Passion + Habit

James Patterson

Lesson time 8:36 min

Getting into the proper mindset is an essential first step to writing a best-seller. This lesson explores James's secrets for staying focused, productive, and motivated.

James Patterson
Teaches Writing
James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.
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Somebody said you're lucky if you find something in life that you love and then it's a miracle if somebody will pay you to do it. And I think that's what ideally you want to move toward. That you found something you love, and you know, look, when you start doing this, if you don't love it, you're not going to finish the book. You're not going to finish the outline. And that's OK. That's telling you that's not what you're going to do. You have an interest in it, you like it, but you're not that passionate about it. If you are passionate about it, you can't help yourself. You've got to write that outline. You've got to write that book. The great thing about Vanderbilt was I had a professor there by the name of [? Solomon ?] and he said you are very, very good. You can do this. You can be a novelist. Practice, practice, practice, practice. And through this period I was reading 10 to 12 novels a week, I swear to god. Novels and plays. I was reading everything I could get my hands on. I was scribbling everything I could. At one point I went up and I stayed a week in a Trappist monastery, just thinking about my vocation and whether I could do this thing. And you know, the Trappists have this silence thing which was kind of weird but it was also very cool in terms of really focusing. Is this what I want to do with my life? Do I want to be a writer? Can I do it? And I really came out-- it was a life changing thing for me-- I came out of there going, I'm going to go for this. You know, once again, passion. No, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it. I get a job in advertising. I knew I had to go to work. I was getting up at 5:00 in the morning to write. I didn't really want to get up at 5:00 in the morning, but that was the only place I could fit it in. I would fit in a couple hours. But when I was writing The Thomas Berryman Number, it really was that sort of 5:00 to 7:00 in the morning. And I did have to force myself, just because I didn't want to get up at 5:00. It wasn't that I didn't want to write the book, I didn't want to get up at that time. But I did it every day. I really think it's useful to get into that and do not sit there like, oh, I don't feel like it today. I don't feel like it tomorrow. Feel like it. Do it. Force yourself, even if it's half an hour. And half an hour isn't enough. Try to at least figure out an hour, somewhere. On the train, before you go to work, get up earlier. When you come home, before dinner, after dinner. You're going to have to figure out when it's going to be comfortable for you to do it. But I think it's really, really useful to get into that discipline. It's like any other habit, running. Once it becomes a ritual, a routine in your life, you don't even have to think about it so much. And then hope...

Set out to write a best-selling book

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade. In his first online writing class, he guides you from the start to the finish of your book.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I love James's candor and humour. One of my main take-aways is the importance of a proper outline to guide the writing process. Normally I'd have a few scenes plotted and a general idea of where I was headed, but after trying an outline on a short story I can definitely see it's benefit.

The class is very helpful and I am using the outline technique.

Love the fact we are face to face with Mr. Patterson. Makes it easy to listen to and become engaged. I enjoyed it very much. Looking forward to more!

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to James Patterson's video lessons. I liked the conversational aspect. The lesson plan and worksheets were detailed and informative. I would highly recommend this class to writers of all levels and stages of their careers.


Kenyatta L.

If you don't love what you do, you will hate doing to work. Be honest and true to yourself if this is something you really want to do and it's okay if it's not.

Ashleigh H.

I love that he states that the passion is essential, but that alone won’t guarantee productivity. Self-discipline is CRITICAL for creating a productive writing habit. Setting aside that time no matter what and letting the folks in your life know that “Hey, I’m absolutely writing during this set amount of time and I’m not to be disturbed.” That’s awesome. I love that he’s giving us permission to do this :)

Joey L.

This video was exactly what I needed to hear. Practice everyday and get into the habit of writing. Don't give up. Very useful information.

A fellow student

I liked the fact Mr. Patterson speaks to staying passionate. I try to write 1500 words a day. For me, it does not feel like work. Once I get started I write with purpose and intense fervor. I go back the next day to clean it up and make it more readable(if that is a word) instead of like a dialog. I do love it.

Kenya S.

Im really excited about this one. I’m new to fiction writing and looking forward to learning the process.


I'm doing a 100 words for 100 days challenge. It's really helping me get into the habit of writing every day.

Jen S.

I do have lots of passion! Since I do so much, however, it's hard to find enough hours during the day! But I wouldn't have it any other way!

Jessica T.

My writing time is usually late at night, thanks to having two jobs. I have to make myself stop and go to sleep (which I don't get enough of). I itch to get back to it. Just this morning, I was up until almost three working on an outline. I SO love it.

Sarah B.

Every day isn't always realistic for me due to eye problems, but it's not hard for me to get passionate about writing when there are no barriers, and it is still important to develop a habit. I try to write every day before and after work. I've also found it helps when I am struggling to start to set a twenty-minute timer. The first I write about my goals, the second I free-write, the third I will work on an actual project. (Usually by the third time I'm ready to go longer than twenty minutes.) Dropping a project, even for the best of reasons, makes me struggle with momentum. I was working on a few different story ideas and then I realised on my way to the United Kingdom that these stories all belonged in the same world, just radically different times. Rewriting to make it fit has been difficult.

Julia B.

Thank you, I enjoyed. I can relate to his comments regarding developing a habit and enjoying the experience. In fact, I began writing my first book simply for my own pleasure. Writing still makes me very happy.