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.