Author Harlan Coben On What Makes a Writer

  • Written By:Bobbi Brown
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Turning off that voice of doom is the hardest part of being a writer.

Harlan Coben is a New York Times best-selling author who has penned thirty novels. Not only is he an accomplished author, but Harlan is also in the New Jersey Little League Hall of Fame. In their conversation, Harlan talks about how growing up in New Jersey informed his writing style, how he stumbled into writing first book, and how he is now adapting his books into shows for Netflix. Harlan's new book, Run Away, is available now, wherever good books are sold. List to the new episode of Long Story Short here.

On what makes a writer...

It’s the only talent I have. There are three things that make a writer, the first two are obvious and the third isn’t. The first is inspiration, you have to be inspired to tell a story. The second is perspiration, you have to do the work to tell the story, you have to sit down to actually write. And the third is desperation, that is “I’m not fit to do anything else or hold a real job.”

On insecurity and success...

A lot of writers freeze up when you have a tremendous success. Running is really hard. You are always in doubt. You always hate yourself, you always think you stink. Even to this day. And it doesn’t go away. I think when you lose your insecurity you’re really in trouble. That insecurity, despite 31 books, never really goes away. And when I talk to other writers, they feel the same.

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On the hardest part of being a writer...

I’ve learned a lot that I think will help people produce pages, which is the hardest part. You have moments where you just think it sucks, we all do. You can always fix bad pages, you can’t fix no pages. If you just write, even if it stinks, you’re getting something down and you’re moving along. Turning off that voice of doom is the hardest part of being a writer.

On what is next…

I want to make more and do more. I want to get better at this. I want the books to sell more or the movie do better or the TV show to do better. Not for financial reasons, but it’s just what we do.

One the one thing you can do to make a difference…

Just do it. It’s not just the question of writing, if you want to write, sit down everyday and write a few words. That idea that you have, it will form but it's a step by step process. The first word is the hardest, the second word is the second hardest. People always look at the end, but just look at the next word. Write one word at a time.

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