Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath


SWITCH is a bit outside my usual niche of how-to books for writers. However, this book is full of good lessons for writers, for business people (which many writers consider themselves) and for families, so I decided to review it anyway. It also has information that isn’t in every other how-to book out there, and all of it is backed up by solid research and useful examples.

SWITCH is about change. It’s hard to change, even when we know we need to, but there are some surprisingly simple things that make change easier. Most writers want to change something about their writing life, whether it’s working with a different publishing house, trying a different genre, or simply turning off the internet and putting butt-in-chair. Heath and Heath divide our capacity for change into three distinct areas they call the rider, the elephant, and the path. People can achieve remarkable changes by working on just one of these, but achieve lasting success by using all three.

The rider is the intellectual part of us, the part that knows we have to change. It’s the planner, not the doer. Writers are thinkers, so most of us have no problem coming up with amazing plans for change. The problem is carrying out those plans. That’s where the elephant comes in. The elephant is the energy, the motivation, and most importantly, the emotion. If you don’t feel the need for change deep in your gut, the change will be short-lived. Heath and Heath provide numerous strategies for getting your elephant moving. But of course, without a path, an elephant and a rider will go in circles. If every change seems like two steps forward, one step back, then the path might be the problem. There are ways to change the environment to make things easier.

I loved the examples in SWITCH. Many how-to books, especially those written for business people, pad the book with repetitive, irrelevant and barely plausible stories. Heath and Heath’s examples are wide-ranging. They discuss everything from nutrition programs in Vietnam to merchandising at Target, yet none it seemed contrived.

SWITCH appealed to my rider with solid how-to advice. It appealed to my elephant with its examples. And now that I’ve read the book, I know how to shape the path to make any change I want to.


SWITCH can be found here.


rating: 5 stars


This book is best for: all writers


I recommend this book

8 thoughts on “Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

  1. I’m glad you reviewed Switch–it’s one of my favorites too–and I hope you’ll continue to spotlight books that it would be good for writers to read even if they don’t directly discuss writing technique. Thanks for an excellent and informative review.

    • Thank you for reading, Bridget!

      I’m so glad you liked Switch as much as I did. Today, a friend recommended The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. Perhaps I’ll read and review that one next.

  2. That sounds really interesting! It’s something I would never have looked twice at without your review, but now if I see it I’ll certainly pick it up. Thank you for reviewing something slightly outside the strict “books for writers” purview!

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s