Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prolific Writers

“Some men have only one book in them; others, a library.” –Sydney Smith

When I read on blogbooktours that Nora Roberts has written 150 books, I was stunned. How can one author be so prolific? According to her web site, her first book was published in 1981. That means she’s written an average of five-point-something (math is not my strong point) books a year for 28 years with no time off for good behavior. Whew!

I wondered what other authors are prolific writers and Google came through for me again. has a list of the 20 Most Prolific Authors and Writers in Literary History. It looks as if Nora has some catching up to do. She did not even finish in the top 20. According to the list, Mary Faulkner leads the pack at a whopping 904 books. Lauran Paine is second with 850. Prentiss Ingraham, Jozef Ignancy Kraszewski and Enid Mary Blyton tie for third place with 600 books each. L. T. Meade is at the bottom of the list with a mere 258 to her credit.

What makes their feat even more amazing is that these writers predated computers and possibly even the typewriter. Think of the number of hours they had to devote to their craft. I can only imagine the agonizing writer’s cramps these poor souls had to endure.

I ran across an article on Writing Information that mentioned Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) wrote from midnight to dawn almost every day of his life, thus turning out a million words per year. (I’m assuming this refers to his adult life and he didn’t emerge from the womb with a pen in hand.)

Sleep is something I find important to my well-being and temperament so his approach to an amazing word count won’t work for me. I’ll accept the fact I will never be a prolific writer. I’ll happily settle for writing books that number somewhere between one and a library.

Do you consider yourself a prolific writer? How much time to you spend each day writing?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Sydney Smith, Nora Roberts, Lauran Paine , Ingraham , Kraszewski , Blyton , de Balzac , Meade ,


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Certainly not that prolific! One - two a year is good for me. Besides, too many is not good either. I gave up on my favorite author when she started cranking out a book every three months. (I also noticed a dip in quality when they came out that fast, too.)

L. Diane Wolfe

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm lucky to get one book done a year. I work 4 days a week and do heavy marketing, plus spend quality time with the DH and the Rascal dog.

If I can afford t retire, I hope to push it to 2 books a year.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine writing THAT prolifically. I plan on having 3 books pub'd this year which will be a record for me. To write you also have to have a life to write about. Ya gotta do stuff. How does Nora do it? Bet she doesn't have much of a life other than writing about life through her characters.

Christine Rose said...

So NOT prolific! I struggle to find time to write, as promoting and web 2.0 stuff takes up SO MUCH TIME (not to mention traveling)...

I hope to get the point where I can write more.

One book a year is what I'm shooting for... I've got to finish this sequel soon & publish it this year... and then 3 more in the next 3 years!

Ann Parker said...

Oh wow... I'm way down in the numbers. Takes me about three years to finish one book. Not good for someone who's writing a mystery series!
Maybe as time goes on, I'll be able to speed up. But, I'm philosophical about this. I write for a living (science/technical/corporate writing) so fiction is relegated to weekends/evenings. When I'm not trying to catch up with all the blogging, emails, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. etc.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world