Here’s How Hugh Howey (Bestselling Author of Wool) Writes

Here’s How Hugh Howey (Bestselling Author of Wool) Writes

Reader Comments (25)

  1. Love it. Well, actually I hope nobody is offended, but I’ve never heard of the guy before. He has a lot of good tips though. I am a cereal fanatic myself–guess I never grew up…

    I don’t suffer from writer’s block either. It just never happens. I am blessed, I guess.

    He said his ideas come when he is on the beach; mine come when I’m on the riding lawnmower. I keep a small pocket sized pad in my pocket, and when something comes to me, BAM! I write it down. Of course, I’m never without paper, because like him, I love to write all the time.


      • Ditto to Brian’s comment. WOOL is absolutely fantastic! I couldn’t put it down (nor the sequels Shift and Dust).

        And Hugh’s own story is just as amazing.

        Thanks Kelton for the post/interview. Good stuff!

      • Brian,

        I will check it out. I do like the genre, especially if it isn’t too predictable (which happens a lot these days).



    • I was a fan of the man before I’d even read any of his work. I just didn’t read a lot of sci-fi. But then Wool happened and now I can’t stop reading, and writing. It sounds funny, but Howey is my muse – seriously. Doesn’t hurt that he seems like a genuinely nice guy too. Can you tell I’m a literary fangirl? 🙂

  2. Hi Josh (& Brian),

    This column is incredibly inspirational to us hard-working writers out there.

    As Hugh mentions, the only way (usually) to actually succeed is to write like hell . . . for awhile. If that sounds glamorous, it actually means hours of social isolation in your office and confounding the well-meaning question of family and friends: “what do you do?”

    This can wear at the soul and the self-esteem if not handled with care.

    The truth is that we struggle to value ourselves BEFORE anyone else values us with respect to the “thing” we make out of words.

    And it’s really eff-ing hard. Even when we believe in it.

    And . . . since we’re on the topic of muses, I have to say . . . my muse is yoga and dance. Something about moving the body causes the ideas to fall up.

    • I totally get it, Cynthia. Most days, I feel like a failure. Pretty harsh, huh?

      But people do ask me what I do, and I would say that I’m a writer. Then would follow their next question of, “oh, anything I’ve heard of?”

      Um, no. My name isn’t attached to most of the stuff I’ve written. Which is turning into a big problem, by the way, when starting my own company.

      So, then I have to explain what I write, “oh, I write web copy for websites.” or “oh, I write content marketing material for blogs.”

      I am then greeted by a blank stare, because people don’t get it.

      Oh well, I’ve never been understood. LOL.

      Thanks for the reply,


  3. “My name is Hugh Howey and I make up stuff for a living.”


    Ernest Hemingway is my favorite author.

    Not sure why 98% of all writers use Mac though… any ideas?

    #Kelton, it was a fun and useful interview, thank you!

    • Thanks for tuning in to the series John!

      I think a lot of creative types use Macs for their usability and apps. But I use Mac and PC, and I’m sure there are equal measure writers who only use Windows (Mr. Howey’s desktop in the photo is not a Mac).

      It is probably a coincidence that almost everyone interviewed for The Writer Files is a Mac user.

  4. I love that Hugh Howey is here on Copyblogger! I’m a huge fan of the Wool series and read the last one the day it came out. Sad it’s all over.

    I wanted to mention, Hugh is a great writer, but also an excellent marketer. This post didn’t mention it, but the way he cut a book deal, but kept the digital rights is unprecedented in the industry.

    Also, (and this is very clever) the left of his website show the progress he’s making on his various titles. So you can see how close he is to publishing the next book in each series. Anyone seen this before? Brilliant. It’s like a fiction loading bar…

    • You’re spot on about the progress bars. I remember checking the one for Dust (which I also read the day it came out) constantly as he was writing it.

      It’s also been interesting to watch the fandom and burgeoning fan-fic market grow around the Silo Saga — which is organic content marketing at its best.

    • The progress bars are smart, and I don’t think I’ve seen that before, but I’m sure we’ll see more of it.

      Also, if you didn’t catch his ingenious promotion of Dust that I to linked above:

      “Howey created a ‘cult’ object that would appeal to Sci-Fi fans: A special USB thumb-drive featuring the silo Fallout Shelter Sign, to give away to supporters who would help promote the book by spreading word-of-mouth buzz.”

      I did actually mention in the intro. that Hugh ” … achieved a feat few traditional authors have … inked a print-only contract with major publishers and retained the electronic rights to his own books (meaning all of his Amazon ebook sales are still his own).”

      This is the WSJ article link on that.

  5. Hugh Howey is very inspiring, thanks for the interview Kelton.

    Hugh’s story is, in fact, a great companion piece to James Altucher’s “Choose Yourself”, how modern times allow you to bypass nay-sayers & gatekeepers and “just do it” … letting the market to decide whether your work has broad appeal or not.

  6. “Get a dozen works under your belt…The rest can be a slow burn.”

    He’s right on that. I think more authors need the mindset of bloggers: keep churning the works out on a set schedule.

    That little bit you do here and there adds up, and it’s not unreasonable to have a book a month come out, especially if they’re non-fiction.

  7. Great post for storytellers and writers of all stripes. I love what he says about spending your time away from writing supporting your writing. We can’t write 20 hours a day. No one can. Might as well use that time to do all the other stuff that the writing life requires of us.

  8. I must assume that I’m different…really different than most writers. I like writing, some days I really like it, but I don’t think I could attach the word love to how I feel towards something that I often prefer to not do.

    If continuously thinking about writing is part of the process then I’m more involved than I admit. But having just finished my third novel and fourth book in five years I now know that I could have written ten books in that time frame had I the desire.

    The average full sized novel is about 300 pages, which translates to about 90K words. If a person writes 1K words per day thats four books per year. But I’m a 5K per day writer…when I’m writing.

    Knowing that a fourth book will be in print within a few weeks does give me something to look forward to, and I like that…but I still fall short of loving being an author.

    Maybe I’ll grow into it as time goes on, but if not, liking something to the degree where you repeat the process once per year is still a pretty nice thing.

  9. “You have to write every single day and do it for years and years. If you’re not willing to commit to that, you’ll never be great. You’ll just fill up with dreams and aspirations until they turn into regrets.”
    This applies to just about anything. Probably to everything. If you want to accomplish something, you have to put some effort into it.

  10. Kelton

    Thanks for linking to my article about Hugh’s innovative ‘Thumb Drive’ promotion. I tend to follow his marketing trickery with fascinated glee.

    Jonathan Gunson

  11. I never read sci-fiction stories. but i do like “Why the 21st Century Author is an Internet Entrepreneur”

    I never heard of Hugh Howey but after this interview, I dam sure I will purchase!!! and thanks Kelton Reid for a such a wonderful piece of information

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