Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Write Your Best Book: Part Four (Beyond the Launch)

There’s a difference between an author and a writer. An author is someone who published a book at least once. A writer is someone who continues to write and publish, cultivating a writing life. But how do you know what to write about, and when to start your next project?

How to Write Your Best Book: Part Four (Beyond the Launch)

If you’re a writer for longer than five hours, you know that writing isn’t for the faint of heart. As William Zinsser said in On Writing Well:

If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.

Which isn’t to say writing isn’t fun or rewarding, which it is, but it’s no stroll on the beach either. When the research is finished, and the argument is finessed, writing the fifth, sixth, and seventh draft becomes a slog.

It’s in this phase, where the work of writing is done, that new inspiration often strikes. If you don’t have a place to put them, these ideas can distract you from your prize. If you lack a system of capturing moments when the Muse visits, you won’t have any material to work with in the future.

In this final installment of the How to Write Your Best Book series, Marion Roach Smith joins us on on The Portfolio Life to talk about when to start writing your next book, the importance of cultivating a writing life, and how to ensure you have a writing future.

Listen to the podcast

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


Show highlights

In this episode, Marion and I discuss:

  • What it means to build a writing life
  • Pre-requisites for having a writing future
  • The folder every writer needs
  • How to handle new ideas in the middle of writing your book
  • Dealing with boredom while writing
  • The parallels between writing and dating
  • When to start writing your next book
  • How writing books is like growing up
  • Moving onto the next project as a means of preserving personal sanity
  • A rubric for deciding what to write about next
  • The value of calling yourself a writer and an author
  • Leaving it all on the battlefield once you’re done writing a book
  • How to identify future market trends
  • A soul-searching question every writer simply must ask themselves
  • Who to send your “vomit draft” to
  • Three questions every agent and publisher asks
  • Lifting your sights to the next ideas and getting someone else’s eyes behind them
  • How to hop genres while preserving your personal brand
  • Enjoying a full-funded curiosity
  • Learning new skills in order to switch genres
  • What to read so that you know what good writing sounds like

Quotes and takeaways

  • “You want to have a writing life, not just one book.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Be hospitable to your writing life.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “You’re not in complete control of your book launch.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Listen to what your agent says.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “There are no end of people online who don’t know what they’re talking about.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Read over your head.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Be respectful of your craft and learn it.” –Marion Roach Smith


Where do you capture new ideas? How soon do you start writing a new book? Share in the comments

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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