This quote was originally written by an entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant. Does it mean you have to be a good story teller to grab the attention of the readers? I'm not sure...

  • There are layers of meaning. But "becoming a book" seems to suggest actually living out the life described in the book. To write about fly fishing, you must become a fly-fisherman. This goes beyond English Learning. There's no special use of English here. As with most aphorisms, this might not be completely true.
    – James K
    Aug 15, 2023 at 7:10
  • But I suppose the famous example is "Moby Dick" - the Author became a whaler for several years prior to writing the book.
    – James K
    Aug 15, 2023 at 7:18
  • It's just a quirky way of saying Write about what you know about. Aug 15, 2023 at 12:24

1 Answer 1


It's a fairly common trope in writing to say "to (do) [x] you must become [x]". It generally means that you have to think from a different perspective - perhaps a different person's perspective - in order to see how you can achieve your goal.

For example:

to defeat your enemy, you must become your enemy

This would mean that you have to think like your enemy - try to imagine what they might be thinking, what they would do, how they might respond, etc - so that you can form a strategy against them.

I would interpret the metaphor in your example to mean that the writer should put themselves in the place of the characters, think like them, and really immerse themselves in the world they are creating in their book.

  • I think it goes beyond that. He's saying that the writer must actually live the life of their characters, the writer must not only think like their characters, the writer must be one of the characters, like Melville being a whaler.
    – James K
    Aug 15, 2023 at 7:21
  • @JamesK I agree that I may not have fully conveyed the depth of meaning - perhaps I'm struggling for the words. But what you've described is just having a first-person narrative, or relating to one character. I think being "the book" is all of that and more.
    – Astralbee
    Aug 15, 2023 at 8:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .