Three Hours A Day

By John Gilstrap

This is conference season, and I feel a little like I’ve been on a treadmill.  Two weeks ago, I was at Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis, always one of my faves, and this past weekend, I attended Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, which was held in Dallas.

Currently, I am still in Texas with my buddy (and outstanding writer) Reavis Wortham.  We share a publisher, and the publicity department put together the “Double Barrel Book Tour.”  Rev and I will be tearing up Houston, Austin and parts in between.  In this part of the world, wild hogs are vermin, to be shot on sight, no license required.  So yes, there’ll be a couple of rifles in the mix.

All of this eats up huge buckets full of time.  Having just submitted Hellfire, the latest in the Jonathan Grave series, back in September, I owe a manuscript on March 1 for Crimson Phoenix, the first book in my second series.  I’m only 30 pages into that one.  I feel a low grade panic beginning to build.

Which brings us to the real point of this post: time management.

Joe R. Lansdale was the guest of honor at this year’s Magna, and I got to spend a good bit of time with him over the course of the weekend.  If you’re not familiar with Joe’s work, you really need to be.  The guy is a creativity machine, churning out massive amounts of work in various genres and formats.  When I asked him how he can do that, he answered with four simple words.  “Three hours a day.”

That’s his writing schedule.  Three concentrated hours.

I’ve decided to steal the idea.  My writing sessions tend to be scattershot, jerked around by distractions like email, phone calls and extra cups of coffee.  I’ll really concentrate for maybe twenty, thirty minutes at a time, and then see something shiny that whips my attention away.  I’m announcing here and now that I’m going to give Joe’s strategy a solid try.

It’s amazing what a compelling force panic can be.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

For what it’s worth, when this post appears, I will be on the road, and likely not able to respond.

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About John Gilstrap

John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of Total Mayhem, Scorpion Strike, Final Target, Friendly Fire, Nick of Time, Against All Enemies, End Game, Soft Targets, High Treason, Damage Control, Threat Warning, Hostage Zero, No Mercy, Nathan’s Run, At All Costs, Even Steven, Scott Free and Six Minutes to Freedom. Four of his books have been purchased or optioned for the Big Screen. In addition, John has written four screenplays for Hollywood, adapting the works of Nelson DeMille, Norman McLean and Thomas Harris. A frequent speaker at literary events, John also teaches seminars on suspense writing techniques at a wide variety of venues, from local libraries to The Smithsonian Institution. Outside of his writing life, John is a renowned safety expert with extensive knowledge of explosives, weapons systems, hazardous materials, and fire behavior. John lives in Fairfax, VA.

3 thoughts on “Three Hours A Day

  1. Lansdale is an interesting person. I met him at a science fiction convention years ago before he became a “name.” In a group of writers, I mentioned “Romantic Times,” a major book review magazine which reviewed all genres because romance readers are genre omnivores and spend a bloody fortune on books. This group of men rolled their eyes in the typical “girl cootie” reaction, but Lansdale asked some good question, and I brought him a copy of the magazine which he studied and asked more questions. All of his books were reviewed there, after that. He went on to become a bestseller while the girl cootie contingent disappeared into obscurity. An interesting and smart person.

  2. If I could only be disciplined enough to carve out those three hours. Many times, given I’m not home for a chunk of time in the morning, I get home and think I’ve lost the entire writing day, but on those days when I park myself in front of the computer and apply fingers to keyboard, I discover I can hit my word count in relatively little time.
    I’m going to give a more ‘concentrated writing time’ a try. Check with me in 2 weeks and ask how I did. Of course, telling the dog she can’t interrupt me for 3 hours might be a game changer.

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