How to write like a New York Times Bestselling author

Christopher Oldcorn
Aug 5 · 5 min read
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“Writing is a slow revelation” R.O. Kwon

Kwon worked for two years on the first twenty pages of “The Incendiaries” and threw them into the trash! She reached out to other authors for advice on how to draft her novel.

It took another eight years to finish the novel. That’s right, a decade to complete the “The Incendiaries” book!

At the 8th Family Thanksgiving during that decade, family members whispered questions to her husband when she left the room. “Is Kwon ok? She seems to be taking forever with her novel.”

Kwon has a decade of experience writing her novel. There must be writing tips we can glean from her experience.

Kwon is a fiction writer, but her tips apply to fiction and non-fiction writing.

#1 White Font Color

This piece of writing advice from Kwon, I have never heard from anyone. After each paragraph in the story, turn the font color to white.


It prevents looking at the earlier paragraphs allowing you to write faster. You cannot go back to edit and rewrite because you can’t see the words.

#2 Fast Burn Writing

Turning the font to white at the end of each paragraph helps with tip two.

Write the first draft as fast as possible. Think the paper is on fire and you must write down the story ASAP.

If you write on a laptop, it won’t catch on fire. But you get the idea.

You can rework the language, characters, and plot on the second draft. The only way to piece together longer stories is to write them and see how the characters and plot work. We need to see the whole story to figure out how to create the final product.

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#3 Typewriter

Kwon doesn’t suggest writing on an actual typewriter (but nothing’s stopping you).

A computer application called “typewriter” restricts you to only backspacing one character. This application locks the sentences and paragraphs preventing editing and rewriting.

#4 Output

“The Incendiaries” is literary fiction so you might want to aim for a higher daily word count than Kwon. She tries for 300 words per day. This word count is super small and most writers would starve to death only producing 300 per day.

Regardless, there is something to learn. Set an appropriate word count for the writing you do.

If you write mainstream fiction or Medium, you should aim for at least a thousand words.

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#5 Audience

Kwon’s advice on how to pick an audience. Don’t care what others think.

Write the book you would want to read yourself in that genre. Most people have their favorite genres, such as romance or thrillers. Think about what story is missing in that genre.

“Love characters as God would love them” R.O. Kwon

The quote is quite an enigma given Kwon leaving the church at 17 and doesn’t believe in God. She is an ex-Pentecostal evangelical who used to speak in tongues. In high school, Kwon planned to become a pastor or missionary.

If you create characters you love, your readers should love them too. Which is the most crucial part!

#6 Schedule

“Keep world away from me” R.O. Kwon

Before publishing “The Incendiaries” Kwon had no distractions. After the release, she had bookstore signings, interviews, and other promotions. Having a bestseller shortlisted for several literary book awards stretches Kwon’s time.

No longer can she inhabit the world of her novel and write when the mood strikes. She must protect her time to produce her second novel. It took her ten uninterrupted years to complete the first novel.

What does Kwon do?

She goes straight from bed to working with a quick pitstop to make coffee. It’s out of bed to writing within five minutes. She protects that time and schedules everything else in the afternoon and evening. That’s how she hits her word count each day.

Photo by Smeeta Mahanti

#7 Clothes

If you have ever seen a picture or video of Kwon, you will notice she is always wearing black.

Is she goth?

No, she heard a piece of advice from Steve Jobs who wore the same clothes every day. Why?

Frees up mental energy to concentrate on writing.

All the clothes Kwon purchases are black. No need to think about matching up an outfit each day.

#8 Five Words

The final tip is short, simple, and straightforward. Before turning the font to white, she presses enter every five words to break up the sentences. It forces her to rethink each sentence in the next draft.

Final Thoughts

I’ve read Medium stories about writing advice from Stephen King and others. I’ve incorporated some of their writing advice into my writing practice.

After watching a few Kwon readings and interviews. I realized she had great writing advice.

I hope this story helps you to be a more productive writer.

Keep Reading & Writing

Do you have a writing tip? Add it in the comments below.

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Christopher Oldcorn is a writer and journalist. He holds a BA in Psychology from Laurentian University, and a post-grad in Research Analysis from Georgian College. Christopher studied at The Centre for Investigative Journalism (Goldsmiths, University of London). Recognized as a Top Writer in Government, Politics, Books, Climate Change, Productivity, Creativity, & Writing.

You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!


Discover tomorrow’s bestsellers today. You'll say you knew them when.

Christopher Oldcorn

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A writer curious about the world. Published over 150 stories in 20+ publications. Keep in touch


Discover tomorrow’s bestsellers today. You'll say you knew them when.

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