Episode 52—How to Write an 80,000-word Book in 42 Days with NYT Bestselling Author Joe Drape

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables from Joe Drape:

“We were seeing greatness. We were part of history.”

“I may not write well, but I write fast. I’m OK with that.”

“You have to figure out who you are and what works for you.”

“It’s all driven by reporting. You gotta know your stuff.”

“Sometimes 1,500 words goes to 3,000 or 6,000. Sometimes 1,500 becomes 300 and you shut your computer and go to a movie.”

“You gotta be able to eat rejection morning, noon, and night. All they can say is no.”

“This business is all about listening.”

I’m not sure where to begin if I’m being perfectly honest. Joe Drape (@joedrape on Twitter) is a New York Times sports writer and the New York Times bestselling author of Our Boys and American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner’s Legendary Rise.

He wrote the 80,000-word manuscript in six weeks without a book leave. 

How are you feeling about your productivity?

“When you say, ‘Ok, I’ve got six weeks to write 80,000 words,’ it freaks you out,” says Joe. “Sometimes 1,500 words goes to 3,000 or 6,000. Sometimes 1,500 becomes 300 and you shut your computer and go to a movie.”

I love it, baby.

Joe is the author of these six books:

American Pharoah
Black Maestro
Our Boys
The Race for the Triple Crown
In the Hornets Nest
To the Swift

In this episode he talks about how to write a book under tight deadline pressure, the power of reporting, and the power of listening. 

Thanks for listening! And if you have a moment, please leave a review on iTunes. Nine (and counting) five-star reviews! Thanks so much! 

Episode 50—Ted Conover’s Deep Dive into Immersion

Author Ted Conover. Photo by Jay Leibold

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Ted Conover:

How could I write a thesis and get out of the library?

What if I’d been a little more cautious? I probably would’ve missed out and I can’t tell you what I’d be doing today. I hate to think about it.

Experience that doubles as research is really cool.

You have to see that team spirit as a tool for learning about people.

When you take notes, you’re writing to yourself. These are notes to the person who’s going to write about this.

If the experience is the raw  material, do I have enough to create a finished product?

For the 50th episode of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, we had to go big and that’s what we did.

Ted Conover (@tedconover on Twitter), author of so many books (Rolling Nowhere, Coyotes, Newjack) including his latest Immersion: A Writer’s Guide to Going Deep, joined me to talk about why he wrote the book and how he has employed those tactics for the past 40 years.

“The research you do is determinative, right?” Conover says. “It defines what you’re going to be able to write in many ways.”

Thanks for listening. Please share, subscribe, and leave a review on iTunes.

Make a List of Validations, Not Rejections

When suiting up, never forget to accessorize.

A photo posted by Brendan O’Meara (@brendanomeara) on

By Brendan O’Meara

I’m sure you’ve heard the famous Stephen King quote about his rejection slips. The one where he said he used to hang them up by a nail, but then he needed a spike. Let’s let him say it (h/t Alex Strike):

By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.

That’s a nice image of writing in the face rejection, but who needs to see all those rejection slips? Some people are motivated by them. It’s what athletes do. When someone like Tom Brady, a winner of four Super Bowls, was drafted 199th overall, he used that as motivation. That was like receiving 198 rejections over the course of a weekend.

[Hey, if you’ve made this far, please sign up for my email list. If I post on the blog, it goes out once a week. If you sign up, you’ll be on the frontline for goodies. Thanks!]

Sometimes, though, you see those rejections and you start to believe them. You start to see them as a way out. Maybe you’re deluding yourself in whatever art you choose. The rejections are like a virus that must be purged.

I used to keep rejections. I used to like to see them pile up, but then this began to poison my thinking. If they don’t offer anything constructive, which almost none of them do, I delete them. Instead, I keep a list of validations.

These are so powerful. These are Exhibit A in of You v. Delusions, that you should KEEP GOING.

Keep a file of praise from readers (the most important, because they, you know, buy your work),  mentors (almost as important) and family/friends (don’t let this be your only validation).

It’s not stroking your ego. It’s keeping your soul alive in the dark moments when you want to quit, when you’re looking for every ounce of permission to get out of the game, when you’re looking for one person to tell you to stop deluding yourself.

There’s a fine line between a life in the arts and the delusional. Validations are tangible reasons why you keep going and keep trying to push through.