Writing projects: the patience of a saint, or of a sinner?

Some writing projects take a monumental moment or sixty … but are still worthwhile! Patrick Forsyth, author of “Empty When Half Full” which I reviewed previously, explains…

Getting a new writing project is good, and most of us just want to crack into it; the sooner it’s done, the sooner we get paid. But sometimes … a while ago I saw a notice saying “it is dangerous to cross this bridge when this notice is under water.” We all see such things sometimes and smile. This time I saw several more examples before I had forgotten it, including a brand of crisps (potato chips) claiming to use Real Ingredients (what else?). I had a fancy that enough similar things might, linked together in the right way, make a book.

I collected examples for more than two years. Doing so took no great amount of time and was fun to do. Most were written by those either trying to sell us things or from government bodies and the like. Some were absurd: like a prescription sleeping pill marked: “Caution: may cause drowsiness.” Others were downright dangerous (imprecise dosage information) or, dare I say, designed to mislead people into buying something.

The ultimate acid test with a book: can you get a publisher to do it?

So I decided it should be written up in a way that, whilst maximising the humour, also mocked or castigated those involved. I approached four publishers with the idea. Three said no; one gave me a contract within a fortnight. I wrote the book and it was published, as “Empty When Half Full” in time for Christmas (it would make a good present; indeed I have already received many orders for multiple copies). It seems to be off to a good start; one reviewer has called in “Hilarious!”

Now I knew when I started that file that it was not going to be a quick project; though examples abound (be careful!) and mounted up quite quickly. I had to collect sufficient material, but I was confident it could work out and pleased when a publisher took it up quickly when I was ready to write it. Now we will see how it goes. Recently I gave a talk (about another activity – my travel writing) and contrived to read out 3 pages of “Empty When Half Full.” The whole room laughed out loud and I sold a reasonable quantity of books there and then.

Income from writing isn’t immediate … or even there at all….!

Perhaps the moral is to be observant, look for – or create – ideas that will sell and not reject anything that might be profitable just because the return is not immediate. The trick after all is to have enough money coming in each month, regardless of just when the initiative that produced it took place. Some things cook quickly as it were, others need more time.

Then of course they need pushing. Copies of “Empty When Half Full” are available at £9.99 on Amazon, or you can order one at a lower price from me (and I’ll sign it, wow!) contact details on my website www.patrickforsyth.com or (if you’re in the UK) send a cheque for £8.99 to 28, Saltcote Maltings, Maldon Essex CM9 4QP

Hear, hear, Patrick. That book is cool – you guys will love it!

Now, the help you need for your writing projects:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published




  1. Sarah Arrow says

    I think it’s a fabulous idea for a book and I’d by it if I wasn’t on a book ban (over 100 unread) means I am forbidden to get new Ones 🙁

  2. Sounds a great book – I can’t wait to get hold of a copy!

    Also, I like the idea that some books take time and can’t just be written over night. You’ve given me a great idea …