And Here’s What Writers Used to be Like

A quick overview of Isaac Asimov, science fiction writing great and one of the most prolific writers in recent history. It doesn’t really tell us how he got all those pages written, but it sure as hell shows us what our goals can be:

Isaac Asimov wrote almost 500 books in his lifetime—these are the six ways he did it
by Charles Chu

If there’s one word to describe Isaac Asimov, it’s “prolific.”

To match the number of novels, letters, essays, and other scribblings Asimov produced in his lifetime, you would have to write a full-length novel every two weeks for 25 years.

Why was Asimov able to have so many good ideas when the rest of us seem to only have one or two in a lifetime? To find out, I looked into Asimov’s autobiography, It’s Been a Good Life.

Asimov wasn’t born writing eight hours a day, seven days a week. He tore up pages, he got frustrated, and he failed over and over and over again. In his autobiography, Asimov shares the tactics and strategies he developed to never run out of ideas again.

Let’s steal everything we can.

1. Never stop learning

Asimov wasn’t just a science fiction writer. He had a PhD in chemistry from Columbia. He wrote on physics. He wrote on ancient history. Hell, he even wrote a book on the Bible.

Why was he able to write so widely in an age of myopic specialization?

Unlike modern day “professionals,” Asimov’s learning didn’t end with a degree:

I couldn’t possibly write the variety of books I manage to do out of the knowledge I had gained in school alone. I had to keep a program of self-education in process. My library of reference books grew and I found I had to sweat over them in my constant fear that I might misunderstand a point that to someone knowledgeable in the subject would be a ludicrously simple one.

To have good ideas, we need to consume good ideas too. The diploma isn’t the end. If anything, it’s the beginning.

Growing up, Asimov read everything:

All this incredibly miscellaneous reading, the result of lack of guidance, left its indelible mark. My interest was aroused in twenty different directions and all those interests remained. I have written books on mythology, on the Bible, on Shakespeare, on history, on science, and so on.

Read widely. Follow your curiosity. Never stop investing in yourself….

Read it all at QZ.COM