A Day In The Life

 Posted by at 12:53 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 102021

A while back a blog reader said that he would be interested in reading about how I go about writing my books and I replied that if enough other people were interested, I might put something together to share. The response was pretty good, so I thought I would give you a typical day in my life as an author. However, when I say typical I have to qualify that by adding that there is really nothing typical because I don’t follow a set schedule every day, like starting at the same time and ending at the same time and such. But this should give you a general idea.

I write every day of the week. I don’t have a set goal, although I do feel that 5,000 words is a good writing day for me. Some days it’s less, maybe 2,500 or 3,000 words, while other days I’m on a roll and knock out 10,000 words. All this relates to whatever book project I’m working on at the time. There are days when I don’t work on a book at all. We may be out running errands, we may be paddling our kayaks on the Intracoastal Waterway if the weather is cooperative, or we may be browsing an antique shop somewhere. But no matter what is going on, I always try to write a new blog post of anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words daily. Occasionally I get lazy, or more often I’m so busy working on a book that I don’t have time to write a blog and I will repost something from our 18+ years of travels as fulltime RVers. The daily blogs may cover anything from a new book release or progress on a book to some project we’re working on around the house to just random thoughts.

We are night owls, so we usually sleep until 10 or 11 AM, then get up and have breakfast. After that, I tackle the email that has come in overnight, discard spam and forwards, and answer those needing immediate attention. I might put off responding to others until later in the day or even the next day if I’m busy.

I start writing somewhere around one or two in the afternoon, and take occasional short breaks every two to three hours to log onto Facebook, check new emails that came in, or to wander to the other side of the house to chat with Miss Terry in her office/loom room. Sometimes I need to stop writing to research something pertinent to the book, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.

I know some authors who like to work with music playing and others who need total silence, some who do their best work sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, and others who take a laptop outside and sit under a tree to write. Having spent much of my working life in the small town newspaper business, where there was always something going on around me, I can write pretty much anywhere and not be distracted. These days I have a small office in our house where I do 99% of my work. It’s only 110 square feet, but I am surrounded by interesting things I like, including my collection of police badges, a couple of old Speed Graphic press cameras, an antique Zenith cabinet radio, a slot machine, and even an airplane propeller.

My desk is a modern and larger version of a roll-top, and it’s always a mess, with random piles of paper, pens, and other things that I’m sure drive my wife’s OCD crazy, but it works for me.

I love doing research, but it can be a rabbit hole that I disappear down into and lose hours at a time if I’m not careful. Besides the Internet for research, I have a couple of bookcases in my office loaded with reference books that I refer to quite often.

One of my author friends can only work if he’s wearing his Chicago Cubs baseball cap, and another one has to have classical music playing. Someone else told me that he has a couple of small dogs and a cat who sit on the couch with him as he works on his laptop. Another one tells me that she has a corkboard on her wall above her desk with pictures and drawings by her kids and can’t concentrate unless she glances up at them every once in a while. One best-selling mystery author I know puts on a suit and tie every day to work in his home office and says he can’t accomplish anything unless he is dressed for success. I don’t do any of that, but I do have what I guess one could call my writing uniform. It consists of socks, a pair of hospital-style scrub pants, and one of several identical beat-up Gypsy Journal T-shirts that are so worn out they wouldn’t even make good rags anymore. Don’t ask me why I wear them when I work, except that they’re comfortable.

I have said several times here “when I am writing,” although the reality is that I have short, stubby arthritic fingers that resemble breakfast sausages. Add to that the fact that I am a two-finger typist and it’s not a good recipe for production. Using a keyboard, I can knock out 3,000 words on a good day, but my fingers are so sore I can’t do anything the next day. So I dictate into a Sony digital recorder and convert it to text using Dragon software, or a Blue Yeti Nano microphone and Microsoft Word’s dictate feature. Neither is perfect, and I have to go back and make a lot of corrections the next day but I find that to be a lot quicker than trying to make corrections as I am going.

As I said in a blog post the other day, I don’t use an outline when I write, and I often don’t have any idea where the story is going when I start a new book. I do make notes to include in the story as I write. This could be a fact about how an investigation is conducted, a random comment I want a character to make, or even a description of a character, a vehicle, or a setting for a scene that I work into the story.

Typically I will write until 6 or 7 PM, then stop for dinner. After dinner, I might answer some more emails if needed, and post something about my day’s activities on social media. Then we usually retire to the living room sometime around 8 to 9 PM and watch television and the evening news. When it ends at 11:30, I go back to my desk and write a blog and print it out for Terry to proof, and then post it sometime after midnight local time. We get to bed somewhere between 1:30 and 2:30 AM, and I start all over the next day.

Thought For The Day – Find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “A Day In The Life”

  1. Great info, Nick…answered a lot of my questions about your writing habits. One question though, how do you keep track of all the characters in a series?

  2. Dose your mind ever rest or is it always thinking about writing.

  3. does.

  4. Very interesting to peak into your writer’s world. Thank you for the information.

  5. Bobbie – As I add more series and more characters it becomes harder and harder to keep track of everyone. I have a Word file for each series that lists the main and recurring characters and a short paragraph about each one, including their backgrounds, physical descriptions, and little quirks. It makes me glad I only had two kids. 🙂

    Harry – I don’t think my mind ever rests. I will be in the grocery store and see someone and make a mental note about them to use as a character description, or overhear someone say something and file it away for future use, or see or read a news item that I later use as a basis for a story or a scene in a story. Quite often I will be in the shower or falling asleep and an idea for a new book or a book title will hit me and I have to make a note about it for the future.

  6. Have you ever broken down how many hours you put into writing and researching and figured out what it comes to per hour in compensation?

  7. Do you or have you ever tried to get an agent and publisher instead of self-publishing? Wouldn’t you be more successful with a known publisher behind you?

  8. Sharon – It’s probably minimum wage, but I get a lot of overtime! 🙂 Seriously, I never keep track of that, but I will say I make a very good living and more importantly, I love what I do.

    Thomas – When my first novel, Big Lake, hit the New York Times bestseller list I was contacted by several agents who wanted to represent me. Over the years I’ve been approached by agents and by Amazon’s publishing house, wanting to handle my books. Every time I’ve looked at the numbers and I’ve laughed at them and said thanks but no thanks. What they offer is so little that I would be a fool to even consider accepting. There is nothing an agent or publisher can do for me that I can’t do myself or pay someone to do, and I have total control of what I am doing and keep all of the profits from my books.

  9. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been trying to discipline myself to write everyday… It’s been a struggle. I am writing more often, but it’s difficult to sit there, staring at a blank screen when I’m not sure where I want to take the story, so I get distracted, and do other things lol

  10. You have an interesting life buddy. I love that you are so willing to share your journey with other authors and your readers. I bought Dog’s Run. It arrived yesterday. I am planning on finishing writing my next book before I read anything. But we both know I’m probably not going to make it. I suspect I’ll have it read by the end of next week. Congrats on the new book.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.