Prolific Authors

booksIt’s never been easier to have a book published than it is today. I don’t know how statistics compare for the big publishing houses, but a writer does not have to go that route any more. Self-publishing has lost much of the stigma attached to it ten years ago. More and more authors are going that route.

Recently I’ve been thinking of a number of well-known authors who wrote/write prolifically.

Nora Roberts aka J. D. Robb
— author of over 200 books since 1981

Catherine Cookson
— author of over 100 books from 1950 to 1998

Enid Blyton
— author of over 700 books, plays and stories from 1922 to 1968.

Grace Livingston Hill
— author of over 100 novels and numerous short stories, from 1877 to 1947

How do they DO it?

Simple. Not easy… Simple. They write. They don’t let obstacles get in the way, they are not stopped by every little upset, and they don’t wait for inspiration to come to them.

Nora Roberts

Not so long ago I was still asking myself the question:  “What happens after I write my first book? What if I can’t think of anything more to write?”

Indeed, how does Nora Roberts come up with so many ideas for her books?

In her own words…

“Ideas are infinite — writers are hardwired to think that way. We keep it fresh by using new people, mixing character types and putting them in a different setting. It’s always the first book all over again, but one idea can be told a thousand different ways. There are 88 keys on the piano, but you can make an infinite amount of music from those keys.”  – Nora Roberts

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton was my favourite author when I was growing up. She wrote for children of all ages, from tiny tots to teens. At the time, I was most familiar with her Adventure Series, and the Five Find-Outers. Later I discovered some of her boarding school stories. It wasn’t till I was an adult that I knew she was so prolific, and my own children grew up with some of her other books.

For many years, she received and read over a hundred letters a day from all over the world, from children and parents. How did she ever make time to write?

Probably in the same way she overcame anything that stood in her way…

“You’re trying to escape from your difficulties, and there never is any escape from difficulties. Never. They have to be faced and fought.”  – Enid Blyton

“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.”  – Enid Blyton

Catherine Cookson

A friend once told me she didn’t like Catherine’s writing, because the settings were so dark and gloomy. That never bothered me — I was drawn to it. Maybe it’s an outgrowth of my love of Enid Blyton’s Adventure Series, set in the 1940s in remote, rugged areas of sea, island, or mountain.

I often think of Catherine as being the feminine counterpart of another well-loved British author, Thomas Hardy. She shares his tendency to use fate and character flaws to make her main character suffer for a long time before things come to a comfortable resolution. No easy solutions there!

Catherine Cookson published her first book when she was 44. A late start for one who went on to publish over a hundred more. Yet another proof that it’s never too late to start!

Grace Livingston Hill

A couple of months ago I read a biography of her life. My head was spinning just from reading about all the activities she was involved in, and how many ways she ministered to, and helped others.

Sometimes I fret because I have no specially designated area to write. My computer is in the living room, close to the TV and Nathaniel’s computer.

Nora Roberts has a beautiful, spacious home office where she writes.

So I don’t have a home office. What kind of excuse is that?

None of the above-mentioned authors had a beautiful, quiet spot for writing at first. Not even Nora. When she got started, she was the stay-at-home mom of two small boys.

I can come up with a long list of excuses for why I am not published yet. But the most important take-away for me in my mental journeyings today is this:

“A writer never finds the time to write. A writer makes it. If you don’t have the drive, the discipline, and the desire, then you can have all the talent in the world, and you aren’t going to finish a book.”  – Nora Roberts

She knows what she is talking about. She writes for six to eight hours a day! Every day.

© Willena Flewelling


  1. Great inspiration for an aspiring writer. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Hi Willena ,
    it is very interesting to read about this Authors.
    It is true it is never too late to start and it needs discipline and desire
    to finish. But there is also a right time ,when the time is right
    it will be done 🙂
    Thank you

    • When the time is right… I keep forgetting how short a time it’s been since my older kids left home, and that I’m in my 22nd year of homeschooling. A new season of life is opening up to me, but it’s not fully here yet. Thanks for the reminder, Erika. 🙂
      Willena Flewelling recently posted…InterludeMy Profile

  3. Hi Willena,

    I enjoyed your article, and it reminded me of my early years reading. My parents had a newsagents shop that also sold books – among them Enid Blytons. I loved reading them and used to borrow them all the time from the sales counter then put them back. Rather naughty with hindsight 🙂 I also enjoyed Catherine Cookson books when I was a little older, I haven’t read any of those recently.

    I’ve never had the patience to write a whole book, but really respect those people who do – expecially when they started out and had no gurantee of success.

    Have a good weekend, Joy
    Joy Healey recently posted…Quotes About DogsMy Profile

    • It’s been a while since I read a Catherine Cookson book, too, but I’m thinking maybe soon. I’ve never fully gotten away from Enid Blyton, because my kids all like her too. Nathaniel is the only one still home, but even at age 15 he liked being read to at night. I read the entire Adventure series to him! She knew how to spin a tale!
      Willena Flewelling recently posted…Backwards Brain BicycleMy Profile

  4. Hi Willena,
    Very interesting post on authors and it takes a certain kind of person to be an author 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Joan Harrington recently posted…How To Get More Social Shares Without Being AnnoyingMy Profile

  5. ian flewelling says:

    It was interesting to read all the things that Jack London did while he was writing his books !

  6. Hi Willena,

    These authors brought me back to the days where I was reading more novels. Especially Nora Roberts. Love that quote you put there from her!

    Now, my passions are reading marketing books, financials, and some self development books.

    This reminds me that I haven’t read a good novel for quite some time. Now that Summer is here, maybe it is a good idea to pick one up to read at the beach.


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