be occasional sips of coffee or a bathroom break.

Exciting stuff, huh?

Writing for a living is much less romantic than Hollywood leads us to believe. In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character takes a magic pill and cranks out a book that’s plagued him for years in a matter of hours. If only it were that easy.

It’s common to think the creative life involves ditching your day job and embracing inspiration whenever strikes. Reality, though, isn’t quite so romantic.

One of the things I found fascinating about Stacy’s story is her dedication to her craft while juggling competing priorities. She showed up every day to write while running a daycare business and homeschooling her children. She didn’t leap without a parachute — she built a bridge, one book at a time.

Show highlights

In this episode, Stacy and I discuss:

  • Where her creative journey began
  • The value of finishing a story at the right time
  • Discovering a connection with people through writing
  • Creating one of the first serialized stories distributed via email
  • Navigating the tension between pure creation and writing for an audience
  • Transitioning from a personal development blog to vampire novels
  • How to launch a series of fiction on Amazon
  • A nifty trick for avoiding writer’s block
  • The secret to prolific daily writing
  • Balancing home, work, and life while pursuing a passion
  • Why even fiction writers need an email list
  • Determining when to step into writing as a full-time vocation
  • Why fiction writers need a platform before they publish
  • Prioritizing a writing practice to create a mountain of content

Quotes and takeaways

  • When we create something and keep it hidden, the art is not fulfilling it’s purpose.
  • Don’t carbon copy what other people do. Try to imitate and iterate.
  • “Respect the boundaries of a genre, but try to stand out and be different from the rest.” —Stacy Claflin
  • Build a bridge to your dream job instead of jumping off a cliff.
  • Figure out what you want to write, start an outline, decide to write every day.


This week, we’ve re-opened the ever-popular Tribe Writers course, of which Stacy and 3000 other writers are a part. To get the attention your writing deserves, check it out.

What did you learn from this interview? Share in the comments.