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 can already tell that I'm going to LOVE this course! Thank you, James!

This was my first masterclass and I loved it! Jame's enthusiasm for writing kept me excited about my dreams of writing a book. Very excited to continue learning and growing as a writer and story teller


James Patterson illuminated the writing process in a compelling, approachable way. I completed my first manuscript of 77,000 words after this class!


Cameron P.

Hello all from New Zealand, finding inspiration for my creative ideas - thanks so much Masterclass and the Community!

John Paul A.

Here I go again. I purchased this course about two years back, hoping it would help. Hey, I think it's a great class. The problem is me. As an unknown published horror writer with a novel, two novellas and more shorts than I have digits I suffered block about six or seven years ago. I have tons of unfinished ideas and need to kick it in gear. One only has so many years to do this stuff. I'm going to try it again ... just set up a writing calendar to keep track of my words per day - starting with 500 and seeing how that goes.

Dale U.

One lesson in and I am already stoked! I have heard or read these pieces of advice before but James has just provided the verbal kick in the pants that I need. I already have one book published so I need to keep telling myself I've done it once, I can do it again.

Scott L.

I loved the lesson from his grandfather... great advice about having a positive attitude about life.

Frances R.

After journaling for years, I still have a hard time getting on any schedule as life as we know it in the US is extremely hectic. I feel the best time is first thing in the morning as noted in "The Artist Way, but we all juggle so much each day that maybe it's about getting it in...whenever at this point. As an extremely creative person, I do have several avenues I like to explore and I find getting on a timeline is helpful.

Paul L.

I don't have problems with focusing, my problem is I have too many things on which I'd like to focus (writing, song writing, improving guitar skills, building projects, etc.). Not to mention family, staying healthy, and a full time job. Every writing tip I've received included that you need to read (I agree). Once I get started on any of the things I mentioned, everything else gets shut out. Prioritizing might be e good topic to include.

Patti H.

I am very passionate about writing, but I do end up putting it aside because of daily life with family. I'm always writing and creating in my head, I just don't take the time to WRITE IT DOWN. I carry notebooks with me everywhere, but I never seem to have a moment to just stop for a minute and jot it down. That is going to change starting right now! James has inspired me to devote more time to what makes me happy, and that's creating stories. I always have a story unfolding in my mind. Now I'm going to give it the attention it deserves.

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