The writer’s desk

I get quite a few emails asking about how I write, what sort of an environment I have, where my special space is etc etc. The bottom line is I don’t: I don’t believe in special places, or getting in the mood or waiting for the muse. I used to. I also once took 7 years to write a novel. And that folks, ain’t a career in the making. A professional writer just needs a place to do his or her work. It can be nice, consistent and special, but it doesn’t have to be. Stephen King says he wrote his first publish novels on top of a washing machine in the laundry room. Whilst I am sure he has a (much) nicer place now, the point is made. It’s about getting the work done, nothing more, nothing less.

I have a dedicated office, for which I am thankful, but writing is something I do anywhere and everywhere. I wrote a novel years ago in half hour chunks whilst commuting on the ferry in San Francisco. I wrote another primarily in the Starbucks section of my local grocery store. A laptop, headphones to block out the hubbub, and I’m off.

Writing for me isn’t like a job, it is a job. I work as many hours as most folks do. Granted, I don’t spend any of that time getting berated by my boss or playing office politics (My boss is very nice at communicating and only goes hard on me when I am falling behind my deadlines, and she has been like this since before we even got married; and politics is a non-issue – our cats and I know what the pecking order is, and who comes first, and there just isn’t any debate about it). I do spend a lot of time staring at a yellow pad dreaming about where a story is going, and a bit of time actually typing words. The thinking is 80% or more of my work, and for that reason I don’t really think of myself as a writer, but rather a storyteller. 100% of my creative time is crafting story, only about 20% of it is actually writing the damned thing.

In case you wanted to see, here is the before picture of my desk. This is a process I go through (or my wife makes me go through) after each novel:

photo 2






And this was the same desk at the end of editing the last novel.

photo 1






It says something about how my brain works, but I’m not getting into what it says.



17 Responses to “The writer’s desk”

  1. Pat Buckley says:

    I would like to send hard copies of your first 4 books to my son. Is there a way I can do that? He used to live and work here in Florida so I know he would enjoy them.

    I just love your Miami Jones books!!

  2. Vinny Zaleski says:

    I devoured the first 4 books. ..anxiously await the next. Thanks, A.J.!

  3. Doug Knight says:

    Lol… looks like my desk when I’m in the middle of circuit design (the second pic) but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it look like the first pic!
    Love the Miami books, AJ. They are fun, fast, uncomplicated, interesting and I recognize the landscape, which has meaning for me (from Naples). I read a lot of Florida mysteries but many of them are too hokey or just plain bad. Your Miami series is just right… Good, fast, fun reads. Keep it up, man!


  4. Donna Suggs says:

    Hysterical ! Love reading your posts . Thanks for making my day brighter!

  5. Norman Boe says:

    I have read and still own every John D MacDonald book written. We have many other favorites and many copies but he was our favorite. Presently, only Lee Child comes close. After reading all your books, the Heisman Trophy adventure was, to me, clearly the best. We will try your next one.

  6. Cathy hoyt says:

    What is the address that you show in van nuys? I was born and raised in so cal and lived a good deal in the valley as it were. I had to relocate after 40 years with my job up to fresno of all places (I cried for months) and now every time I see that van nuys addy it brings back fond memories.

    I really enjoy your books. I guess I am a serial mystery lover and every time I finish a series I worry about who will come next and I happened onto you and yours at a good time so thank you, look forward to future reads.

  7. Norma says:

    Love reading about how and where you wrtie. Also love your books.

  8. Cathryn Payne says:

    I attempted to review “Stiff Arm Steal” however my technology devices did not cooperate so I chose to let you know that I enjoyed it very much. I was born and raised in Palm Beach county . My husband retired from the Palm Beach Sheriffs Office after 27+ years as a deputy. I worked at St.Marys hospital for 17 years . We have since moved to Tennessee .
    Back to the book review, I love the way Miami approaches the clues and what others consider non-clues. Terrific read !
    Thank you and am looking forward to the next one I read !
    Have a great one !

  9. I tried to find you on Fantastic Fiction. You were not there.

    Any Ideas why not.

  10. Kevin Powers says:

    Hello A J,
    I am enjoying your books every bit as much as Hiaasen, Connelly,
    Child, and a few others. And they are eerily reminiscent of John D. MacDonald.
    Work hard buddy ! (So we can benefit, haha).
    All the best to you and family,

  11. Jackied says:

    Dear A.J.
    I have read all of your e books in my nook,but I can’t find Three Strikes. Can you help me out with this? Also, are you still writing about Miami? I’m not a mystery or detective book fan but somehow Miami grabbed me and I can’t put my nook down when I’m reading his stories because he keeps you guessing until the end. Also, I like there’s not a lot of gore, cursing and explicit sexual scenes in your books. Please tell me there are more so I can continue with my favorite pastime, reading about Miami Jones and friends.

    • AJ Stewart says:

      Three Strikes is available as an exclusive novel for my reader’s group members. You can sign up via the link at the top of the site. As for a new book, the next Miami Jones novel, called Deep Rough, will come out in June 2016.

  12. Sue says:

    Loved every book.Been waiting a long time to have a “John D. McDonald ” like author to come along. Dead Fast has been my favorite so far….it is terrific to be able to read a book with good balance between description and dialogue . Thank You.