Behind The Scenes of a 21-Time Bestselling Author's Writing Routine

good morning it's somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 and this is the last week of four months of writing my novel and nothing glamorous but getting up this early in the morning I have to be quiet so it's not to wake my wife I'm not dressed for fashion I'm dressed for comfort I've got a shirt that's three times too big but it works for me first thing I'm going to do is go to my computer enter my health stats it's important to stay healthy especially at my age and especially being a writer it's so easy for us to just sit all day and work but I'm gonna be working out later today too but the first thing I do I'll enter those statistics then I'll check my email you know catch up on the news I just want to let stuff out of the way so my mind is clear and I'm not distracted when I'm not doing my work and I do all that stuff on my little laptop in the house first the world [Applause] so now I'm ready to get out to my reading cave which is in my office just across the driveway I've had a little breakfast checked on the baseball scores and the news now it used to be that I would start with the writing or the editing and nothing else but I found I was a little distracted because of those things I'd rather do make sure they're out of the way you do what works for you but for me I did I need all the distractions taken care of and now I'm ready to get to work so I'm on my way out where you write and the kind of stuff you use is important my writing space is nice these days when I started out I had a plank that I stretched between two kitchen chairs and put those in front of the couch in the living room sat on the couch that was my office it wasn't comfortable it probably wasn't healthy for my back but that's how you work you you use what you can afford I'd urge you to invest in a good chair you're gonna be sitting in it for several hours all your work gonna be done there and so you need to be comfortable you need to be healthy I've got everything I need within arm's reach here I've got a fan or if it gets hot I've got heater when it gets cold I got my lighting I've got all my research stacked I know where everything is usually I'm a neatnik but while I'm writing this is what its gonna look like because it has to serve the purpose of the message what I'm working on is what's important I've got my cover that the publisher has already done that rough up so it keeps me on track I know what I'm doing so now that everything's in place I'm ready to do first things first I will go back about 25 pages and do a heavy edit and reread I call it ferocious self-edit it's an aggressive self edit that's where the magic happens everything I did yesterday those 10 or 20 pages were simply the rough draft getting the story down now I'm going to polish it make it to come together this process takes longer for me than it used to because I've written a lot of books and I want each book to be better than the last so I'm really working hard to polish and make it just the way I want it because of the technology you can make something different all day it's it's getting to the point where you know you've made it the best it can be and you're not simply making it different you're making it better once you've hit that point you stop and move on to today's writing so I've got a couple hours of work to do to make yesterday's stuff work that in essence is my second draft and when I finish the entire manuscript I'll go back through from page one all the way to the end for what in essence is a third draft the last polish and rewrite so I need to get to work I'll see you in a couple of hours [Applause] normally when I make changes I don't have tracking on but to show you what I'm doing here one of my major principles is that dialogue can almost always be cut to the bone oh I see forgive me you fear it could be the remains of moutains child I understand I just feel I can tighten that and I've turned on the tracking so you can see what I'm gonna do here I don't think I need to repeat him but he can gonna start with Shirley and I don't think we need the I understand even though that may be what would happen in real life and see again here I can cut the dialogue more tightly she could just say true master when the girl said maybe we stay here until we're sure the birds have moved down okay so I finished the heavy edit and rewrite of everything I wrote yesterday and now it's time to face the blank page and that's always intimidating even at this stage of this novel I'm a panther I write by the seat of my pants I'm not an outliner but in one sense I am because to avoid facing that blank page I don't want to sit here waiting for inspiration so I've left myself just a couple of lines I tell where my character is what happens next and where I think I'm going in the chapter not really an outline but it gives me something to go on and I'm ready to hit the ground running okay I finished my writing for today I'm at a pace of about 2500 words a day now that's pretty fast there are a lot of people even more successful than I who read a lot fewer words per day than that speed is not the point quality is the point if you write 500 words a day and they're at the quality you want that's your goal now to make your deadline you want to take even if it's self-imposed divide the number of days you've given yourself to write by the number of pages or the number of words and make sure you hit your quantity that day now you may not be a morning person like I am the writing I do before noon is the best writing I'll do all day if you're a night person make sure you've got no distractions and you've got your energy work when it's best for you to work when I was a publisher years ago I learned that only one in a hundred writers literally make their deadlines so I determined if I just do that I'm gonna set myself apart from 99 other writers out of a hundred so I make sure my deadlines are sacred and now depending on how I feel at this time of the day I'll either go upstairs and work out or go in the house and have some lunch and I'll put off the editing and rewriting until tomorrow because the more space I give between the time I finish writing and the time I do my editing the better for the project

26 thoughts on “Behind The Scenes of a 21-Time Bestselling Author's Writing Routine

  1. Iā€™m just really sleepy at both ends of the day to write and I have work from 6AM – 8Pm I have no greater desire than to write however. I am just beholden to my schedule and energy.

  2. I would buy his book showing all the edits, for learning purposes. Anyone one know if any author has done such a thing?

  3. Are the steps the same if I am writing a children's book……..say 1-3 grade with only 15-20 pages? I mean same process? Thank you so much for your teaching! I would love to read one of your fiction.

  4. Great video! You ever think of doing a video series of you writing in real time like a chapter or a short story? Writer geeks like me would love it! Lol

  5. Best selling by who i read all my life never heard of any book by this guy .40 books it supposed to be art not you agent deadline

  6. I'm finding it hard to keep a conversation going on page… can we assume the reader doesn't need "character A said… said character B… etc…

  7. Thank you for sharing the honesty about writing and discipline. I appreciate it more than I can say. This is the first time in a few months, since I found a temporary job, that I am home before 8:30 PM. I can do it. I just need to prioritize and discipline myself to do it.

  8. Greetings from Tobago! Thanks so much Jerry, this was very inspiring. I mainly write non-fiction but I've started a few fiction projects but they got overrun by the non-fiction which I thought were more urgent for helping others. You're inspiring me to get more serious about my writing routine in my very hectic life as a Single Mom. Thanks for the great work you do for others and the Lord

  9. I seriously would love a writing cave like that to write in! As recommended by Brian Tracy, I have started "eating the frog" in the morning, because those pesky things also nag at me. I find my mind is more free and open to just writing. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I'm a member of your Guild and I must say this is the best video I've ever seen on the writing process. This is the kind of video that inspires those of us who want to make an impact with our writing and Jerry Jenkins shows the way. Thank you for making this video. God bless.

  11. Thank you, Jerry, inspiring video. I love your writing space. Thank you for what you said about getting our distractions out of the way. in the past few weeks, my bedroom has been my writing space, as I have to watch my little baby go to sleep before I start to do any writing, in the early hours or late at night.

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