If you want to say/convey you are working on a book/paper, what is the correct way of saying so other than plainly saying I'm writing a book?

I noticed 'under writing' has a specific meaning and cannot be applied here. I also thought about, under composition (composing?) but I'm not sure if that's the correct term.

I'm writing an email to a possible colleague, and I want to sound formal and not too generic. that's why I'm asking this.

By the way, if it's not clear, from where I got the idea for under+ing, it came from 'under construction'.

  • Why the secrecy? Especially with a possible colleague. If you’re working on a book or paper say so. It doesn’t sound like the start of a healthy relationship.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 4:13
  • what about it? there is no secret here. He knows about it. I'm just asking about a term that I can use and sound formal. that's it.
    – Breeze
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 4:15
  • Oh, it sounded to me like you didn’t want to say you were writing a book.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 4:17
  • 1
    "I'm currently doing a project on that." Avoids "writing" at the expense of getting a little bit stiff.
    – Wayfaring Stranger
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 5:32
  • 1
    You could say that you're "in the process of writing" a book.
    – ralph.m
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 7:46

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you're looking for a verb/phrase which can be used in a passive voice (which often sounds more formal and detached). In this sense, the direct equivalent of "under construction" for writing would be "being written":

My book is being written at the moment.

However, since people don't usually use this sort of construction regarding something they're writing themselves, this could run the risk of sounding like "your" book is actually being written by somebody else. Another phrase which sounds a bit less like this might be "in the process of being written":

My book is in the process of being written.

But you might want to be careful because using "in the process" in a passive voice like this can sometimes also give the impression that it's a long process which may not be completed any time soon (which is good if that's what you actually mean, but not if it isn't).

If that's not what you want, then perhaps the best choice may be a combination of "in the process" but used in an active voice, which gives it more immediacy, but is still not as blunt as the original:

I am in the process of writing a book.

Regarding the other possibilities you mentioned, you are correct that "under writing" is not commonly used for this and is likely to be mistaken for "underwriting" (one word), which means something very different (having to do with financial contracts, etc). "Under composition" would actually also be a technically correct option, but may sound a bit strange (or overly formal or dramatic) to some.


to pen Vocabulary.com

produce a literary work

As in:

Dear X; As you are aware, my book is under the pen and I would ...


Dear X; As you are aware, my book being under pen and paper, I desire your ...


Human editors at Amazon pen many of the answers. ReutersDec 21, 2018


Mattis then penned a fairly pointed resignation letter the following day. FoxNews Dec 21, 2018

  • 1
    From your own link, "under the pen" means undergoing revisions, not necessarily "being written". Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 16:17
  • 1
    being revised means not being written?
    – lbf
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 16:21
  • being revised is a particular stage of the writing/editorial process, but if you were, for example, writing the first draft, then "under the pen" might imply you're further along in the process than you actually are. Also note that "penning" as a verb is not very commonly used anymore and may have a bit of an anachronistic feel to it for many readers.
    – Foogod
    Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 0:39

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