A Book Review: How to be a Writer by David Quantick

Writers are a fascinating breed of people, aren’t they?

They come from all walks of life. From teachers, to builders, to painters, to stay-at-home mothers; each and every writer follows a different thread into the writing world, yet they are all cut from the same cloth.

How writers approach their writing is just as varied as their individual lives.

And it is this individualistic, strange creative process that How to be a Writer by David Quantick conveys with wonderful clarity.


How to Be a Writer Pic

Published by Oberon Books Ltd


How to Be A Writer is a small, fascinating collection of interviews from writers, editors, agents and all the strange people who take part in the writing world.

Each interview is prefaced by a short introduction, where Quanitck (in a casual, easy-to-read and sometimes hilarious commentary) will set up the interviewee and their achievements, as well as the scene of the interview.

The book contains large names in the writing world – Caitlin Moran, Emma Donoghue, Jon Ronson – as well as lesser known individuals such as John Panton and an accountant named Catherine Rosenthal.



Write everyday.

Write what you know.

Write something original.

We’ve all heard them. Just follow these strict (and frustratingly paradoxical) rules and you too can be a bestselling superstar! I’ve found myself falling into the trap of what a ‘real writer’ is supposed to be. 

However, after reading How to Be a Writer, you’ll find that this mystical image of the writer smashes into pieces.

Every writer in this collection is different. From how they speak about their writing, to how they conduct themselves in the act.

One might write every day.

Another might spend three weeks without a single word typed onto the keyboard.

You’ll find yourself agreeing with some authors and disagreeing with others – as you should do. After all, no two authors write the same.

The healthy debate that this book inspires, I find, is the perfect stepping point into reviewing your own creative process, looking at what you do and, better yet, how you can improve.

Throughout the book, I was joyfully led from one interviewee to the next by Quantick’s casual, straight-to-the-point writing style.

His questions are simple, yet profound – he is able to draw out the inner complexities of these writers’ lives and showcase them to you in an easy, laid back manner.

Personally, I found the interviews with Dennis Kelly and Jo Unwin particularly enlightening.

Their frankness and sometimes jaded perspective on the troubles a writer (and editor) face had me smiling throughout. (But I’ll say no more on that – you’ll just have to go read it yourself.)


Whether you’re a writer wanting to discover how others work their magic, or just a casual reader fascinated in how authors work, I can’t recommend How to Be a Writer highly enough.

This book offers powerful insight for writers and non-writers alike. It accurately captures the creative processes of each individual, showing to its readers how varied – and how utterly baffling – those in the writing world can be.


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