James Patterson

A seven-day discipline

I guess I write four to five hours a day but I do it seven days a week. It's very disciplined, yes, but for me it's a joy. I literally can sit down anywhere and start scribbling. If I don't know what to do with myself, I always know what to do with myself: go to my office and write.

I spend the summer in New York, but most of the time I live in Palm Beach. There my office is upstairs on the second floor with a view of Lake Worth.

I get up every day at about 5am and write early. I don't have a computer. I write longhand in pencil on a legal pad and give the pages to my assistant to type up. When I get back the first draft, typed triple-spaced, I write between the lines, this time with a ballpoint pen. When I go through the manuscript a second and third time, I just read between the lines, and only deal with what I've written that draft. I usually do six or seven drafts, but sometimes more until I'm happy. I've written longhand from the beginning, and why change a winning formula?

Three or four days a week, I'm on the golf course by about 7.15am. I play nine or sometimes 18 holes. I use golf to shut down – I go out to have fun and hit some good shots. I played golf as a child but really got into it again when I was about 45 or so. I usually play on my own, although sometimes with my son, Jack, or my wife Sue, who is very competitive!

Writer’s block is never a problem

I'm back at the house by 10am and then I write some more – these days I have as many as 40 projects underway at the same time. I keep the manuscripts on my desk in a couple of rows, each with their own title page; some are screenplays, some are novels. I handled an awful lot of things when I ran an advertising agency, so I've got used to a lot of things going on in my life and it not bothering me – I feel no pressure at all. Writer’s block is never a problem! If I ever gets bored or stuck with one project, there are others I can turn to.

When I write a book with someone else, we start with me writing an elaborate outline, as much as 70 pages. It's very detailed, clear and focused. Then the co-author will write the first draft, and I’ll see the work every few weeks. We usually do between two to seven more drafts.

I work some more in the afternoon. A few times a week I take a 45-minute nap, then work again until I knock off at 6pm. At the end of the day I'll watch a TV show or a film as I'm a real movie fan. I'm usually in bed by 11pm. That's my writing day – and it's been like that ever since I left advertising all those years ago.”

Read more

We use cookies on this site to enable certain parts of the site to function and to collect information about your use of the site so that we can improve our visitors’ experience.

For more on our cookies and changing your settings click here


Strictly Necessary


Analytics


Preferences & Features


Targeting / Advertising