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Abstract

In his article, "Literary Careers: Breaks and Stalls," W. Ray Crozier argues that biographical evidence points to considerable individual variation in writers' output over the life span even when allowance is made for longevity and length of writing career. This issue has been neglected by psychological accounts of creativity. Crozier outlines a theoretical framework for understanding variation in terms of an "artistic career." This is conceptualised as a sequence of projects, the success of which are influenced by intra-project factors such as the rewardingness and difficulties of literary projects and extra-project factors such as work pressures, poverty, and competing demands on time. This account is compared to an explanation proposed by Dean Keith Simonton, which emphasises the reduction over time in the potential to produce new work. The framework is applied to the analysis of biographical material on six writers of fiction who were all critically acclaimed writers who lived until at least their eightieth year but who were among the least productive in a large sample of twentieth-century British novelists.

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