John Creasey’s Prolific Writing Method

John Creasey's Prolific Writing Method

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“How many words a day do I write? Between six and seven thousand. And how many hours does that take? Three on a good day, as high as thirteen on a bad one” – John Creasey

John Creasey wrote over 600 crime and sci-fi novels under his own name and 28 pseudonyms. That’s a lot of writing. Without knowing the different pseudonyms were the same author, you wouldn’t be able to guess it. The personalities of his pseudonyms were also different. In other words, the books were of very different types, from police procedural to gritty hard-boiled. And that’s just the crime novels.

How Did He Do It?

When he was ten years old, a schoolmaster told him he could be a professional writer based on one of his compositions. Creasey took that advice to heart and devoted himself to writing. At 14, he left school and went to work while continuing to write. He was fired from one job after another but continued writing. For fourteen years, no publisher would accept his work. He collected 743 rejections slips. These rejections weren’t all for books. He wrote nine books before clearing this rejection phase, so we can guess he got lots of practice writing short stories too.

His tenth book was accepted for publication. He felt that his faith in his writing ability was finally proving itself and decided to dedicate his life to writing. Most mystery writers at that time only published two books a year and that would not be enough to live on. To remedy this, he also wrote books under a number of pseudonyms, multiplying his income.

The pseudonyms never went through a long period of rejections. Therefore, it is clear that his writing ability was strong enough that every book was getting accepted under any name. In other words, his success wasn’t because he wrote a few winners and then succeeded on name recognition. He had the talent.

We Know Where He Got the Talent

He dedicated himself to writing for 14 years before getting published. That’s fourteen years of writing practice. Since he was working or in public school throughout those years, we know he didn’t take professional writing courses to go along with his practice. As with many prolific writers I’ve been reading about, I suspect Creasey never used the multiple draft method. Every book was written in one draft. That would certainly allow you to write more books.

I had suggested Martin Caiden might have written his books in one draft too in my article, “Prolific Writing Using Caidin Methods”. Ryoki Inoue said he wrote his books in one draft. He was writing up to three 100 page books a day. Barbara Cartland dictated her novels to a secretary with no mention of any revisions.

Could One Draft Be the Solution for You?

I doubt it. Unless you’ve already written many books in one draft, you aren’t likely to succeed at it. That doesn’t mean you can’t, but do you want to write 10 books before getting to one worth publishing. I think there is a better way.

Continue writing a quick first draft and then taking the time to polish it to final. As you write more books you will be putting more and more of the polish on as you write. You’ll recognize that you’re about to write something you will cut and won’t write it. You will recognize that something more will be needed here and you’ll automatically write it in.

In other words, you can fix your early bad books but with practice you will be writing good books in the first draft. The big trick will be learning to recognize when your first drafts have reached such quality that you don’t need to revise any more. Then, you too will be a prolific author.


Article by Ivan Izo.

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