Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This Petty Pace

We're reading Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope in one of my classes right now. Great book, by the way.

As my professor cheerily rattled off information about Trollope in class, it slowly dawned on me that Trollope puts most of us to shame. The man was a writing machine. He pumped out words and pages and novels using a rigorous and merciless system that makes my best efforts at time-management look like a 3rd-grader driving a oil-tanker.

According to his autobiography*, he wrote 250 words every 15 minutes for 2.5 hours a day, producing 2500 words (or 10 pages). That's 70 pages a week. Or 2100 pages a month, if you prefer to think of it that way. Ultimately, he wrote 47 novels using this system. Are you feeling inferior yet? I am. I don't even think I read at the pace at which Trollope wrote.

It gets better. He did all of this in addition to holding a full-time job. And computers didn't exist. So he did all of this writing by hand. Suddenly my enormous research papers whose deadlines are looming looked small and insignificant. Trollope could write more in 15 minutes by hand than most of us can write in an hour on a computer. Did I mention that he also had a full-time job?

I'm not quite sure what to do with all of this terrifying information yet, but I'm thoroughly intimidated. And I've come to a couple conclusions:
  1. I could be far, far more productive than I am.
  2. In the time that I spend procrastinating every day, Trollope wrote about 1000 words.
  3. In the time that I spend on Facebook every day, he wrote another 1000 words.
  4. I'm inspired to enact some kind of routine for both reading and writing this summer.
  5. I will never procrastinate on a research project again.
  6. All of the above are true except #5.
*Trollope, Anthony. An Autobiography of Anthony Trollope. New York: Dodd, Meade, and Co., 1922.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I love it.

I don't write, but if I apply this to my practicing habits (or non-habits), people like this make me feel like climbing under a rock!