The following post contains a single swear, just like the title, repeated over and over. It is intended for audiences that aren’t afraid of swears. If you are afraid of swears, stop reading now, though we both know that’s just a bullshit excuse for not reading the rest of the post.

In the past I’ve seen people give the worst possible advice to authors, something along these lines: “Make sure you have a quiet, safe, comfortable place set aside in which to write, a sanctum sanctorum, a Fortress of Solitude into which the outside world would not even dare intrude. Make sure you’re always wearing the same socks, that it’s an even numbered day, and . . .”

For the love of all that’s holy, no.

If you’re a writer, you write. If you’re a writer and you’re not writing, and are not currently undergoing major surgery, you’re not writing as a result of what I lovingly refer to as a bullshit excuse.

Bullshit excuses come in many forms. “It’s not quiet enough,” is a popular favorite. “I can really only write at night,” is one I used to tell myself. That’s all bullshit, of course. If you’re a writer you can write anywhere, at any time of day, under all but the most horrendous conditions . . . or at least you should.

I once got a novel submission from a prisoner in a Texas penitentiary who told me that he can’t write very fast because the prison is very noisy, but, “I have a lot of time. I have nine years.” And you’re not writing because your desk is dusty?

Read the rest in…

Editor and author Philip Athans offers hands on advice for authors of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and fiction in general in this collection of 58 revised and expanded essays from the first five years of his long-running weekly blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook.


—Philip Athans


Follow me on Twitter @PhilAthans

Link up with me on LinkedIn

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Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.


About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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