How I write

( below, parts of my interview to Tim Ferris, published yesterday)

On Inspiration:
“I procrastinate, check some emails … then I start. I write my books very quickly because I cannot stop.”

On Confidence: “You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have.”

On Simplicity: “What counts in a good story is the person inside. Keep it simple.”

strong>On Trust: “Trust your reader. Don’t try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination.”

On Writing:
“I write the book that wants to be written. Behind the first sentence is a thread that takes you to the last.”

On Expertise:
“You cannot take something out of nothing. When you write a book, you use your experience.”

On Critics: “Writers want to please their peers. They want to be recognized. Forget about this. Who cares? You should care to share your soul and not to please other writers who will write a review that nobody is going to read.”

On Overcoming Stagnation: “If I don’t feel inspired, I need to move forward. You need to have be disciplined.”

On Research: “If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your reader. Books are not there to show how intelligent you are. Books are there to show your soul.”

On Notetaking: “I use notes to take them out of my head. I will never use them the next day – they will be useless.”

On Story Arcs: “There are only four types of stories: love story between 2 people, love story between 3 people, a struggle for power, and a journey.”

On Style: “Don’t try to innovate storytelling. Tell a good story and it is magical. I see people trying to work so much in style, finding different ways to tell the same thing. It is like fashion. Style is the dress, but the dress does not dictate what is inside the dress. What counts is the person.”

On Notetaking II : “If you want to capture ideas, you are lost. You are going to be detached from emotions and forget to live your life. You will be an observer and not a human being living his or her life. Forget notetaking. What is important remains, what is not important goes away.”

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Comments

  1. veronika says:

    gracias, necesitaba leer este texto para seguir expresando lo que siento de forma escrita y no podía encontrar la luz que estaba perdiendo y no sabia como recuperarla gracias por que estoy volviendo a encenderla

  2. Anushka says:

    Thank you so much Sir. Respect :)

  3. Nate Teodoro, LMFT says:

    I just wanted to let you know that 2 weeks after reading this I am 3 chapters into my first non-fiction work after starting it this weekend. It is just flowing with not much thought.. I didn’t think it was possible. I believe it was subconscious, but that you in some ways inspired me to do this. Thank you.

    -Nate

  4. Chalo Leon says:

    Se publico la lista de las personas electas para asisitir a la cena en Barcelona?

    1. Paulo Coelho says:

      si. Esta en el post respectivo ( Twitter 3.000.000 )

  5. Hashema says:

    Mr. Coelho,
    This was indeed very inspiring. Writing and stories are indeed my passions.
    Thank you for sharing these amazing tips!

    -Hash

  6. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

    Dans la première phrase se trouve un fil qui vous conduira jusqu’à la dernière phrase. Suivez le fil , et ne vous arrêtez plus, Ce chemin, nous le suivrons avec vous avec délice, comme pour chacun de vos livres précédents. Ce fil tisse, ligne par ligne, une toile multicolore, qui habillera nos nuits, de rêves et d’émotions. Il est évident que les notes ne vous servent en rien, puisque tout est dans votre âme, et se déroule comme une rivière, qui de cascade en cascade, conduira jusqu’à l’Océan, dans une éclatante cataracte finale. Votre talent était en gestation depuis votre enfance, et ne pouvait que vous emporter, malgré l’avis de vos proches, et nous emporter avec vous. Continuez à nous monter le fond de votre âme, elle est si belle, qu’elle éclaire notre chemin et pour aide à retrouver la nôtre. Merci Paulo, pour vos mots, qui sont parmi les plus beaux cadeaux qu’un humain puisse donner à un autre humain, avec les baisers. Merci. MChristineG

  7. Force Tories says:

    With the greatest respect, I whole-heartedly disagree!

    There are not four different story types, there is only ONE… all human told stories must inevitably be based on the human condition – ie the struggle of good (love) over evil (fear). This is the human story and ALL stories conform to this single theme.

    Wishing you a ‘happy ever after’

  8. Glory says:

    Mr. Coelho

    Hello, nice to write this words to you, Brida is one of my favorite books, the story is very meaningful for me

    I have three stories written, all about love, before I always had the goal in write a story but I never had the inspiration until now that the words flows easily in my mind, my dream is publish at least one of that stories someday

    Thanks for the tips, read meant a lot to me

    Lot of blessings for you,

    Glory

  9. Jessica says:

    Good to have a idea to write :-) I write a diary each day …. and now I try see the read thread through it all … I surly see it …. and soon a book is born …. I hope ;-) I just have so much to do …. so I have postpone it …. now I feel it soooo important I write … its like someone is calling me to write a book *LOL*

  10. nina ramirez says:

    Veo que escribir, no es un simple hecho de redactar historias vividas, disciplina, o simple mente la investigación contada a través de la escritura,es tener el don de poder trasmitirle al lector, la personalidad del escritor a través de sus letras, es volcar sentimientos en un papel y provocar que el lector se inmiscuya de tal forma que sienta en carne viva lo que esta leyendo..Creo que eso no pueden conseguirlo todos los escritores, aunque tengan todos los atributos mencionados….El libro es el escritor y el escritor es usted
    Un beso y muchas gracias por ser Paulo Coelho.Esa es la diferencia de escribir!

  11. Oghenebumhe Tom says:

    I deeply appreciate your having to share these tips. You have always had my ear since when i read The Zahir,though getting your books is quite difficult in Abuja. Thank you so much

  12. Le Mystique says:

    Some good tips there. Gracias!

  13. Great tips..just 2 days back finished reading ‘Aleph’..have read The Alchemist, Brida and The Zahir before that. Your writing is a fusion of beauty, logic, simplicity n relativity. love it ! :-)

  14. Paulo, thank you very much for your advice and sharing with your readers and writers your wisdom. Gracias por sus consejos son tan prácticos y simples. Cómo usted dice en la simpleza se encuentra lo mejor de un escritor. Se llega al corazón y eso es lo que el lector quiere. Su blog es lo mejor.

  15. Mr Paulo;
    Allow me to share it in my blog. Hope it can be such a guide for us who write in Indonesian Literature.

    As information, i create a forum there, named Komunikasi Sastra (Literature Discussion Forum), and the tips above i sent there also, to discuss with my partner in discussion.

    Regards
    Zulfikar Akbar
    Follow: @zoelfick

    1. Paulo Coelho says:

      of course you can share

  16. Pilar Rius H. says:

    Hola, creo que la traduccion no esta muy bien realizada, sugiero depurar

  17. This may be the best list on/about writing I”ve read in a while. The point on critics is very important. I believe too many great writers are never read because they are afraid to share what they have done. They believe it isn’t good enough, or can’t stand the criticism. Every story isn’t for everyone so there will always be people that don’t like what you write – no matter how good you are. But there are also those that will benefit and enjoy your writing. We are not so different from each other, and by sharing we will always provide something to someone else.

  18. Anulal says:

    Thank you SO much for this lesson Paulo. However, let me add, the most difficult part in the life of a writer is to deny the tendency to be “reasonable or extremely logical”; in other words, note taking. It’s a temptation; hard to deny, but as you rightly suggested, once we accept this temptation, we are doomed with the bereavement of our soul in the work of art.
    Thank you,
    Much Love,
    Anu,

  19. amerdeep sanghera says:

    “Books are there to show your soul”. In that case Mr Coelho you we have seen your soul. It is beautiful and illuminating. Your words have touched my soul. Ever since I read The Alchemist (which changed my life and the way I think) I had to read all of your books. I feel your speaking to my soul, probably what many others think too, and because of that you make us all feel beautiful inside! I thankyou for your books, I thank god for you, you are truly a special person! Also, I am yet to read ‘The Aleph’, but as synchronicity (?) would have it, I keep seeing The Aleph mentioned in places and magazines! I feel The Aleph Is going to be an amazing book!

    Love and Light, Amerdeep

  20. mae ann says:

    I just love how you write and how you portray simplicity in the most complex of situations.

    I first read your book, “Like The Flowing River”. Soon after I wanted to buy all your books. Luckily, while strolling around our local bookstore, they had your set. I just finished with “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept”. I’m currently reading “The Witch of Portobello”. I have to adore how you put so much life in your story. It keeps me inspired and hungry for more. It has helped me in nurturing my soul, emotions, and dealings of the every day earthly life. I was just wondering what heaven it is you are experiencing here on earth for having been able to write all these books with so much insights and soul.

    I;m not much of a reader. I just started with yours. Thank you!

  21. Sulthana says:

    Paulo, thank you for sharing your wisdom in such profound yet simple language. I love these quotes; I’m sure most writers can relate or learn from some if not all of these little gems.

    Each one resonates with me, but especially my experience tallies with your quote that books are waiting to be written and notes are to take things out of one’s head.

  22. karin says:

    Livros sao para mostar a alma…
    Amei esta frase…
    Escrever com sentimento oriundo do coracao…

  23. Alcina Ribeiro Hamdi says:

    You are so humble… Thank you so much for that ! <3

  24. belekas says:

    Some of the quotes are just pricless :) for example

    “If I don’t feel inspired, I need to move forward. You need to have be disciplined.”

    this definetly goes not only for story writing :)

    “Books are there to show your soul.”

    this should be tought to all those anti piracy heads out there, who are trying to sell themselves

    “Forget notetaking. What is important remains, what is not important goes away.”
    This one made my day, wery good qoute :)

  25. Sebastian says:

    WOW!

    I am soooo looking forward to this new T. Ferris book.

    When two great minds, like Tim’s willingness to get the best results with the least effort (or better to say with the most concentrated, 110% efficient, goal oriented manner) & Paulo’s way to talk & share a soul, meet…. the result HAS TO BE….. a Supernova!

    Great to see such strengths meet & collaborate… I think this is what this “new Earth” should be all about…

    With Love, Joy & Consciousness,
    Sebastian

  26. Sharmeen says:

    Ur words are inspiring , the simplicity of the your language reveals an enchanting personality. I truly admire ur writings, You are awesome :)

  27. Olga says:

    Thanks for the advice, Paulo. =) These are quite helpful not just on me but to all others reading and following your blogs. So much thankful I knew you. You have a good wisdom =)

  28. Theo Ayungo says:

    Thank you for the tips Paulo. They come in handy as I embark in my writing journey.