10 Habits of Prolific Writers Worth Imitating

Written by A Guest Author | October 26, 2017

By T.N. Wesley 

Have you ever wanted to double or triple your daily word output? Do you dream of producing a novel every year? Other prolific writers have done it, and so can you. By imitating their daily habits, you can increase your productivity.

Below are ten habits of prolific writers which, if put to practice, will make it possible for you to produce more words every day.

1. Start early in the morning

The romantic novelist Corín Tellado (real name Maria del Socorro Tellado Lopez) wrote over 4,000 novellas and sold over 400 million of them over a 63-year writing career. Her secret? She would start writing at 5 a.m. armed, among other things, with a cup of coffee.

2. Have a plan

In her informative blog post “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day” fantasy and science author, Rachel Aaron explains how outlining helped her to increase her daily output from 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day. To put it in her own words: “If you want to write faster, the first step is to know what you’re writing before you write it.”

3. Speak it out

Romance writer Barbra Cartland  could produce 7,000 words in a single afternoon and come up with 50,000-word novels averaging two a month. She accomplished this feat by dictating her stories to her secretaries as she sat on a sofa, a hot water bottle warming her feet, and her dog cuddled next to her. Her writing habit enabled her to produce over 700 romance novels.

4. Treat it like a day job

Stop treating your writing as a hobby. Treat it as you would any other day job. On a typical day, prolific writer Nora Roberts (+ 215 books) starts the day with a 40-minute workout and at 9 a.m. goes into her office to write for 6 to 8 hours. At times she puts in a bit of extra work after dinner.

5. Multitask

Some prolific writers increase their output by working on more than one project at a time. At her peak, novelist Danielle Steele (+163 books) could work on several novels at the same time. The advantage of working on more than one project is that if you are stuck on one you can move on to another, and come back to the difficult one later.

6. Form a routine and repeat it

When writing a novel Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami (+21 books translated), does the same thing every day. He wakes up at 4 a.m., writes for 5 to 6 hours and then goes for a 10 km run or swim for 1500m; sometimes both. Afterwards he listens to some music and goes to bed at 9 p.m. He is quoted in the The Paris Review as saying : “I keep to this routine every day without variation…The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism.”

7. Work anywhere

The ability to work anywhere can greatly increase your output. Writer E.L. James wrote most of her first novel on her blackberry on her daily commute to work. Writer Ray Bradbury (27 novels  & 600+ short stories) wrote in the living room and in the company of his family. Agatha Christe (+91 books) wrote while in the bath while munching apples and drinking tea.

8. Limit or eliminate distractions

“Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram.”  This is the advice from short story writer Nathan Englander. Some writers find late nights to be tranquil.

9. Set a time limit

Some prolific writers set a specific time limit to produce a certain number of words. For years Anthony Trollope (+47 long books) would work between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. using his watch as a timer. He would force himself to produce 250 words every fifteen minutes before dashing off to his day job at the post office.

10. Keep it simple

When Isaac Asimov (+500 books) was asked by Writer’s Digest magazine what made him so prolific, he is quoted as saying: “I guess I’m prolific because I have a simple and straightforward style.”