Monday, September 23, 2013

he took a fresh sheet of paper and began

The profession of writing never produced a more assiduous and methodical practitioner than Anthony Trollope. He scheduled in advance the number of words which he proposed to exact from himself week by week and month by month. He entered in his diary his daily progress to make sure that he delivered. Early in the morning, at 5:30, after his coffee, during one long period of his life, he sat down resolutely at his desk and wrote for three hours. He did not stare at the wall or gaze out the window or pace the floor; he put words on paper—250 of them every fifteen minutes. At the end of three hours he ended his session and proceeded to his duties with the Post Office. When he traveled, he wrote on trains or aboard ship with the same relentless perseverance. If he finished one manuscript in the middle of his apportioned writing period, he took a fresh sheet of paper and began the next.

from page ix of the introduction, by Harlan Hatcher, to the Modern Library edition of Barchester Towers and The Warden by Anthony Trollope. Bear in mind also that Trollope had a full time job at the Post Office, a job that involved much travel and the writing of long and tedius reports. We also learn from Mr Hatcher that the combined sales of Trollope's first three novels during their first five years in print was fewer than a thousand copies.


  1. This is not a description of my routine.

  2. It's pretty close to mine. I write about 250 words every 15 minutes when I'm drafting. I don't get up and write for three hours before work, though.

    Do you still wear the cape when you write? That's what we all really want to know.

  3. I haven't been wearing the cape, partly because it's summer and partly because I washed it and it no longer feels soft and comforting but more itchy and aggravating. But maybe if I start wearing it again I'll be more productive. Like Trollope-Bailey productive.

  4. Maybe a hat instead of a cape, at least for the warm months? Or a dry cleaner for the cape?