Many have written about Anthony Trollope’s work production. He began his workday at 5:30am. He thought that in three hours, a man can do all the writing that he should do in a full day. Trollope tried to write 250 words every fifteen minutes. In this way, he produced at least three volumes a year. He wrote 67 books, most of them three volume novels. In actuality, he wrote approximately 150 books.
Reflecting on Trollope’s biography, I have retrieved several key points:
- He brings to me a new respect for the development of character. He was not, by his own critique, very concerned with plot. He focused his attention on character. I would rather focus on both.
- He maintained his prodigious output, while working full time at the post office. This is evidence that I can continue generating content while performing my other duties.
- He seemed to write with that stark honesty which often marks the best authors. His personal critique seems unflinching. I can learn from this. It reminds me of my earlier observations on the importance of self-honesty.
- He approached the whole task of writing almost as if he was a blue-collar tradesman. He wrote for the money. He did so unapologetically. And while I do not write for the money, I respect his internal clarity.
- (Most of all instructive for me) He preserved his morning sessions with an almost unflinching, even sacred respect. He held himself to the timetable consistently. He logged his words, and started at the same time each morning. Trollope had a groomsman who brought him tea at 5:30am each morning. This was a device that kept him up and on schedule. Such devices have proven to be useful for me also.
All in all, I find Trollope’s perspective to be encouraging. I think his work demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of his fast writing pace. I think there is a better strategy. I think there are some kinds of writing which can be done rapidly, and other kinds of writing in which one should take more deliberate time. I think there is a way to combine the emphasis so that maximum productivity is achieved.