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.

This was fascinating from the get-go. Each lesson was so helpful on numerous levels. One of the best courses!

I like the insight I'm gaining from the teachings thus far.

Great stuff. His discipline shows. A lot of inspirational words about breaking into the industry.

Loved this class. I will probably watch it again at some point. Mr. Patterson is down to earth and inspiring. Thank you.


Kelly G.

". . .through this period I was reading 10-12 novels a week." That's what I call a Pro Tip. Mr. Patterson just bundles it into a greater point about seeking clarity on writing as a profession, but copious reading feeds a writer's soul and builds a skillset of vocabulary, phrasing and story architecture like nothing else can. I just put 3 new novels on my nightstand and I'm going to bed an hour earlier to make time for more reading. I may even be rested enough for some of those 5:00 am writing sessions.

Primwatee G.

Thank you for reminding me how long I've wanted to be a writer. Somewhere along the way I gave up, but after listening to this class, I've started writing again. My deepest gratitude.

Freddy L R.

Creatively it seems like my mind never rests. However, I have narrowed down my focus as to my daily writing schedule. This is perfect timing, as I am now writing the tenth chapter of my new novel. Truly looking forward to learning and growing as a writer. What a great way to do so by learning from my favorite author, Mr. James Patterson. Happy writing everyone! Freddy L. Robinson

joseph M.

so hard to get to a point where I can write regularly - but this was inspirational and gives me more fuel to get there.

Freddy L R.

I truly love this lesson! For me, it's an inspiring wake-up call. I've made it a point to start writing Monday through Saturday, from 8-9:30 in the morning. For some reason, I've been waking up with my creative wheels turning at around 7:30. So, I just started going with the flow, and I've written the Prologue and first five chapters of my new book. Loving it, and I'm excited about it with great passion. Happy writing everyone! Freddy


I love that you need that discipline to write each day. I find that hard at times, sitting in front of the computer each day and write. It's one reason I decided to take this course.

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.