Monday, 4 September 2017

The Most Prolific Writers Ever and How They Did It

I'm back from my regular research trip to Oxford and am now hard at work here in Madrid. One of the projects I've been working on is a nonfiction work titled Writing Secrets of the World's Most Prolific Authors. There are lots of books on increasing your word count, but none, as far as I know, focus on the actual methods of the amazing writers who manage to pen hundreds of books and thousands of articles.

I’m focusing on writers who have written at least 300 books and left behind plenty of information on their work methods. Also, they must be dead so I can look at their careers as a whole, they must have been active in the 20th century so their work is more applicable to the modern era, and they must have written in either English or Spanish so I can read their stuff. At the moment I have the following list: Isaac Asimov, Walter Brown Gibson, Corín Tellado, Marcial Lafuente Estefanía, Lauran Bosworth Paine, Ursula Bloom, Enid Mary Blyton, Barbara Cartland, Frederick Faust, and John Creasey. Other writers who have something worth quoting are given passing mention.

One interesting bit of advice comes from David Graham Phillips, who at the beginning of the 20th century worked as a journalist, pumping out hundreds if not thousands of articles. At night he wrote bestselling novels and short stories. He said of his method:

"I write every night, from about eleven until about four or five or six in the morning. Sometimes seven or eight. . .Let me urge you to work the same hours every day and never, never, never to let anything or anyone interfere between you and working at those hours. I write every night--seven days a week. I don't wait for mood or inspiration, and I don't give up because I don't begin right or am writing rubbish. I think it's fatal to give way to moods. And I'm not a bit afraid to throw away everything I've written, or to edit my stuff to the bone."

Can you think of any authors I should add? Can you suggest any good source material? This book will take a lot of research so it's going by fits and starts. I had a burst of writing when I first came up with the topic and searched through my personal library. Then I had another burst of productivity at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. I bought some reference materials I'll be using for the next month. Then I might have to wait until I get back to the Bodleian before I can do another round of intense research. So unlike most of my books, I can't say when I'll be done.

You can read more about the project and these incredible writers in an article I wrote for Black Gate.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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