Prolific Writers

Prolific authors write; they don't just dream about it. A good example is Georges Simenon of Inspector Maigret fame. He writes a book quickly, at one sitting so to speak. The first draft of each chapter is written longhand in a single afternoon. The following morning he transcribes it with his typewriter, revising and rewriting as he types. The afternoon is spent writing the next chapter, but before this happens he outlines a plan for the novel.

Perhaps one should do as Charles Dickens did. Early in his life he learned shorthand as a reporter and would write many of his novels first in this manner. He also was a prolific writer, in shorthand and longhand, no typewriter or computer for him. A man of great energy and vitality, he wrote voraciously but he did many other things as well.

Anthony Trollope, another 19th century novelist was also a prolific writer who adhered to a very strict schedule for work. He invariably arose at 5:30 am and wrote until 11:00 whereupon he breakfasted and spend the remainder of the day in personal activity. As a result, he was able to write 47 novels and 16 books. He was methodical worker who considered writing as a trade, probably one of the reasons his books have lost esteem.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) is another prolific writer of the 19th century who wrote from midnight to dawn almost every day of his life, thus turning out a million words per year. Although he was prodigious he was always poor and that might account for his abundant output.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) like Balzac was a prolific French writer of the 19th century. He too spewed out poetry and novels at an unbelievable rate. His most famous novels are The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, but they are a small example of the many works that he produced at the amazing rate of over a million words a year.

If these writers-with paper, pen, and pencil-could effect the volume of writing they did, then writers today should easily do as much. Writers today have computers and word processors, with spell checkers and grammar checkers, and other aids that make the process easy and enjoyable. Probably what is lacking is the focus and vision that these writers had. Perhaps lives today are too full of computers, television, films, theater, music, and other distractions that impinge on the writer's time. Yet is possible with planning and discipline to put ideas to paper in poems, stories, novels, articles, essays, etc. Although the competition to be published probably exceeds that of writer of the 19th century and the 20th century, the way to publication is more varied and available.

Traditional publishers are being replaced by electronic publishers who now print books on demand or to order. Soon the publishing industry and booksellers will have to wake up to this new phenomenon and change the way they do business to satisfy the new prolific writers.

Charles O. Goulet has a BA in history and a BEd in English literature. Several of his novels have been published and are available at Amazon. com, Amazon. ca, Barnes and Noble and many other bookstores.

In The News:

Opinion | Why I Write  The New York Times
Write-in for Chalich  The Spokesman-Review

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