Writing Analytics
Blog | 21 October 2020

How to Become a Prolific Writer

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It’s hard not to look in awe at writers who published dozens and hundreds of books over their lifetimes – like Agatha Christie or Terry Pratchett. It seems impossible. How did they do it?

No doubt, they were brilliant people. But their daily lives probably looked a lot like those of you and me, at least in the early days. They had jobs and families and all sorts of other commitments.

Let’s do some math. How long does it take to write a novel? That varies greatly from person to person. Let’s say about 100 days — 1,000 words per day for 80 days and 20 days of revisions (assuming 80,000 words). That is 10,000 days to write 100 novels — about 27 years.

At 1,000 words per hour, that adds up to 8,000 hours of work total. Of course, this estimate is wildly inaccurate for several reasons. But it gives us a ballpark figure. It may take you twice as long to write 1,000 words. You may take breaks and skip days. Most writers also do a lot more editing.

To put this number in perspective, if you have a full-time nine to five job, it will take you about four years to clock in 8,000 hours for your employer.

My point is this: you don’t have to write 10 hours a day every day for the rest of your life to be prolific.

Prolific writers work at a steady, sustainable pace. Day after day, they put in the work — a couple of hours of work. One book becomes ten. Ten books turn to a hundred.

It’s possible to have a life and also be a prolific writer.

Why be prolific?

Every story you finish is a lesson. And after a while, quantity becomes quality.

But more importantly, every new story is your chance to find readers and fans. It’s like buying lottery tickets. The more you have, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed. You never know what could become popular.

Write every day

Writing is a practice. If you do it every day, you will build momentum and create a habit. You don’t have to write 1,000 words every day. Be flexible with your daily goal. See our seven tips to help you write every day.

Writing daily also reinforces your identity. Writing no longer is something that you think about. It becomes something you do.

There’s more to writing than just writing

To be able to hit the ground running every day for an extended period, you’ll need a system – a way of capturing ideas, outlining them and getting them ready for drafting.

Prolific writers are efficient. What other inefficiencies do you see in your writing routine? Do you get stuck and struggle to figure out what to write next?

Developing a content pipeline is essential to maintaining a steady pace of production.

Don’t burn out

Writing a book is a huge amount of work. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the task. Burnout is real, and recovering from it might be a substantial hit to your long-term productivity.

A prolonged period of inactivity can set you back more than you think. Being prolific requires boundaries and commitment to time away the writing desk to recuperate your creative energy so that you can keep the pace for the long term.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

If you write regularly, there’s no reason why you couldn’t become a prolific writer, no matter how busy your life is.