Writing Process

David Baldacci

Lesson time 11:30 min

David began writing when he was a full-time lawyer. He encourages you to be creative about making time to write and finding a writing process that works for you.

David Baldacci
Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
In his MasterClass, bestselling thriller author David Baldacci teaches you how he fuses mystery and suspense to create pulse-pounding action.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Pretty much every writer I've ever known when they-- starting out had another job, you know. And that certainly was my case. I was a trial lawyer for about a decade in Washington DC. And that was the time period where I was really focusing on all my novel writing career. I'd done screenplays, didn't have really any success. I thought, you know what? I want to attempt a novel. So here's how I broke it down. I had a family back then. I was married. I had one child at that time. And I worked. Regardless of whether you like lawyers or not, they work really long hours. Because that's how you make your money. You work hours, and you get paid by the hour. So for me, I had to find a time where it would work for me and my family and my professional career to be able to write. And I chose very late at night. Because I usually got up in the morning-- Washington DC traffic is terrible, so I had to leave early. I didn't have time to write in the morning. So I would come home. I would spend time with my family. They would go off to bed. And around 10:00, I would go downstairs in my little cubby. And I would write from like 10:00 until 2:00 in the morning every day, seven days a week. And I did that for years. And that may sound a little draconian. But trust me. If you really enjoy the craft of writing and you're really into your stories-- I remember like running down the stairs to my cubbyhole at 10:00 PM because that was my time. That's when I got to write what I wanted to write. During the day when I was working-- at my lunch hour, you know, if I had 30 minutes where I could eat a sandwich at my desk, I would pull out my notepad. And I'd start writing down some story ideas and notes that I wanted to work on that night. Or computer-- I'd pop on my computer and maybe bang out a page during lunch. During the course of the day, you can find a minute here or minute there. You can go out and take a walk, just a few minutes where you can build up stuff in your head so that when you go down-- if you're going to write at night or early in the morning-- you can hit the ground running. And you know where you want to go that night. I approached it brick by brick, much like I did my legal cases. I worked I did trial work. I did business deals. 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. [MUSIC PLAYING] A lot of times when people come up to me at parties or book events and stuff, they know I'm a writer. And they come up, you know, I think I could write a book if I could just find the time. And I'm always very encouraging to those people. I say, you know what? I think you can do. Everybody has a story in them. You know, try to find the time. Bu...

Captivate your readers

David Baldacci has captivated readers across the world with gripping, suspense-fueled thrillers. Now the New York Times–bestselling author of 38 novels shares his techniques for crafting authentic characters, developing research-based plots, and navigating the world of publishing. Learn how to write a novel with red herrings, clues, and plot twists that will keep your readers turning the pages.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved this. The approach, the methodical way David executes his craft, the insider tips...thanks for paying it forward.

The lesson on Life as a writer, and writing a series, was worth the one year fee.

So much food for thought. It was a well considered class. Thank you.

Practical, earnest and detailed. Daivd shared a lot of valuable advice. The class was fantastic!



He's "astonishingly clean." Bwah ha ha ha! That cracked me up. This was indeed a great lesson. A good reminder that you don't always need large blocks of time to write. Just do SOMETHING toward your goal.

Carlene G.

I can appreciate the feeling of being compelled to write every day. I write every opportunity I can. Listening to your lesson makes me think maybe I am a writer too!

laura J.

I just posted on twitter recommending this class and others, time to share what is great about learning and living; several times a week I will come here and change the future, let you know if I make it and get published.


Anyone else feel completely called out when he asked "how much tv do you watch? how much time do you spend looking at pictures?" I have no defense :P

A fellow student

Great lesson. Really enjoyed the advice about re-reading work instead of returning back to the manuscript in a cold-turkey state of mind.


Really enjoyed this. Writing is a passion, a compulsion, I can't not write. "Wandering minds solve a lot of complicated plot problems, so let your mind wander." Some of the best advice I've ever heard!

Val C.

Good advice. Time brainstorming is well spent. I take my dog to the river. We both get exercise and come back renewed. One thing I would like to see, and this is more for Master Class than Mr. Baldacci, is a class on the business of writing. Most of us have little idea of the process after the book has been written.

Lina R.

Great lesson. Love advice on immersing yourself in the material and letting your mind wander. Good to hear it's okay to switch back to another piece if you're blocked on your work novel. I do it all the time. Always wondered why I bounce around like that, but it does seem to help.

Marcus W.

I have been a fan of Baldacci since I randomly picked up a used copy of The Innocent at a second hand store because it had a picture of a dude with a rifle on the cover standing next to a child with DC in the background. I was intrigued. Five years later, I've scoured eBay for all of his first editions and I've listened to the class twice now. Between this class and Dan Brown's, there is no reason you shouldn't be on your way to a spectacular mystery/thriller in no time. Excellent Excellent Excellent. Here's hoping Nelson DeMille is the next thriller author with a class. Enjoy!

Michael S.

This is the most down-to-earth explanation of a writing life that I have encountered.