1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Welcome, visitor! Litopia is the oldest & friendliest community for writers on the net. If you are serious about your writing, we cordially invite you to join us.
    Dismiss Notice

How Long Does It Take You To Write A Book?

Discussion in 'Café Life' started by Paul Whybrow, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. Paul Whybrow

    Paul Whybrow Venerated Member

    Buds:
    1,069
    Buds:
    1,069 (0 Banked)
    This article on the Electric Literature site set me thinking about how time constraints affect the way that I work:

    How Long Is Writing Supposed to Take? – Electric Literature

    Don't miss the link to the infographic showing how long it took famous writers to complete their best-known book.

    I'm fortunate, so far as my writing goes, in that I don't have any distractions that interfere with my life as an author. Writing is my only occupation, I live alone, have no partner, family or pets and rarely see friends. I haven't always been this reclusive, and it took a while to adapt to, but I decided to dedicate myself to improving my skills as a writer, as it was what I wanted to do more than anything, so some things had to go.

    Despite, or maybe because of my freedom, I haven't always worked in the same way. I haven't consciously experimented with different approaches to creating a story or poetry, it's more that the subject affects my engagement with what I do. For example, ideas for poems wing into my consciousness from out of the ether: they usually come with a title handily attached, which I make a note of, along with initial thoughts on what the theme will be, stored in a folder on my desktop. Sometimes, I'll compose the poem then and there.

    My Cornish Detective novels require tons of research, and to help the process I've built up a useful resource of website addresses for things such as forensic medicine, poisons and police procedure. It took me 10 months to write the first story, partly because I made the beginner's mistake of not keeping to the advised 80,000 words for a crime novel by an unknown author. I churned out 179,000! I've since removed 30,000, which took several weeks.

    Since then, I take an average of 5 months to write and edit a novel, working for 4-5 hours on six days a week. I never edit what I've written on the same day, as I find sleeping on it helps me spot things when I start the next afternoon. I'm more creative in the evening, so edit and research in the afternoon to provide a springboard into the next chapter.

    My latest project has been the second story in what will be four novellas about an American Civil War veteran. The Era of Reconstruction after the war was so bewilderingly complicated, that I've done as much fact-checking and reading around the subject for this 28,000-word manuscript as I do for a novel. I've tackled this story in two-hour chunks from 7-9 pm—I'm not sure why—maybe because the subject matter is so dark that I have to wait for the sun to set! :(

    By the time that I finish it, I'll have spent 2 months on the creative writing, though in that time I've visited countless websites and read two novels and studied two densely-written non-fiction books about the Civil War and Era of Reconstruction.

    How long does it take you to write a story? I've said it before, but I'll repeat my respect for anyone who creates a novel while working a full-time job, taking care of family and socialising.

    Do you have any very long-term projects, that you keep returning to?

    What was your quickest story?

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Rich.

    Rich. Active Member

    Buds:
    173
    Buds:
    173 (0 Banked)
    I've written one novel, which is out on submission but increasingly looking like it ain't going nowhere (which I'm fine with – it was the first; the next will be better). I'm a part-time EFL teacher and a full-time dad, so I wrote the novel in the cracks. It took three years.

    The speed of my writing is one-hundred percent dependent on the strain I'm willing to put on my marriage and my time with the kids. Let's just say that the people around me put up with a lot. Periodically, I stop writing for a couple of months to avoid familial disaster.

    As for my quickest story, that was a bit of flash I wrote for this site last month. It took 45 minutes – the length of the little one's nap :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Love Love x 1
  3. Carol Rose

    Carol Rose Venerated Member Founding Member

    Buds:
    56
    Buds:
    56 (427 Banked)
    I went back and did the math since mid-November of 2014, when I first submitted to Evernight as Ravenna Tate. Before that, I was writing to deadlines, so I didn't go back any further than that because I wanted an accurate idea of how much I write, on average, when the only "deadlines" are at the ones I set for myself.

    Anyway... I wrote/submitted 1,115,981 words over the course of the past three years. Three years is 156 weeks, so that means I wrote, on average, 7,158 words a week.

    This was actually interesting for me to do, because my goal is about twice that. :) Still not too shabby, though.

    To break it down further, I submitted 25 books in that time period. The average length of those books is 44,640 words. So that means I wrote, on average, one book every six weeks. :)
     
    • Salute Salute x 3
  4. Island Writer

    Island Writer Well-Known Member

    Buds:
    134
    Buds:
    134 (0 Banked)
    IF:
    I spend the time to plot out the novel (using Rock Your Plot - Cathy Yardley's book), the planning takes around two months.

    THEN:
    I can write an 80,000-word FIRST draft in two months. Then I put it away for as long as possible.

    EDITING:
    The editing phase represents 90% of the work and it can take...? At some point I have to say, enough!

    What I see most in the editing work I do with new authors, is that they haven't got the CRAFT of writing figured out yet. So often the first book is an experiment, a learning tool that can be useful on a number of levels. Get some feedback and learn from your mistakes... you will be a better writer for it. Put the first book away and start in on the next one.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Matnov

    Matnov Well-Known Member

    Buds:
    136
    Buds:
    136 (0 Banked)
    In the cracks. I like that a lot. :)

    And to sound all pretentious and pseuds corner, is a novel ever truly finished? I once read a quote that said something along the lines that all works of art are ultimately a compromise. Perhaps in coming to terms with that, lays the way to complete your current project and move on to the next?
     
    • Like Like x 3
  6. Robinne Weiss

    Robinne Weiss Venerated Member

    Buds:
    584
    Buds:
    584 (0 Banked)
    First novel, seven years. Subsequent novels have taken 6-10 weeks for the first draft, then 9-12 months to revise. But that doesn't take into account that before I start writing a book, I've been mulling over the plot and characters for anywhere from months to years.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Patricia D

    Patricia D Venerated Member

    Buds:
    204
    Buds:
    204 (0 Banked)
    Looking back, it has taken me about a year to write a book. I might knock out a short story or two during that interval. That said, I have a finished book sitting in the drawer, while I work on the sequel, which I'm hoping will go faster.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Boopadoo

    Boopadoo Respected Member

    Buds:
    126
    Buds:
    126 (0 Banked)
    When I first started writing seriously, I finished a complete trilogy (90-100k each) in a year before I realized, as @Island Writer so accurately put it, I didn't have the CRAFT of writing figured out yet. I joined Litopia and subsequently shelved it all.

    My current novel, which @AgentPete just blessed with a "ready to go" this past Sunday, took from November 2010 until now, partially because I took time to learn the craft, partially because I had a really bad 2015, but mostly because I also write in the cracks. :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Quillwitch

    Quillwitch Venerated Member

    Buds:
    396
    Buds:
    396 (0 Banked)
    For, me it´s putting my writing on hold for years once the disaster has already hit at home. It´s unavoidable, I guess.
     
  10. Paul Whybrow

    Paul Whybrow Venerated Member

    Buds:
    1,069
    Buds:
    1,069 (0 Banked)
    Nice things grow in the cracks:

    [​IMG]
     
    • Love Love x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Rich.

    Rich. Active Member

    Buds:
    173
    Buds:
    173 (0 Banked)
    Ouch. Sorry to hear you find it unavoidable.
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page