In regard to the work habits of professional authors, Robertson Davies insisted that there are just two kinds of writers, "gushers" and "tricklers." Take a moment to consider which category you fall into.
[James] Thurber was a gusher; for one story which was 20,000 words when finished, he wrote a total of 240,000, and fifteen different versions. It is interesting that the torrential Thurber is the one who talked most about that dread of all writers - drying up. . . . Frank O'Connor was also a gusher; he rewrote some of his stories even after they had been published.Click on "comments" to let us know whether you think of yourself as a gusher or a trickler--and if you're content to be one or the other.
The tricklers may be represented by William Styron, who says: ''I can't turn out slews of stuff each day. I wish I could. I seem to have some neurotic need to perfect each paragraph--each sentence, even--as I go along.'' Dorothy Parker, also a trickler, said: ''I can't write five words but I change seven!''
The industry of the gushers commands respect; Joyce Cary, Frank O'Connor, and [Truman] Capote--we see them writing and revising, rejecting pages by the handful, and finally piecing their work together from the mass. But the tricklers have an agony of their own; they cannot continue until the last line written is as right as they can make it. Both methods seem to take about an equal amount of time.
(Robertson Davies, A Voice from the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading, rev. ed. Penguin, 1990)
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