I get asked a lot about how Scott manages to write as fast as he does. I guess people are too frightened to ask him. Or something.
Here’s the background on the nine books he’ll have published from March 2004 to September 2006:
He started the first Midnighters book in early 2002. He’s since written books 2 & 3 of the Midnighters trilogy, So Yesterday, the three Uglies books, Peeps, The Last Days (which is my fave) and is well on his way with the first Leviathan book. That’s nine plus books in four and a bit years. Not quite as fast as the publishing schedule makes it look, but still plenty fast.
For comparison: during that time I’ve written four books—Magic or Madness, Magic Lessons and Magic’s Child (and I’m still rewriting), plus another book that didn’t work out—I’m also halfway through another one, and I’ve edited Daughters of Earth. Many would say that’s a decent output, but in that time Scott’s written five more books than I have. Five! (And, no, I’m not going to figure out how many books Meg Cabot published during that time.)
But he’s also been sick more often than me. Lots more and lots worse (shingles, anyone?). Writing that fast and that diligently—Scott, like Meg Cabot, writes really good books—isn’t sustainable. It broke his brain and his body. He’s on the mend now, and has a much less gruelling schedule ahead: only one book a year.
The problem is that when you write three or more books a year you never have time for anything else. You turn in the draft of one book and immediately have to turn to rewrites on another, then to checking copyedits, or page proofs on yet another. There’s never ever a break and eventually your brain blows up. (I’d love to know how Meg Cabot does it. Maybe she has clones.)
On the other hand, he could be making a living doing—I don’t know—pretty much anything else. Writing, afterall, is (mostly, or at least, sometimes) fun. Not to mention that Scott’s previous gruelling schedule is how come he’s now able to afford to write just one book a year (and under his own name too). Lots of gruel first before you can live a life of non-gruel. (If you’re lucky, that is.)
Writing fast, it turns out, can be amazing for your career. Having all those books out so fast is what made Scott a name in Young Adult lit land so quickly. If you have a bunch of books out every year your name is less likely to disappear off the face of the earth.
It’s why I plan to up my own productivity to two novels a year. You know, if I can actually write that fast and still produce words that hang together okay, which, obviously, remains to be seen. Not many people can. Writing fast isn’t a necessary ingredient for being a good writer. But it can help if you want to make a living as a writer.
Wish me luck!