Writing Life: David Baldacci

Audio version of blog post below

Productivity Measure (Hours/Pages/Words)

Part-time Hours: 10 PM – 2 AM

[full-time schedule to be added once found]

Morning Person/Night Owl

Night owl as a part-time writer.

[full-time schedule to be added once found]

Part-Time Writing Life

When he first began writing, Baldacci was a full-time lawyer with long hours and a family with one child. He would come home, spend time with this family and then after they went off to bed, he would write from 10 PM – 2 AM, every day, 7 days a week, for years.

During the day, if he had lunch, 30 minutes at his desk, he would write out story ideas that he wanted to work on that night while he ate a sandwich or if he had a computer, he’d write out a page. If he had a bit of time here and there, he would think about the story so that when it came time to write that night, he could hit the ground running.

Description of Work Sessions

“I approached it brick by brick, much like I did my legal cases…they’re both involving little details. And so with my books, I would go down and I would look a little bit each day, here’s my little goal. Here’s what I want to accomplish. And I do, and I set it aside, and I think about it the next day. And I come back the next night, and I put another brick in the wall.”1

Baldacci immerses himself in the story before he begins writing. He reads the first chapter and the 2 preceding chapters to get back into the flow of the story and language. He akin it to doing warm-ups before you go for a run.

Writing Should Be a Compulsion

“If you want to be a writer, you have to write” and initially I thought that meant that you should write, but Baldacci points out that it’s a compulsion, not a suggestion, a chore, or the right thing to do. It’s something that you cannot help but do. Just like you might like watching endless amount of cat videos (ok, maybe that’s just me), or playing video games or watching Netflix, writing should be something you want to do if you want to be a writer.

I understand why some of us might not want to. Our perfectionist side comes out and gets in the way and just sucks the sheer fun out of it. But if you can get rid of that and go to town just writing, it might grow into something you can’t help but do.

“I remember running down the stairs to my cubbyhole at 10 PM because that was my time. That’s when I got to write what I wanted to write.”1

Writing Space

As a full-time writer, Baldacci writes anywhere. He feels that you can live within the story in your mind. He can write on planes, in trains and cars, at restaurants, etc.

Handling Writer’s Block

  1. He works on one of his other WIP. It could be a newspaper piece, a novella or a screenplay, etc.
  2. Takes a shower
  3. Goes for walks

Essentially, he puts distance between what’s got him stuck and works on other things or engages in activities that allow his mind to wander and work on the problem in the background.

Biggest Piece of Advice

You have to immerse yourself in the material and live within the story. The insights you get and the connections you make only become available to you when you have successfully immersed yourself within the story.


  1. https://www.masterclass.com/classes/david-baldacci-teaches-mystery-and-thriller-writing
    Mainly from Lesson 11 – the Writing Process

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