John Grisham’s secret to 45 books
Let’s get rid of an illusion. You won’t become a successful writer by writing this one book, having it on the New York times bestseller list for weeks, getting an amazing film or Netflix deal and becoming rich. This is not the way we can succeed as writers. It’s just a dreamy version we want to believe in, but it’s not the truth.
Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.
Written Word Media has conducted research that is, let’s say, quiet sobering, because they found out that authors who earn 60K or more per year from their books, from their writing, they have at least 20 books. How do you feel about that number? For me, I feel overwhelmed because I think there’s no way I can write 10 or 20 books or more.
And it’s quite a number that’s really overwhelming. But how did they do it? I want to clarify one thing. Those authors have been in the industry for at least a decade, so to write 20 books is really takes: time. It doesn’t mean that you cannot earn money from your books before that, before being in the industry for five or 10 years, no.
But to earn a stable good income from your books, the first one thing that you need is time.
Now, John Grisham has written over 45 titles, and this number is just, it’s mind blowing, isn’t it? In all fairness, he has taken 30 years to write over at 45 titles. But, uh, for me, John Grisham is an example as an author for perseverance., productivity, for staying in the game for over 30 years, and writing and writing and writing. He actually said in an interview that he needs approximately only six month to write a novel, which is amazing. So he’s an example, an endurance in productivity and in excellence, because his books are obviously best sellers and have been made into great movies and so on.
And John Grisham has a secret. It’s quite simple, but it’s really powerful. So if you follow this rule, this principle that he has, you might end up being the next John Grisham in 30 years. And what is the secret? It’s a simple rule that has helped him through 30 years of writing, and it’s: write at least one page per day.
I’m not sure how he defines one page and how much that actually is. It’s quite hard to define in this day of age with digital writing and writing in Scrivener, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s a simple principle of focusing on the small daily things. So if he would have focused on writing 45 titles or becoming a best seller author, or having film deals, you would have never done anything.
Instead, he focused on writing one, at least one page per day. And that’s it. It’s a really simple rule, but it’s a rule that has taken him from being a nobody to being John Grisham. Why do we have to focus on the small daily things instead of focusing on this overwhelming task? Because what settles in is what is called paralysis by analysis. Maybe you’ve heard of that already, but what it means is that if we focus on the big things we have to achieve, like even like the big task of writing a novel, which is a huge undertaking in itself. If you focus on building a writing career, or if we start comparing ourselves to the John Grishams of this world and the Stephen Kings and the J. K. Rowlings.
We might never even write one page. Instead, we have to focus on this one small thing daily. Like Stephen King, he has another rule. He writes 2000 words per day. It’s quite a lot if you think about it, but, for him, it has helped him write bestsellers and stay in the game for years and years and years.
So don’t fall victim to the paralysis by analysis, by looking at people who are successful already. Instead, focus on this one small thing. Adapt this rule into your daily writing life. So what are you doing daily to advance your writing career? Or let me ask it another way: what can you do daily to advance your writing career?
Most of us, we have a busy life. We have a day job. We have a family. We have things to do. We have stuff we have to run to, errands to run. So ask yourself, really honestly, what can you fit into this daily life to move your author writing career forwards even by a little bit. So for example, it may be only 500 words per day.
It’s not much. It might be 15 minutes per day, which is also right. But think about where you can fit it into your daily life with this really important: do it every day. Give yourself a rule that is realistic for you. 500 words, 15 minutes, whatever it is, and follow this rule every single day.
Focus on moving the needle for your author career today, and then you will be successful. And who knows, maybe in 30 years, you’ll become the next John Grisham.