Yesterday, agent Rachelle Gardner posted a blog: The Dilemma of the Prolific Writer. Since I happen to be one of these writers, I read it several times.
Rachelle's intent was not to suggest that cranking out novels is necessarily a bad thing, but as a first time novelist, there will be some considerable waiting time, and these books may spend years on a shelf before they can be submitted.
I think one of the key points in the entry is..."they’ve finished that new project and they’re antsy to do something with it."
If you're going to write novel after novel, you can't get antsy about it, and there will come a time when you have to set aside a new work in progress to market or edit an older one. Though, understanding these challenges, I find there are some benefits to being a prolific writer as well:
1. During waiting times for feedback or revisions, there is no better way to distract yourself than to work on something new, and since you might have a year or more before it goes out for sale, you can experiment. Try different voices, narrators, play with the language, really use this as an opportunity to work on your craft.
2. Like it or not, your work is a product to be bought and sold. If you own a dress shop and only have one dress, you only have the opportunity to sell one dress. A customer comes into the store who adores your designs, but is looking for something blue, and all you have is purple. Well it just so happens I have a blue dress in the back. It might need some major alterations before it can be sold, but that's easier than making one from scratch.
3. Break it up and sell it for parts. Agent says, "I'd really like to see a scene where elephants trample through a suburban neighborhood." Luck behold, I just wrote a scene in a new book where dinosaurs trample through a suburban neighborhood! I can change the dinosaurs to elephants, insert the character names from my older manuscript, rework the language and dialogue, and it's done. I can always insert some other terrifying scene into the new manuscript later.
Are you a prolific writer or do you take a break between manuscripts and brainstorm? What are the benefits to your process?