Content Creators: Would Mark Twain have written 4000 words a day during the Spanish Flu of 1918?

One of the most delightful places to see in Hartford, Connecticut is the Mark Twain House. This is where Mark Twain did the bulk of his writing. There is an upper floor where you see the writing table and ink pens that he dipped in ink and wrote. Twain apparently wrote 4000 words a day according to our tour guide. The word counter blog suggests that he wrote between 1400-1800 words a day. That’s a lot if you need to dip the pen in an ink pot after every few words.

This blog has been somewhat sporadic ever since the March Coronavirus shutdown. To get inspired we looked at the Mark Twain wikipedia page just to check if Mark Twain was around in 1918. Alas, Twain died in 1910. But given the intrepid nature of the legend, we are sure that Twain would have kept pushing out content, had he been around in 1918 and the Spanish Flu.

The Coronavirus has challenged everyone globally. However, all content creators can get inspired by some popular nuggets from Mark Twain.

  • Get started: One of Twain’s famous quotes is “The secret of getting ahead is getting started“. Whether you run social media content, you tube videos, blogs there is a block to getting started. Once you start you can get it done!
  • Simplicity: “I never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman because I can get the same money for cop.” This one is quite incredible given that it is over hundred years old. There was no television, internet or social media yet Twain knew that you are writing to communicate. And not to win the Spelling Bee! The same applies to video, tweets and instagram or whatever.
  • Productivity: Mark Twain had a time and place i.e. daytime and a desk. And he worked from home, like many folks during the Coronavirus pandemic. He would complete his writing for the day in what seems to be a very disciplined manner.
  • The Twain White Suit and Marketing: Twain wore white suits on the lecture circuit and anywhere there was press. For newspapers were black and white and the white suit made him stand out. Twain was conscious and tried hard to market his work. Many more readers would know about Twain given the social media and Internet today!
  • Revenue model and copyright fight: Twain fought valiantly for intellectual property right. Copyright meant that he and his heirs could earn from his books over time. By 1909 the Copyright act brought the total period to 56 years. Finally in 1976 American Authors were given copyright for life and fifty years forward as this nice article from USPTO explains.

We hope that content creators in the digital age will get inspired to keep plugging away. We will eventually work through the Coronavirus.

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