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.

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

  1. Thanks so much for the interview, Jeff! I had a great time. I hope the tips help some of your listeners. 🙂

    If anyone has questions, I’ll keep an eye on the comments and be sure to answer!

  2. Stacy it’s so inspiring to listening to your journey! By the way, I’ve just finished reading Deception – blog post about it soon 🙂 And it’s really good to know that many (probably all) of the things we are learning through Tribe Writers can be applied to fiction writing too.

  3. Stacy, I agree with everyone else. Your interview was inspiring. I doubt that I could maintain a 3,000-words-per-day pace, but that’s just me. I am curious about one thing, however. Do you write seven days per week, or do you take a day or two off somewhere in there? I would find myself needing to take a break at least once per week, but we’re all different.

    1. Hi Peggy. Thank you! It takes time to build up a daily word count. When I had a day job, more 2k a day was a good day. Start with where you are and try for 50 to 100 more words the next day. Or whatever increase is doable for you. (I share some of my writing-fast tips here: https://stacyclaflin.com/2014/03/12/why-you-arent-writing-more/ )

      I definitely take a day off each week to rest and let my mind relax. In fact, I’m thinking about taking the entire weekend off if I can hit a certain word count during the week. Some people write every day, saying that even missing one day interrupts their flow, but that isn’t the case with me. I need the breaks!

  4. Hi Stacy, your interview has got me excited about writing fiction again thank you. When you said about the outline of the story do you simply plan beginning middle and end or do you have a specific process?

    1. Hi Danny,
      I’m so glad to hear it! 🙂 When *I* outline, it’s pretty bare bones, just jotting down the major plot points. I like to fill in the majority of the story while I’m writing. There are many methods. Some people like to write out a few paragraphs detailing each chapter, others start in the middle or at some other point. It seems like there are nearly as many methods as there are writers! I’ve heard of one called the snowflake method that’s pretty popular. Whatever works for you is what works. 🙂 Browse Amazon or google outlining methods, and you’re sure to find lots of ideas! Or, just sit down with a pen and paper and see what comes naturally! There is no wrong answer.

  5. Thanks Stacy for being honest and sharing..Iam very slow at the Moment, hope i can emulate the Kind of writing Spirit you have .

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