Writing Routines: James Patterson

James Patterson.
James Patterson.
There are lots of ways to do this writing thing. Take prolific mega-selling author James Patterson, for instance. In a Daily Beast Q&A, Patterson told Noah Charney this:

I write in pencil, for one thing. I don’t use a computer. That’s the craziest thing. I’m sitting here looking at three or four things on my desk, all written in pencil, and I have an assistant who will type up pages, or I’ll dictate over the phone. I drink a fair amount of orange soda. I find myself chewing bubble gum at least once a day. I was chewing just before we began to speak, in fact! I never get writer’s block, because I always have a good dozen projects that I’m working on, so if something isn’t working I’ll just switch gears.

A pencil, orange soda and bubble gum. Who knew?

The bestselling author of the Alex Cross novels also said he writes seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Patterson rises at 5:30 a.m., gets started, takes a walk around a golf course for an hour or so, and then writes until 11 or noon.

He’s big on outlines. He told Charney he writes about 900 pages of outlines each year.

“Most outlines are three or four drafts, so it’s a lot!” Patterson said. “Then one full novel a year, and whatever polishing…”

Lastly, Patterson’s advice for aspiring authors:

People that want to write commercial fiction, for them I still think the three rules are story, story, story. You really should be able to tell somebody, in a paragraph, what your idea is and they should say “Ooh, ooh, that sounds really good.”

Read “How I Write: James Patterson”