I’M NOT USUALLY one to eulogize commercial success, but when it comes to books I can’t help but be astounded by the sheer volume of books the authors below have produced. Between them they have published over 275 books. It is almost inhuman: it should be! Total sales figures are equally insane: over 1 billion copies sold world-wide.
As with anything, I am like most people, curious as to what lies behind outstanding people in their fields. It’s a common human need, an almost senseless curiosity as if by uncovering who the person is, we too might share in their success by emulating what they do. But humans are equally stupid. Nobody can be anyone else but themselves, but we fool ourselves into thinking if we try harder, if we change our habits, if we just do something they do, things will come easy, life will never be the same. Maybe, maybe not. See for yourself.
WRITING HABITS OF AUTHORS FROM ANOTHER PLANET
Stephen King – He writes every day. I don’t doubt he takes a break every now and again, but the sheer volume of books he has written are a testament to a ravenous work ethic. In interviews he has spoken of writing ten thousand words a day for some projects which is incredible output. That’s a novel in ten days. King used to outline, but just sits down and writers now and rarely takes notes either. In slang terms he’s a pantser, allowing his creativity to fuel the story as it happens rather than meticulous planned chapters. He also eschews note taking, but I can’t agree with him on that.
John Grisham – Works hard in the morning through to lunch time; 5 hours~ nearly every day. To sell his debut, A Time to Kill, he ordered a 1000 copies of his own book, of a 5000 print run, and peddled them library to library, taking over thirty book parties to shift them all. He doesn’t discuss his writing habits as much as others but having previously been a lawyer, I’m sure he puts that attention to detail and thorough analysis into his books.
Dean Koontz – He will write up to 20 drafts of one page. Like King, once an outliner, Koontz doesn’t anymore and with his vast experience it’s not surprising he doesn’t feel the need to. Spends 10+ hours each day, 6 days a week writing. That is phenomenal, and what struck me was the fact he said the long stints writing help him to immerse himself in the storyworld without breaking his concentration, something I’ve definitely experienced as a beneficial aspect of extended alone time sitting in front of a screen focusing on one story.
James Patterson – Writes every day, often balancing multiple projects. Still hand writes his outlines up to 80 pages. The controversial thing about James Patterson is the fact that he outsources some of his projects and has collaborators which explains some of the phenomenal yearly publishing. He is also rumoured to have ghost writers, although how prevalent they would have been in the early days is uncertain, but it does tarnish his reputation from a purists perspective. Arguably the most business savvy as well.
The overriding factor between them all is work ethic. Hardly ground breaking, but easy to forget at times. Additionally not all of them were immediate successes. None of them were really. Between first book and major success there was years in between, bar perhaps Grisham. Don’t give up. Keep writing. And regardless of your schedule, make time.