“A small task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”
Our boy Anthony was no spasmodic Hercules! Once he decided to become a writer, he embraced his newfound calling with vigor and intensity. He also adopted a strict writing regimen and adhered to it with unwavering devotion. Using this strategy, he managed to produce more than 45 novels; today, some of them are ranked beside those of Charles Dickens and George Eliot.
His productivity is all the more astonishing when you consider the fact that he spent many years of his life laboring in the vineyards of the postal systems of Ireland and England. In short, for much of his writing career, he had a day job — and yet he managed to write book after book after book.
Now, I have no idea what drove him to write so much. After many ups and downs, I know his mother became a fairly successful writer and supported her family with her pen. And Anthony himself never had any qualms about saying that he wrote to earn a buck; his grandest themes include money and power. His muse, whoever she was, seemed to have had a very practical bent.
But I digress. What’s important here — our big takeaway, to my mind — is that Anthony rode his writing horse steadily and regularly. He established a quota system for himself when it came to his literary output, and come hell or high water, he seems to have stuck to it. And within this framework, he gave himself the freedom to play, to invent, to imagine, to create worlds.
Finding time to write: This is a challenge so many of us face. There are so many things that seduce us away from the page. Is there something that Trollope can teach us? “A small task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.” Surely, an idea worth repeating — and pondering. Write on!