Where Do I Find the Time to Write So Many Books?

People often ask me where I come up with the time to churn out so many books.  If you know me, you know writing is my passion.  I love it.  No writer’s block here!  I once had the great pleasure of meeting Ken Follett, a man who has penned several books that are foundational to me.  When asked about writer’s block, Ken said, “Whenever I get stuck, I either kill one of my characters or let a few of them have sex and, voila!  No more writer’s block.”  Great advice and, trust me, it works.

 Allow me to answer the overarching question.  I average about one book every nine months.  Keep in mind, my books range anywhere from 70,000 words up to 200,000.  That noted, most of my books fall into the 120,000-word range.  That means my daily average is approximately 444 words, roughly a page and a half.  Of course, that doesn’t count editing and all the steps that go into a completed book.  So, we’ll call it my “published page count average”—444 words per day.

 With a few scant exceptions, I write every day.  I can count on one hand the days I’ve not written in the last decade, and all but one involved having my head in a toilet—a.k.a. stomach flu/food poisoning/whatever.  The only other day I didn’t write was when my son was born in 2009.  He took priority.

 Typically, I sit down early in the morning and grind for an hour.  On weekends, perhaps a bit longer.  Oftentimes, I might find a coffee shop to do some afternoon editing.  I usually have three manuscripts in the hopper at any one time.  One is almost always a first draft, and the other two are in various stages of completion.  I go all the way through one draft and set it aside.  I move on to the next manuscript, again going through it completely.  And so on, and so on.  I do this until I feel I can’t make it any better, and I pass it to a few trusted test readers.

 Once I receive the feedback from the test readers, I make the changes I deem necessary.  Then, assuming I don’t feel the draft needs more testing, I send it to my editor.  Once she responds, I make the changes, send the book to proofers and off it goes to publishing.

 For aspiring writers of fiction: If you want to write a book—if you truly have the desire—then sit your butt down and do it.  Don’t talk about it.  Don’t have people test read pieces of it.  Just write.  Get that first draft onto paper.  Then the second draft.  Then the third, etc.  It usually takes me seven or eight drafts to feel my story is complete.  You can do it.

Straight From the Fingers of Chuck Driskell…

Writing is one of the happiest times of my day. I can view the world through the eyes of a world leader, a ruthless killer, a daring heroine, or a donor-kebab vendor on a seedy street in Liverpool. It all just depends where my mind takes me.

Typically I wake up around 5:00 each morning. By 5:20 I'm in my office and writing.  If not, I’m not happy. Why so early? Well, for me, it’s the best time to write because my mind is uncluttered first thing in the morning. And during the week, I have to leave for my real job around 7:15.

My writing office is downstairs in our home, essentially a converted living room. Rather than sit at the desk and write, I take my laptop into the easy chair and peck away. For inspiration, my office is full of beloved books and pictures of some of my favorite places. If I need additional inspiration, I'll sometimes view pictures of the locale where my writing is taking place. Typically, I write between one and two-thousand words each day. That part is easy. It’s rewriting and editing that takes so much time.

I also have several containers full of articles and clippings I've compiled over the years.  I go through them once or twice a year and always receive some sort of new idea to assist with my current story.

When I’m not writing, you'll probably find me with my family. My wife is my backbone, displaying the patience to put up with many pursuits that constantly take away from her own free time. If it wasn't for her, I would not have the freedom to write. There’s nothing better than spending time with her and wonderful children, going to the park or just playing in the backyard.

As you will learn in my biography, I was in the United States Army. To this day, much of my writing—and most of my reading—centers around the military in some fashion or another. If I’m watching television, often times it’s—you guessed it—the Military Channel. I love classic military movies, too.

I purchased a motorcycle last year, like the one seen HERE.  It's a blast to ride and, while it's not skydiving, it gets my "knees in the breeze" and puts a smile on my face.  I've not gotten the obligatory tattoo yet.  Suggestions anyone?

Here are a few other random thoughts and tidbits:

  • Have you read the James Bond series by Ian Fleming?  If not, do!  Fantastic writing and not cartoonish like the movies.
  • I wish I had a Licher Pils right now.  It's so good.  Let me know if you've had one.
  • Bill Murray just kills me.  This is a hilarious clip from a bad movie.  But the movie shined whenever he was onscreen.  The man is a genius.
  • The U.S. Army saved me.  We thank soldiers, and we should.  But oftentimes, guys like me need the military as much as the military needs them.
  • Who is my favorite character from my books?  That's tough.  I guess Patrick Lacher from Lahn's Edge is nearest and dearest to my heart.  I was once a lot like him.  I'm more interested in who you're favorite character is.  Tell me!
  • I have the most fun creating my bad guys and gals.  It's very liberating!
  • Why do people crowd the gates when getting on an airplane?  Do they fear the airplane will leave without them?  If they're in Zone 4, do they really need to stand in everyone's way?  Mind boggling.
  • I prefer summer to winter.  I prefer fall to spring.  I prefer spring to winter.  I don't like winter.  (And, yes, I live in South Carolina.)
  • I've been on a serious David Bowie kick.  I've always liked Bowie but, my gosh, the man was a genius.  I know I'm speaking the obvious, but still...
  • I've also been on a Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon jag.  What a series.  Frank O'Brien, you were indeed correct.  The richness of characters and the ease of reading.  Sublime.
  • Please, if you're reading this and you have a minute, pick up the phone (not text) and call someone you care about - especially if you haven't spoken in a while.  You'll both be rewarded.