I’m suffering a rare bout of writer’s block at the moment, which I put down to lack of sleep. The second Heracles book is as good as finished and 95% edited, but I’ve decided to write a new prologue from scratch and am getting nowhere with it. I’ve already wasted two days on it, and will probably waste a third tomorrow (deadline for submission is this Friday, though I expect the publishers will be flexible).
It got me thinking about those fortunate writers who’ve managed to bang out whole works in a matter of days. After watching Rocky for the first time the other day, my wife told me Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay in three days after being inspired by a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and a relative nobody called Chuck Wepner – it took Ali until the 15th round to knock the guy out.
Stallone was also a relative nobody at the time, playing bit parts in small films. He took his screenplay for Rocky to Hollywood and was offered $350,000 for it by United Artists. However, he held out because he wanted to play the lead part himself. In the end, United Artists compromised and allowed him to make the film and star in it, but with a comparatively tiny budget of $1m. He came in just under budget and the film was a storming success, inspiring one of the most successful franchises in movie history.
John Boyne wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in under three days, which is truly amazing. Even at my most inspired, my record is just under four thousand words in a day. But my favourite quick write has to be The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Although the inspiration and idea developed over a long time, he wrote the first draft in three days. After giving it to his wife to critique, he was so affected by her assessment that he threw the manuscript on the fire. He then changed his mind and rewrote it in another three days!