How To!

How To Write a Bestseller

Unconventional tips from debut novelist Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

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Episode Notes

Lauren already knows the plot of her bestselling novel—the problem is she hasn’t written a word. Paralyzed by self-criticism and an earlier rejection, this former English major has spent years journaling instead of attempting the scary, difficult work of creative writing. On this episode of How To!, we turn to writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, whose debut novel Fleishman Is in Trouble, was one of the hottest books of the year. Can she help Lauren finally put pen to paper? The first thing Lauren needs to do, Taffy says, is stop journaling, and start writing. And then keep writing: “You can’t get to the good sentences if you don’t write the bad ones first.” Next, find a trusted reader, not a cheerleader, to give you honest feedback. And when doubt begins to creep in again, look at the writers you admire and simply ask, “Why them and not me?”

Do you have a problem that needs a solution? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show. Subscribe for free on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Podcast production by Derek John and Rachael Allen.

About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

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