On Writing Routine and Plot: Steve Berry

Steve Berry


What’s your writing routine like?

I’m a morning person because I learned to write my novels while still practicing law. I would get to the office at 6:30 a.m. and write until other people arrived, around 9. Now I still do that. I start at 6:30 or 7, and I’ll write until 11, then take an hour off, then work until about 2 p.m. By then my brain has had enough. Then I’ll deal with the business side of writing—marketing, publicity. I’ll do interviews like this one with you. That’s one to two hours a day, sometimes more when we’re getting closer to a book release. I usually stop around 4 p.m., and from 4 to 6:30 or so I just relax. I’ll take a walk, play nine holes of golf. Evenings are my research time, to prepare for the next day.

I can only write new words at my desk, the one I’ve owned for 25 years. When we moved to our new house I designed my office around it. I’ve written everything I’ve ever written at this desk.

I’m not one of those people who can write on the road. I can edit on the road. I can research or plot on the road. But I can’t write new words on the road. The desk is just one that I bought at Sam’s Club back in the late 1980s, and I’ve had it ever since.

Do you plot things out ahead of time, or do your plots grown more organically?

I definitely have an outline to get started. The first 100 pages are laid out, and, as I write, I stay about 100 pages ahead of myself outlining. But I don’t adhere rigidly to the outline; it just sort of keeps me on track. I’ve found that it’s much better to have some idea as to where you’re going. Otherwise you’ll waste time.


From Wikipedia:

Steve Berry (born in 1955) is an American author, professor and former attorney currently living in St. Augustine, Florida.He is a graduate of Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law.

Steve Berry first appeared in print with his historical thrillers The Amber Room and The Romanov Prophecy in 2003 and 2004. A practicing attorney (at the time), Berry had been writing since 1990, and it took him 12 years and 85 rejections (over five different editions) to finally sell a manuscript to Ballantine Books. Berry credits the nuns who taught him in Catholic school with instilling the discipline needed both to craft a novel and to find a publisher.

Today, Berry’s novels have earned spots on The New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and BookSense bestseller lists. He has more than 14 million books in print, which have been translated into 40 languages and sold in 51 countries.


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