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Old 20 January 2017, 02:05 AM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
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Reading Isaac Asimov wrote almost 500 books in his lifetime—these are the six ways he did it

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.
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Old 20 January 2017, 02:44 AM
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E. Q. Taft E. Q. Taft is offline
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I wouldn't call It's Been a Good Life his autobiography, although it contains autobiographical material (as did many other books and articles he wrote). His formal autobiography spans three books: The two-volume set In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt, which cover his life up to 1978 in extreme detail and in strict chronological order; and I, Asimov a memoir completed shortly before he died, covering his whole life, but written as a series of short essays on different events, people, and topics that were important to him.

Also, one could quibble with the notion that he wrote nearly 500 books. Of the nearly 500 he published, over a hundred were anthologies he edited or co-edited, mostly with Martin Harry Greenberg and often a third co-editor. On the other hand, if you added up all the articles and essays he published over the years that never appeared in book form (almost all of his fiction did eventually; there were three stories he never allowed to be officially reprinted for various reasons - I've read photocopies of at least two of them) , it certainly more than makes up for that hundred.

As for how, Asimov himself stressed that when it came down to it, he just loved writing, and would rather do it than just about anything else. (Once someone asked him, if he had to choose between them, would he give up writing, or sex? His answer was, "Well, I can type all day without getting tired.") He loved the physical act of writing: sitting down, putting paper in the typewriter (eventually he did switch mostly to word processing, but he never completely abandoned the typewriter), tapping away, and producing paper with words on it; also things like preparing indexes. To him, writing twelve or more hours a day wasn't a strain; it was spending time away from his typewriter that he found a chore. He stressed that this was not necessarily the way to be a good writer, but to be a prolific writer, it is essential.
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Old 20 January 2017, 02:18 PM
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ChasFink ChasFink is offline
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I'm a big fan of Asimov, and met him several times. He kissed my mother once, but that's a story for another day. The absolute readability of most of his work (particularly his science articles that explained complicated concepts to everyday people) is a clear sign that he loved to write - to communicate - and did it very well.
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