People often seem bemused by my productivity; when I get together with fellow authors, they sometimes jokingly refer to me as “the adult” in our group. I get this—for a lot of them, writing is more of an instinctual process. Sitting and talking about the business side of things, or their goals for writing, flies in the face of the almost accidental way they’ve approached their careers. And it works for them; they create great books I’m always excited to read.
However, sometimes there’s also this sense—from fans, from the community, from us authors in general—that whispers that being productive isn’t a good thing. It’s like society feels artists should naturally try to hide from deadlines, structure, or being aware of what we do and why we do it. As if, because art is supposed to be painful, we shouldn’t enjoy doing our work—and should need to be forced into it.
If there’s one thing that has surprised me over the last ten years, it’s this strangeness that surrounds my enjoyment of my job, and the way my own psychology interfaces with storytelling. People thank me for being productive, when I don’t consider myself particularly fast as a writer—I’m just consistent. Fans worry that I will burn out, or that secretly I’m some kind of cabal of writers working together. I enjoy the jokes, but there’s really no secret. I just get excited by all of this. I have a chance to create something incredible, something that will touch people’s lives. In some cases, that touch is light—I just give a person a few moments to relax amid the tempest of life. In other cases, stories touch people on a deep and meaningful level. I’ll happily take either scenario.
Almost thirty years ago now, I encountered something remarkable in the books I read. Something meaningful that I couldn’t describe, a new perspective, new emotions. I knew then that I had to learn to do what those writers were doing. Now that I have the chance to reach people the same way, I’m not going to squander it.
I want to mention something else that helps me be productive—and that’s allowing myself deviations to keep myself interested. I’ve told people before that I wrote the Alcatraz books to give me a break between Mistborn novels. If I’m able to refresh myself on other projects, I don’t get burned out on the big epics. (Which are my true love, but can be very demanding on me mentally).