Dear Sean


How do you go about writing one of your stories? What is your process like?



There are many people who can tell you more about the writing process than I can. But I’ll tell you how I do it.

The first thing to know is that writing requires brain power. And studies tell us that the human body gets its strongest surge at 5 A.M. This surge typically lasts until 5:03 A.M. Unfortunately, I am asleep during the surge and I am wholly unaware of it.

So I generally wake up exhausted at about 7:30 A.M. Then, I complain about how badly I slept the night before. When you get older, you don’t sleep as good as you used to.

My mother used to warn me about this. I would laugh at her and say “Ha ha! No way, I’ll sleep great forever! And I will always be able to eat acidic foods after six o’clock, too!”


You quit sleeping well around your thirties. And food? Once upon a time, I could eat an extra-large five-alarm beef burrito and finish the day like a caffeinated squirrel. Nowadays, if I eat one French fry I have to take a four-hour nap.

So anyway, after morning coffee, I wait for my mood to improve. I am not a morning person and never have been. My happy mood in the morning is always fake.

This is because when I was a boy I used to wake up with a bad attitude. My father took me aside once and said, “You’d better learn how to fake a good mood, or your mother’s not gonna make pancakes anymore.”

I’ve been faking good moods ever since.

When my caffeine takes effect, I go to my office. In my office, I have just about everything a writer needs to have around him. I have things like toddler toys, Superman statues, coonskin hats, my Little League glove, broken trumpets, and a taxidermied alligator wearing a Dale Earnhardt jersey.

I have these things for a serious reason. Because writing doesn’t happen when you’re writing. You have to spend plenty of time NOT writing. This act of not-writing is as important as writing.

Let me explain:

To get technical, I am talking about what scientists call, “horsing around.” This is when you wear a coonskin cap and play your broken trumpet and THINK very hard about what you’re going to write.

This thinking process is just as important as writing. Hence the alligator with the NASCAR shirt.

When I’m ready to put down words, sometimes I write on my Smith Corona typewriter. It’s an electric typewriter manufactured during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. The motor makes a whirring sound. I learned to type on a typewriter, I can’t untrain myself to use it now and then.

They’re a lot of fun. Everytime you hit a key it makes a glorious THWAP! THWAP! I think the world would have much better literature if more people used typewriters.

Because when you write on a laptop you can backspace, correct spelling, highlight entire paragraphs, delete them, order dog food on Amazon, stream past episodes of “Dancing with the Stars,” or send an email to the new Pope.

On a typewriter, your words stick to paper. Forever.

Once you’ve finished your first draft on the typewriter, now you need to get your words into a computer. I use an app on my phone.

It’s simple. All you do is take a picture of your typed pages. Then the app shows an hourglass for approximately forty minutes, and (voila!) just like magic, the app says, “Error 73840.”

Don’t get me wrong, the app is not without flaws. When it finally translates your pages, some of your words come through fine, but other words, such as the word “typewriter,” get translated as: 布特海德.

Thus, you have a mutant manuscript on your hands. Sometimes this is a real pain in the you-know-what. If the computer only changes the word “typewriter,” it’s no big deal. But when the software changes the words “the,” “if,” and “to” into “推特,” you are basically screwed.

But enough about that.

Now it’s time to edit. My policy is to edit once, then keep re-editing until I have created even more mistakes than a chimpanzee swinging a sock full of quarters at a computer keyboard.

But eventually you give up editing and learn to love your mistakes, instead of letting them make you feel stupid. Becuase part of being a writer is feeling stupid.

You put your thoughts out there and lots of people judge you. It’s hard putting yourself out there. In fact, this is the hardest part.

But don’t let that scare you because there are also nice people. Lots of them. Like a twenty-four-year-old who writes you because he wants to be a writer one day.

And even though you have no idea how to answer such a person, you put down your broken trumpet and Davy Crockett hat and decide to write something.

You fire up your electric 布特海德, and you write this kid because he reminds you of yourself. And you’d like him to know something you wish you had known long ago, which is:

If you want to be a writer, you already are.

Enjoy your sleep while you can, kid.


  1. Billie - January 13, 2023 6:24 am

    Now, this one is plum cute! And so full of good information. I guess it really appeals to me because I, too, want to be a writer. But I am not 24! I don’t think I can even remember 24! There’s a lot of other stuff I do remember, however, when I am passing time in a prone position…on my bed…in the dark…topics..,subjects…to-do lists…not-to-do lists… people…places…glad-I-did-that list…regrets…thankful for…
    Hopefully, by then, I’m nodding off. And, more often than not, one of those things sticks with me and I go to my computer the next day and add to my file, “Writing—. “

  2. Zot - January 13, 2023 6:53 am

    Good article! You fire up your electric Buthead.(布特海德) acc. to google translate 🤷‍♂️

  3. Te - January 13, 2023 7:08 am

    Being a writer is a curse. From the time you discover that compulsion, life centers around an imaginary world. The rest of our life (work, family, children, decorating the laundry room, grocery shopping, dating) becomes secondary to the plot, character analysis, edits, reworking the plot, scrapping the hero and inventing a totally unbelievable scenario – well, you get the picture. Not picture. Verbal landscape. In truth, words have always fascinated me. I own a thesaurus that was published in 1962 and held together with turquoise duct tape. (Turquoise is my fav color.) I’ve been writing since I was 15. Right after I read the complete works of Robert Heinlein, but in long-hand (the writing, not Heinlein’s books). I have an entire file drawer of handwritten manuscripts that predate computers. Ant this doesn’t even approach the necessary that writing also takes a liberal dose of mind-altering drugs. Pick your poison. That’s to tune out the traffic, TV, kids screaming at each other (or the TV), and the demands of domestic life. How else can anyone bloody-well concentrate! And forget getting published! That’s a hell hole of self-flagellation that surpasses group therapy! In short, being a writer is hell on earth – and I wouldn’t — actually, couldn’t! — do anything else! God help me!

  4. Julie Hall - January 13, 2023 11:35 am

    Beautiful encouragement!!

  5. Anne Arthur - January 13, 2023 11:45 am

    I didn’t know you were my twin; sleep, French fries, morning grumpyness, fake smiles, and wringing hands what to write… the whole works. Keep going. It’s hilarious to read.

  6. Ann T - January 13, 2023 11:46 am

    It worked. Great essay.

  7. Tim - January 13, 2023 11:52 am

    Holy Shite?!?
    Or is it
    Wholly Shite?!?

    God All Might He

    Might say ….

    Wholly Good.

    Wholly Ghost.

    This 1 was good.

    The rest were Shite

  8. Dolores - January 13, 2023 11:57 am

    Like any God-given gift, you can’t NOT write. So just write and pray for His guidance. Know it takes practice and refinement, so don’t expect to begin at the top. Don’t seek fame or self-glory.

    Let your own voice be the one that’s heard. Don’t mimic another writer no matter how much you admire them. Be original and authentic.

    When your work is in the public eye it will be scrutinized, sometimes not favorably. Consider the source: ask yourself do they want my best. Don’t be discouraged but also be open to constructive criticism.

    Some who’ve ‘made it’ wish to pass the baton: look for their workshops.

    Best wishes.

    • Susie - January 13, 2023 2:01 pm

      Dolores, Sean obviously doesn’t need any workshops. He could LEAD one.

  9. Tim - January 13, 2023 12:06 pm

    Sew Then
    A needle pieced the fabric of space & time.
    A needle in a haystack
    A needle on a record player
    A Stylist
    A style exist(ed or s)

    Write or Wrong
    Write a Song
    Write the song of your life.

    That said…

    Just make sure that you got good WIFI.

    Because …

    Happy WIFI =
    Happy Life I lead

    • Steve Winfield(lifer) - January 13, 2023 3:47 pm

      Stylist or Stylus?

  10. Randall Watford - January 13, 2023 12:11 pm

    Thanks for this. I read this while sitting next to my almost 4 year old and laughed out loud!
    This brightened my morning. Thanks for what you do Sean.

  11. Michael Stransky - January 13, 2023 12:36 pm

    you aint right but i love reading you so you reckon i am??

  12. Greyn - January 13, 2023 12:40 pm

    Good advice, I think, to 24yo. You might have mentioned conecuh sausage just for the good of the order. “Behaving as if” a powerful tool across several dimensions.

  13. mccutchen52 - January 13, 2023 12:47 pm

    Remember to punctuate. My eighth grade teacher told me to read what ever I was writing out loud and see if I could do the sentence in one breath because it would mean the difference between a C and an A so I guess I didn’t punctuate because I kept making C’s so remember to punctuate.

  14. DeDe Harris - January 13, 2023 12:49 pm

    Love this!!! Great job!!

  15. j - January 13, 2023 12:53 pm

    Amen. Totally the best way to write anything. 🙂 Being still, or even just quiet, and noticing the little things around you without the jangle of a cell phone or the chatter of human life, an ideas will sometimes just come rushing in, sometimes it just stays quiet. Life is an adventure, remembering it and just talking like your talking to a friend is where some of my best writings come. 🙂 Thanks Sean. Totally agree and I could type faster on my old typewriter than I can on my computer. :-))))))) Keep writing no matter who you are, or what you are doing. ye haaaaa.

  16. Susie - January 13, 2023 1:56 pm

    Sean, you must have written this one at 5:01 am. It’s FRIGGIN AWESOME. WOW

  17. Cate - January 13, 2023 2:12 pm

    Dear Sean: My goal in life was definately NOT writing. That said, I am told I write very well. Many years ago when our son was being treated for cancer (Nasal Pfarangeal Carsinoma of the fossa of rosenmueller) I went to Texas to be his caregiver. To keep people back home informed of what was going on, I wrote an email every week. Some folks asked me to do a blog. At that time and perhaps still now I had no idea what a blog was so I just kept on sending emails. One of my friends who had been an English Literature teacher in our local high school read those emails and has been after me to put them into book form and get them published. I have done some editing on them but that is as far as I have gotten. For whatever reason, I am just not motivated to complete the process. I think the descriptive word here for my inability to complete might be “lazy!” So to some degree I completely understand your needing distactions to begin writing. In my case “life” has been my distraction and it just keeps getting in the way. If I knew and was close with an author, I would have sent what I have off to him/her and asked them to finish. I do enjoy your columns and look forward to them each day. Thank you for starting my day with joy whether joyful smiles or tears. By the way in your paragraph about editing there is a typo; becuase.

  18. David - January 13, 2023 2:29 pm

    Good advice!

  19. JonDragonfly - January 13, 2023 2:49 pm

    Tim is a poet,
    who don’t know it,
    but his feet show it,
    They’re Longfellows.

  20. Joe - January 13, 2023 2:57 pm

    This was fun to read! Thank you.

  21. susanmac123 - January 13, 2023 3:32 pm

    This one made me smile.

  22. jerrywipf - January 13, 2023 4:04 pm

    You, sir are funny as 布特海德. Thanks for always making me smile.

  23. kingswaydaughter - January 13, 2023 4:04 pm

    Your second to the last sentence is spot on, “If you want to be a writer, you already are.” But there are different types of writers. Your writing is gloriously prolific and easy reading. I could never write like you, but a business letter that gets to the point with documentation and facts….well, my husband said I missed my calling as a lawyer. No, I could never be that because I would never turn my brain off long enough to sleep.

  24. Ann - January 13, 2023 5:31 pm

    Cate, I may be wrong but I think Sean did that on purpose.

  25. Buddy Caudill - January 13, 2023 6:08 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for being an encourager to not only this aspiring writer, but to many other folks, such as I.

  26. Randall Kemp - January 13, 2023 6:27 pm

    Fun article, 布 thank布 y特u for you海 ama德zing writing布.

  27. Ron - January 13, 2023 7:56 pm

    You often mention people sending an email. How does someone get your email address?
    Regards, RDC

  28. Joan Mitchell - January 13, 2023 8:43 pm

    Thank you thank you for making me laugh even though I spent all morning at Lake Martin looking at the million trees that fell around my house. Lake Martin is now the Golden Goose for all tree men in the Southeast. I wish you would post a photo of yourself in your coonskin hat, holding your broken trumpet and your alligator. I need to keep laughing.

  29. MAM - January 13, 2023 9:36 pm

    I’m convinced the “becuase” was intentional, because I too often type that word in exactly that order. The fingers get mixed up. I never knew I was a writer until I started writing, and so I guess I am.

  30. Mary - January 14, 2023 11:10 am

    Really good one Sean! Still 😂

  31. Ruth Ann Hines - January 14, 2023 11:16 pm

    I was receiving your articles on my phone and also on my computer. All at once I don’t receive any at all! Please help me. I dearly love reading your “stuff: ! ! !

  32. Stephanie - January 15, 2023 6:42 pm

    You are the best! This is a great piece of inspiration.inspiration.

  33. Barbara - January 16, 2023 4:57 pm

    Love your work.

  34. Stephen Shields - January 21, 2023 3:16 am

    Sean love listening and reading your works. Thanks for bringing a much needed spark of reality to everyone’s lives… it’s such a lost art! Glad to have you around – please don’t go anywhere!


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