NaNoWriMo: Being Shamed By Enid Blyton

Having written over half the 50,000 word total for NaNoWriMo in under 10 days, I'm feeling reasonably proud of myself. But there are always professional writers who can write effectively at a much higher speed. Case in point: legendary children's author Enid Blyton.

In Barbara Stoney's Enid Blyton: A Biography, a letter from Blyton demonstrates just how productive she could be. On January 28 1955, Blyton wrote to Peter McKellar, a psychologist who was working on a book about creative processes, on January 28 1955, and casually threw out the following revelation:

I have just finished a book for Macmillans — the 8th in a popular series that has been translated into many languages. I began it on Monday, and finished it this afternoon (Friday). It is 60,000 words long and flowed like its title (River of Adventure).

Note that Blyton was writing onto a manual typewriter, so there wasn't much option to change things as she went. Her working methods were quite particular, however, and wouldn't suit most part time writers:

All the same I know quite well that if I had had to miss even a day in the writing of it I might have had to give it up. Once the river is damned anywhere, it won't flow again in that particular direction — which is why I must write a book at 'full flow'.

So I don't aspire to those speeds, but I wouldn't say no to occasional lashings of ginger beer. Onward!


    Enid Bylton may write fast... BUT:
    Let me tell you the plot to her "Famous Five" Books.

    "The children meet up and go on an adventure and find a suspicious person and a nice child. Eventually the suspicious person turns out to be bad and is the guardian to the nice child. The suspicious person traps them all in an underground place. One of them escapes and lets the others out whilst trapping the suspicious person underground. The children call the police in and the nice person is found a new family situation."

    Now we have the plot lets make books!
    1. Five On a Treasure Island (1942)
    Underground: Dungeons under Kirin Castle
    2. Five Go Adventuring Again (1943)
    Underground: Secret tunnel under their own house.
    3. Five Run Away Together (1944)
    Underground: Dungeons under Kirin Castle (again!)
    4. Five Go To Smuggler's Top (1945)
    Underground: Caves under Smugglers Top.
    5. Five Go Off in a Caravan (1946)
    Underground: Caves under some random hill.
    Bad clowns. Nice child who looks after Monkey.
    7. Five Go Off to Camp (1948)
    Underground: Train tunnels
    Nasty local farmer/smuggler. His step son.

    Memory is blurry on names of the
    suspicious person and nice child in all the above books. But rest assured they are there.

    But she did write nicely.
    "Secret Seven" I don't remember being so much the same.

    I discuss the genius of Enid Blyton's writing in my book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
    Stephen Isabirye

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