Writing Routines

Michael Connelly’s Writing Routine: “Writing is all about finding momentum and keeping it.”

Michael Connelly is an American author best-known for his detective and crime fiction novels featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller.

If you want to be a writer, then write. Don’t think about it, do it. Every writing experience is a learning process. The more you do it, the better you will get.

Michael Connelly Interview – Key Fundamentals Of Storytelling | The Writers’ Studio

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When writing his debut novel, The Black Echo, which was also the first book of his to introduce the Harry Bosch character, Michael Connelly was still working as a crime reporter at the Los Angeles Times. While staying on the job provided him with valuable insights that would feed into his writing, it also meant that he had to juggle two careers.

“At the time I didn’t have kids. I went to my wife and said that I wanted to work on the book nights and at least one weekend day, every week,” Connelly said in an interview with January Magazine. “Her support was a key thing to getting that first book done.”

The future detective author had been inspired to become a mystery writer when he first saw the Robert Altman film The Long Goodbye, released in 1973, which was based on Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel of the same name. After watching the film, Connelly went home and read the rest of Chandler’s books that featured the character Philip Marlowe, and subsequently transferred to the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications to major in journalism and minor in creative writing.

Connelly’s dream of becoming a mystery writer didn’t happen right away. After graduating in 1980, he got a job as a crime reporter at the Daytona Beach News Journal where he worked for almost two years. From there, he moved to the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel where he covered the South Florida cocaine wars.

In 1986, after he and two other reporters covered a story about the survivors of the 1985 Delta Flight 191 plane crash, Connelly received widespread recognition and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

The story’s success and the subsequent national attention he received earned Connelly a spot at the Los Angeles Times where he worked as a crime reporter. It was there that Connelly would begin his writing career, balancing the crime beat with his passion for writing on the side.

“I guess I lived two lives,” he recalled. “I didn’t even quit my job until after The Concrete Blonde, though I took a leave-of-absence to write some of it. When I was done I realized it was pretty hard to do both of these things, and at that point I was making enough money from the books that I could replace my salary. I try never to lose sight that I’ve been extremely lucky in that way.”

Michael Connelly’s daily writing routine

After quitting his job as a reporter in the mid-90s to pursue writing full-time, Connelly regularly wrote and published a new novel each year.

The popularity of his books also led to a career in television. Connelly was one of the creators and executive producers of the action TV series Level 9; his novel The Lincoln Lawyer was adapted into a 2011 film starring Matthew McConaughey; and he is currently producing a TV series based on the Harry Bosch novels for Amazon Studios.

In an interview, Connelly credits his TV career for his ability to work anywhere. Since he’s busy juggling being a TV showrunner with producing novels, he’s forced to write whenever he gets the chance.

“I can write in my office, I can write on planes, I can write in cars,” Connelly revealed in an interview with Goodreads. “I was on a plane last night for five hours, squeezed in so tight, my elbows were pushing into my ribs, but I wrote the whole time and got a lot done. That’s my process: to try to write whenever I can.”

Though that’s not to say he doesn’t have an ideal writing set-up in mind. “A perfect day would be to get up before the light gets up in the sky and start writing and get a lot done before the rest of the city wakes up,” he described. “That’s what I try to do when I’m at home or even when I’m in a hotel on the road. Morning hours are really good for me, dark morning hours.”

In a conversation with Noah Charney for The Daily Beast, the Blood Work author described his typical daily writing routine.

It definitely changes depending on where I am in a book, because for me writing is all about finding momentum and keeping it. When your word count is 0, it’s much harder than when your word count is 60,000. I get up to write while it’s still dark, 5 or 5:30. I start by editing and rewriting everything I did the day before, and that gives some momentum for the day. I get to new territory when the sun is coming up. I take a break to take my daughter to school—actually she just started driving, so I take a break to have breakfast with her. Then I get back to it. If it’s early in a book, I’ll only write until lunch, because it can be hard for me to get that momentum going. If it’s late in a book and really flowing, I’ll just keep writing and writing, until I’m either too tired or have been called to dinner.

How I Write: Michael Connelly | The Daily Beast

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