As you may know, I’ve never been able to get through a Nora Roberts novel. I’ve always gotten bored or otherwise lost interest. So then why would I say that I want to write like her?
It’s not a joke. I seriously admire Nora Roberts as an author, even though her fiction is not for me. Here’s why.
Look at Nora Roberts’s history as a writer, even from the very beginning. She got started in 1979, when she first put pencil to paper, literally, to write a novel:
She pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down [a story she had made up]… Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981. [emphasis added]
Every new writer has his first manuscript rejected, by a publisher or by the market (and usually both). But not every new writer produces “several” manuscripts within a 2-year timeframe. Most new writers, unsure of themselves and with unhoned skills and process, use up years completing their first novel. And they may never complete a second. But not Nora. No, right from leaving the starting gate, she churned out manuscript after manuscript.
Since Irish Thoroughbred, she has published 211 books. That’s more than 7 per year, or about one every 7 weeks. Nora Roberts wins NaNoWriMo every single month of the year, from January through December.
Talk about being a prolific writer.
Truthfully, I don’t know how to get there from here. How to increase my story output to 100,000 words every 7 weeks. At this point, I don’t even know how to develop a novel-length story in 7 weeks, much less how to complete it. Something always occurs halfway through writing the story that requires me to go back to the drawing board, and that’s to be expected. Nora must encounter those things all the time as well, but she’s a professional, with a writing process that’s been honed through decades.
What’s the first step? Things I know work:
- Set sustainable daily goals and weekly deadlines, and hold to them.
- Know your writing process, continually refine it, and set aside time to work it every day.
- Recognize impending procrastination, and thwart it.
- Focus on one project at a time.
- Get a rough story out, as quickly as possible, then develop it afterward.
- Get the first draft out fast, warts and all, and then fix it afterward.
- Use a one-pass revision process. (From first draft to final in a single edit.)
What other tips can you recommend for writing more prolifically?