Over the weekend, I came across an article by Stephen King on The New York Times website. King talked about whether or not a writer can be too prolific. I found this to be an interesting topic and one I continually found myself thinking about. It never occurred to me that there may be such a thing as too much writing. To me, if you have the ideas, time, and ability you should be writing. A lot of writing in turn produces a lot of books- what’s wrong with that? I know literary critics are often harsh on authors who produce a lot of product. They often aren’t taken seriously in the “intellectual” literary world because how could someone produce high quality, perfect work in just a few months? Quantity has a history of automatically devaluing your work when it comes to critics and publishing professionals. Our world is constantly evolving and it’s about time that way of thinking changes along with it.
King highlighted a couple of very interesting points in his article. My favorite line from the article is, “No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.” It irks me that an author could be passed over solely due to the number of books he/she has to their name. Assumptions should not be made before the research is completed. Looking at King’s book rooster of over 55 books, it wouldn’t be uncommon for one to think that he is just turning out junk after junk just to get books published. But, what about actually picking up one of his books? If you do, you will find that the quality, despite the quantity, is certainly not lacking. King, along with the many other authors he mentioned in his article, deserve just as much high literary praise as anyone else. Quantity does not equate to quality, no matter which way you look at it.
I also found much meaning in King’s reasoning to be prolific, “But I also understand that life is short, and that in the end, none of us is prolific. The creative spark dims, and then death puts it out.” Our lives are not prolific, death is the end game for us all. With our death, our ability to write and create dies as well. As writers, our worst fear is to die before we had a chance to say everything we wanted. Why not take full advantage of our gift while we have it? We need to make the most out of the life we are living, while we are living it. If you want to write 60 books, write 61.
As King concludes, prolificacy is not a bad thing if it’s used correctly. We want our work to be polished, thought out, and valuable. For some, that takes years. For others, it could only take weeks. We all work at our own speeds. We all have our own processes.It doesn’t mean one end product is any better than the next. Don’t ever shy away from writing because you are afraid of producing too much. Let the critics do their job (and ignore them if you have to) and you do yours- write. Write on.