In this blog post, we delve into the secrets behind famous authors’ high word counts and give you tips to help you achieve similarly spectacular results.
7 Extraordinary Authors With Extraordinary Word Counts
Estimated word count: 4.5 million
In 1990, novelist Robert Jordan unleashed the first book in his epic series, The Wheel Of Time, on the imagination of a million fans. And then, it seems, he just kept on writing and writing…
This author was known for his intricate and immersive worldbuilding. During intense writing sessions, he would completely lose himself in creating this authentic and rich fantasy world.
When he wasn’t writing, he did meticulous research and kept detailed notes and intricate maps to keep track of the multiple characters and complex plots. While he didn’t stick to a daily word count target, he would spend hours – often entire days – in marathon writing sessions.
In 2007, he sadly passed away before he could wrap The Wheel of Time. The series was completed by another author from the notes Jordan left behind.
George R. R. Martin
Estimated word count: 4 million
Time magazine once called him the American Tolkien and the author of the series A Song Of Fire And Ice has certainly lived up to the title.
Martin likens his unique writing process to that of a gardener. From an organic seed of an idea, his plotting evolves more naturally, which allows for the notorious twists and turns in the complex plot.
Of course, this approach also makes the story longer – which has no doubt added to his staggering word count.
Estimated word count: 3.5 million
This Victorian novelist could teach today’s athletes a lesson in the power of discipline. The author of the Chronicles Of Barsetshire knew firsthand the value of consistency and he diligently followed a strict routine.
With a highly structured daily writing schedule, he would start at five in the morning and finish his daily word quota before heading to his job at the Post Office.
With a goal of writing 250 words every 15 minutes, Trollope used a watch to keep track of his time. He believed this ‘time lock’ would stop him from procrastinating. Well, it certainly contributed to his prodigious output of words. In fact, legend has it that if he finished one novel in the middle of his word target, he would simply start the next novel on the same page.
For Trollope, writing was not just a talent, but a craft that required effort and continuous improvement.
Estimated word count: 3 million
When Proust set out to capture the subtle intricacies of time, memory, and human desire in the printed word, he delved into over a couple of million words in his seven-volume magnum opus before finding the answer.
The author of In Search Of Lost Time was well known for his stream-of-consciousness technique to explore the inner viewpoints and perceptions of his characters.
However, the French genius’s writing idiosyncrasies have made him equally famous. For example, he only wrote in a soundproof room to limit noise or distraction. When he wasn’t in a cork-lined study, he loved to write in bed in his pajamas, usually in the early morning.
A cup of coffee was never far from his side – he believed caffeine gave him the clarity to stay focused while writing. Despite the peculiar and fussy nature of his writing schedule, it may explain the secret of his exceptional productivity.
Estimated word count: 3 million
Here is another writer who stands behind the near religious importance of consistency. Besides being the master of tales that keep us awake with the light on, Stephen King is also one of the most prolific authors of our time.
The man behind bestsellers like The Shining, It, and Billy Summers writes every day – including his birthday and Christmas Day. King sets a daily 2,000-word count target and, like Trollope and Proust, he prefers to write in the morning while listening to a playlist that captures the mood and tone of the work in progress.
He believes that every writer should have a dedicated space to write. In his case, it is an office with a desk and comfortable chair, and a bookshelf crammed with reference books.
In his memoir, On Writing, King mentions you should always keep your desk in a corner and away from any view – to help you feel ‘trapped’ or locked in the story.
This approach has not only honed his skills as a novelist of immense scope but also helped him to produce an extensive and impressive body of work.
Estimated word count: 2.5 million
The writer behind The Neapolitan Novels is not only remarkably productive but also possesses a fondness for anonymity. Elena Ferrante is, in fact, a pseudonym for an Italian author. She wants the work to speak for itself – without the hoopla of literary fame.
With stories revolving around themes of gender, friendship, and identity, she spends a lot of time on research before putting pen to paper.
Ferrante has mentioned that she is a creature of discipline and routine. While there is not much information available on her day-to-day habits, it is clear that she keeps a regular writing schedule, as reflected in her mind-boggling word count.
Estimated word count: 2 million
As one of the most famous Romantic writers of the 19th century, Victor Hugo amassed an impressive word count writing classics such as Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and The Man Who Laughs.
Much like the other authors listed here, the French master storyteller believed in dedicated writing time, typically in the early morning. His writing sessions could also be long and intense; he would write for hours without breaks.
While he preferred seclusion and solitude to write, he could just as easily write in busy cafés or while travelling.
Hugo’s writing was popular, in France and internationally, and brought him fame and, more importantly, money. To keep this financial stability, he kept a strong work ethic and unwavering dedication to his craft. You can bet it wasn’t often that he didn’t complete a project or miss a deadline.
5 Ways To Increase Your Word Count As A Novelist
Write every day
Consistency, routine, and discipline are everything in writing – so don’t let the writing muscle get weak. By committing to writing every day, you will strengthen your skills and boost your word count.
Whether it is 500 words or 2 000 words, make it a point to sit down and write daily. Treat it like an exercise routine that you can’t skip. The more you write, the easier it becomes produce more words.
The Early Bird Gets The Worm
Getting up early in the morning to start on your writing project will give you the solitude and clarity you need to be more productive.
Set your alarm clock a little earlier and use that extra time to dive into your writing project. The early morning hours are often quieter, with fewer distractions and interruptions.
Tackle A Target
Set yourself a time limit or word-count goal each day – and record it on a spreadsheet or notebook. A goal will motivate you to push past any hurdles and keep writing.
This will give you a sense of growing accomplishment. Jot down how many words you want to write each day or how much time you want to dedicate to writing.
A Room Of Your Own
Find a dedicated and organised space to receive your muse. If you don’t have a study or home office, set up a little writing nook or corner. When you enter this writing space, your mind will no doubt switch into writing mode.
Deadlines Before Dreams
Mark your calendar with the date on which you want to complete your story or novel. Work out a realistic daily or weekly word count.
Setting deadlines is vital to keep your writing on track. Decide when you want to finish your project and break it down into smaller, manageable milestones. In this way, you will stay motivated and focused.
Why not write the book you have always dreamed of? How To Write A Book (online)
The Final Word
If all else fails, take inspiration from Marcel Proust by slipping into silk pajamas, brewing a cappuccino, and giving it your all.
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