Harlan Coben on writing, productivity, and insecurity

The thriller writer Harlan Coben has some free advice for anyone who cares to ask: “If it produces pages: good. If it doesn’t produce pages: bad.”

“I keep changing places. Most writers have a set routine, a set place. My routine is to not have a routine.”

While one of his sons was in high school, Coben spent six months writing at a Stop & Shop deli counter with a coffee stand next to it. “I came home smelling like olive loaf,” he said, but the pages were good. For his book “The Stranger,” he spent three weeks taking Ubers everywhere he went because he found he was writing well in the back seat. He finished the book that way.

“I like to ride a horse until the horse collapses, and then I look for another horse,” he said.

“It does not get easier … “Every book I write, I still say, each time, ‘This book sucks, and the one I did before was great. How did I lose it?’ And then five minutes later, I’m like, ‘This book is great!’” he said. “All that insecurity goes on and on and on. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I think when that goes away, it’s probably time to stop.”

Harlen Coben, interviewed by Elizabeth J Harris in The New York Times.

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