Writer by day, publisher, editor, teacher, writing coach, audiobook narrator, conference/event organizer, podcast host, real estate investor/manager by night.
William Bernhardt is the recipient of a number of literary awards and author of more than forty fiction and non-fiction books, including the Ben Kincaid legal thrillers and the Red Sneaker books on writing. He is the founder of the Red Sneaker Writing Centre, which hosts the annual WriterCon in Oklahoma City. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife and children and enjoys outdoor adventures in his spare time. His latest legal thriller, The Last Chance Lawyer is out now.
Could you describe what you do when you’re not writing?
All the other jobs. Some of it is related to being a writer, some of it is not. I’ve developed the Red Sneaker Writers Center to provide books, programs, and instruction to aspiring writers. It’s been quite successful and I’ve seen many writers in my programs go on to publish – more than forty in the last few years. I host an annual writers conference – WriterCon in Oklahoma City every Labor Day weekend. I think it’s the best conference in terms of being genuinely helpful to people who want to write and publish. The Red Sneaker Writers podcast comes out every other week.
Did you mean in my (dwindling) spare time? I play the piano, love board games and puzzles, and of course read constantly.
Do you have a writing schedule?
I write every day, usually starting early in the morning. That’s the only way to make sure it gets done – do it first. I’ve been doing it for more than thirty years now. It seems to work for me.
Do you have a target of how many pages or words you write in a day?
No, I write till time runs out or I’m tired of it and want to do something else. Several hours, at the least.
Where do you usually write?
At home, in a comfy chair. Occasionally, when I’m really pressed for time, I dictate my work, which involves mindless pacing around the vacant upstairs bedroom.
Do you like to write alone or with a writing group?
Alone. I’m happy to show my work to people after it’s finished, but writing is something you do alone.
Ideally, what time of the day is the best time for you to write? What do you do when you can’t write at this time?
Early in the morning. It’s rare that I can’t achieve this just by getting up a little earlier, but occasionally I’ll have to do it later somehow.
Do you get inspiration from your day job? Why or why not?
I used to be a trial lawyer, and of course I’ve used that legal education in many legal thrillers, most recently in The Last Chance Lawyer, my new bestseller.
If you had the option, would you choose to quit your day job and write full time?
I feel like I do write full time. But it’s not something you can do twelve hours a day, at least not most days. Better to write first, then do the marketing and promotion work that is part of being a writer, then move to other projects, depending upon what is most pressing at that moment.
What do you do if you fail to follow your writing schedule or don’t get to write as often as you’d like? Does it affect your day/s?
What do I do? Get anxious. I don’t think a writer is ever as happy on days when they haven’t gotten pages written. That’s why it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.
Between your day job and writing, how do you fit in time with your family/partner/social circle, etc.?
My wife is also a novelist and stays very busy herself, but we always carve out time to spend together. It’s not hard. We like each other.
How long does it typically take you to finish writing a book?
I have no idea. I don’t think there’s an average. Some books come quicker than others, and my schedule has an impact, too. Summer used to be harder when I was raising children, because vacations throw your schedule into a tizzy.
Do you have any other advice on keeping up with writing while juggling a day job?
If you plan to write, odds are you’re going to do other projects as well, either to fill your days or to supplement your income, or both. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Getting out in the world and interacting with other people is good for writers. How else are you going to get material to write about?