The Prolific Procrastinator

I found and read an informative book on self-publishing, called the Six-Figure Author. It outlined all the ways to become a best-seller on Amazon. While a lot of information was enlightening, I laughed at one of the writer’s key tenets:

Write a lot of stuff, fast. The author recommends publishing a new book on the average of once every two months.

Now y’all know, if you’ve been following here, that the one thing I DON’T do is write fast.

Oh, I have spurts and spits where I can churn out a few thousand words a day. My top has been something like 25K words in 4.5 hours. I should point out, this was achieved while deathly ill and on heavy medication. It was a comedy – on purpose – and it got written, by God. It was never published, as it was offensive to nearly every soul who ever lived, and it would have taken months of editing for it to only be terrible.

Keeping up that pace? Not gonna happen. Even if I could write at that speed when I weren’t high as a kite (legally, thank you very much), even if I could create a cohesive story at that pace, I don’t routinely have four hour chunks of time in my life. I don’t even regularly have four hour chunks once a year.

Neither do most of the top novelists. If you look at what most say, it’s that they set a daily limit for themselves to hit. For some it’s 1000 words. For others, 2000. Those are achievable if you’re writing for a living. Those are achievable if you’re working, for some people. And I personally have done it before, for several months straight.

Still didn’t publish a new book every two months.

My hero is Nora Roberts, someone who defines a prolific author. She weaves her romances with intricate plot lines. Some employ metaphysical themes, others are more traditional. Nearly all of her work is based around modern themes, though because many of her latter pieces integrate metaphysical aspects, there are some overlaps. Yet prolific as she is, she doesn’t churn out a new book every other month.

Or maybe she does. I’m not sure how old she is, but she’s published over 200 romance novels. Oh, and that doesn’t count the murder mysteries she writes under the pseudonym of J D Robb.

I’m sure there are people capable of consistently writing at a fast staccato, turning out high volumes of extraordinary work. The problem is, those people are few and far between. I’m not one of them. My own perfectionism is a factor in my speed (or lack thereof.) I can write quickly when it’s non-fiction. Maybe someday I’ll perfect a fiction formula that works for me, it clicks into place, and I can shoot out best-sellers, one after another, at an insane pace. However, I suspect before I reach that point I’ll opt for another choice, one I have a sneaky suspicion is the underlying dirty little secret for the uber-prolific writers, the ones whose pace would mean writing the equivalent of War and Peace three times a year.

Like many writers, I have a ton of ideas scribbled here and there on paper and electronic media, and can craft an intricate outline of what I want to get across in my books. That means I could in theory hire a ghost writer to put the nuts and bolts together, adding my own embellishments to flesh it out. Even at that, I’m not sure it would be up to par for publishing every 8 weeks or so. But it sure would give me a hell of a running start.