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Author Topic: How long does it take to write a novel?  (Read 3201 times)  

Offline WDR

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #50 on: October 25, 2016, 08:39:41 AM »
My first book took two years from "It was a dark and stormy night..." to being published. That occurred during a period filled with family emergencies, a personal health emergency, and all the while I was running a fairly active non-profit at the same time.

I gave myself a couple of weeks of rest and then buckled down to really crank out the second book. I had just enough money left in savings, as well as the money my first book was earning, to make it at least 10 months before I was going to be in financial trouble. I was absolutely on course to finish in about four months of writing to be followed by some careful editing with a summer release. Then my computer got trashed. I did not have enough money to buy another one, so I had to borrow time on a family member's computer. That slowed me down significantly. I lost more than half my productive time. It didn't take long for it to become obvious that my 2014 goal was completely trashed, so I had to get a part time job to pay the bills. That took away another 30% of productive time, leaving me at only 20% left of time I could sit and write.

As a result, I'm closing in on 3 years for book 2.

I should be able to produce about 1.5-2 books per year with little effort. If I can earn enough money with my second book to buy a new computer, I should be able get myself back to at least 1 novel per year. Once I can ditch the part-time job, I'm confident I can get that up to around 3-4 books per year. I have a long list of story ideas and I keep coming up with a new one about every other month.
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Offline Evenstar

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #51 on: October 25, 2016, 08:43:20 AM »
Each books seems to take me three months regardless of length. Then I have one more month of final editing, proofing, blurb writing, cover anxiety, uploading, admin, promo. (most of it is admin, updating back matter in all the other books etc)

So, four months from Chapter One > Publish.

I (try to) work from 9pm - 12am six nights a week. (Only about half of this is writing time though).

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #52 on: October 25, 2016, 08:43:53 AM »
I don't know that anyone's answer will give OP any insight other than that everyone's life is different. There are authors  who can churn out a book a month and write very well to boot. There are authors who have jobs or family/children obligations and they have other priorities. The genre of the book also makes a difference. Then there are authors who are newbs who need more time to craft, and authors who have been doing this for years who can work faster. Some authors prefer to work alone so they're done when they're done. Others work with editors and proofreaders and have various different scheduling processes.

It's really comparing apples to oranges to bananas. There's not "average" time it takes. It takes whatever works for the particular person I guess.

Offline pdworkman

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #53 on: October 25, 2016, 10:05:34 AM »
How to: Devise a text document with or a handwritten list of your own personal recurring mistakes/overused words, open any document you like, and click "record macro." You then do a search and replace for everything on your list, one by one. You can change text color in the replace, or highlight every "ly " in blue or put in a double question mark before every suspect word, or whatever floats your boat.

Paul Beverley has some great editing tool macros. FREdit and others:

http://www.archivepub.co.uk/macros.html

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Offline pdworkman

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #54 on: October 25, 2016, 10:11:58 AM »
There are authors  who can churn out a book a month and write very well to boot. There are authors who have jobs or family/children obligations and they have other priorities.

Just pointing out a false comparison. You don't have authors who churn out a book a month because they have no other priorities, and other authors who don't churn out a book of month because they do.

Yes, everybody is different and has different skills, abilities, priorities, time availability, etc. But there are people who have full-time jobs, families, and other priorities who do write faster than those who don't. In fact, with Parkinson's Law, those who are busier probably writer faster.

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Offline AllyWho

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #55 on: October 25, 2016, 10:24:14 AM »
There are authors  who can churn out a book a month...

I wondered how long it would take before more productive writers were labelled churn  ::)

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #56 on: October 25, 2016, 10:32:22 AM »
I wondered how long it would take before more productive writers were labelled churn  ::)

Your selective edit of her quote is highly misleading. The term "to churn out" doesn't contain an inherent negative connotation. It's about process and routine. Her qualifying "and write very well to boot" evidences it wasn't being used derogatorily. ;)

Offline azebra

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #57 on: October 25, 2016, 11:23:00 AM »
I know I can write a novel in a month because I still have complete pantser nanowrimo unpublished in the files. (Actually I only have half because I didn't back up before I was burgled.) I wrote that story while working full time and keeping up with other obligations. But what I like to do is work much slower and enjoy the writing.
 

Offline cebap

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #58 on: October 25, 2016, 11:59:38 AM »
For a 50k first draft, it takes a little bit less than 40 writing hours. Since I'm not fulltime, the hours are spread out over a month, usually.
Editing is where I sink a lot of time and money. I'll do two passes before sending it off to an editor. Even then, I think I could afford to spend more time polishing my work.
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Offline AllyWho

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #59 on: October 25, 2016, 12:48:02 PM »
The term "to churn out" doesn't contain an inherent negative connotation.

You haven't been here long, it's a common hot topic around here that productive writers are somehow "churn" and that those who spend months/years labouring over each word are more artistic and worthy and the word's use most certainly does have a negative connotation. I assumed the poster's choice of the word churn was deliberate since she has participated in those discussions and there were many ways the sentence could have been worded without the use of that particular descriptor.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2016, 12:50:01 PM by AliceW »

Offline valeriec80

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #60 on: October 25, 2016, 01:31:48 PM »
I think it's more useful to think in terms of hours than weeks or days or months.

When I had a day job, it took a lot longer to finish a book, but that was because I only wrote for two hours a day. Also, I have books that took me a year to write, but if I'm honest, they really took me three months to write, because I worked on them for a month, and then couldn't bear the sight of them for nine months, and then got motivated and finished them up in two months. I suspect this is similar for lots of people.

I have had one big jump in productivity, and that was to go from 1K an hour to 2K an hour. This happened after I learned Dvorak (for carpal tunnel. It didn't work. I'm fairly sure I have Reynaud's and that causes swelling/pain in my hands. Best trick for me has been heating pads in fingerless gloves.)

So, I'm twice as fast now thanks to the keyboard layout, but beyond that, it still takes me the same number of hours to write a book as it used to. It just depends on whether they are spread out or not.

I really think a big component of writing "faster" is really writing "more often" or "more hours a day." Sometimes you have those hours. Sometimes you plain don't. And there's no shame in that. It is what it is. :D
   

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #61 on: October 25, 2016, 01:53:38 PM »
You haven't been here long, it's a common hot topic around here that productive writers are somehow "churn" and that those who spend months/years labouring over each word are more artistic and worthy and the word's use most certainly does have a negative connotation. I assumed the poster's choice of the word churn was deliberate since she has participated in those discussions and there were many ways the sentence could have been worded without the use of that particular descriptor.


I think I'll judge what she meant based on what she actually said. On a side note, butter is one of mankind's best accomplishments.  :)

Offline Elizabeth S.

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #62 on: October 25, 2016, 02:06:22 PM »
I think it's more useful to think in terms of hours than weeks or days or months.

When I had a day job, it took a lot longer to finish a book, but that was because I only wrote for two hours a day. Also, I have books that took me a year to write, but if I'm honest, they really took me three months to write, because I worked on them for a month, and then couldn't bear the sight of them for nine months, and then got motivated and finished them up in two months. I suspect this is similar for lots of people.

I have had one big jump in productivity, and that was to go from 1K an hour to 2K an hour. This happened after I learned Dvorak (for carpal tunnel. It didn't work. I'm fairly sure I have Reynaud's and that causes swelling/pain in my hands. Best trick for me has been heating pads in fingerless gloves.)

So, I'm twice as fast now thanks to the keyboard layout, but beyond that, it still takes me the same number of hours to write a book as it used to. It just depends on whether they are spread out or not.

I really think a big component of writing "faster" is really writing "more often" or "more hours a day." Sometimes you have those hours. Sometimes you plain don't. And there's no shame in that. It is what it is. :D

This is so true. The biggest boost in my productivity came after I started using Toggl. It showed me that I spent the same amount of hours writing the book that took me eight months as I did the one that took me six weeks. That blew my mind!

After that, I cut out most TV shows and started getting up earlier to write, and then writing on lunch breaks, during the commute, etc. I have a full life, with pets, family, volunteering, a full-time job, etc., but I make writing a priority and get the work done.

I also have Raynaud's and it's unpleasant. During the winter, I use gloves with special fingerpads made for touch screens, since they're easier to type with. I've also found that holding a mug of hot tea helps if my fingers start feeling achy or stiff.

Offline Ariel Eaves

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #63 on: October 25, 2016, 02:08:43 PM »
It usually takes me about 3 to 5 weeks, but at the moment I'm writing works between 40 and 50k.

I think the idea that fast writing = bad quality should've been put to bed already, as many classics were also written quickly. But everyone has their own writing pace, and there are certainly works that I would spend more time on. Ultimately writing and publishing more is the fastest way to increase your exposure and success, so I'm focussing on it heavily.
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Offline pdworkman

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #64 on: October 26, 2016, 12:31:14 PM »
My average pace is probably 1500 words per hour. Higher for sprints, slower when working through difficult scenes. So a 100,000 word novel would take 67 hours. I generally put out a 100,000 word novel in 23 days, which is about 3 hours a day. I get up 2 hours earlier than anyone in the house, write over lunch, and try to grab a few hours at the end of the day. (Because, of course, I also have other projects I am editing and marketing, accounting, etc.)

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Offline WDR

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #65 on: October 31, 2016, 07:23:43 PM »
It is fun and all to see how fast others can write, but it is vital to remember that you should not judge the value of your work based on how fast you can write compared to someone else.

Everyone has their own pace. Choose a pace and rhythm that best supports your best effort. Don't try to "improve" what works for you. You can increase the speed with which you write with practice. Indeed, the more you write, the faster you will be able to write. But if you try to force yourself to write more, faster, then you are going to crash instead of improving your productivity.
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Offline Sandy Raven

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #66 on: October 31, 2016, 07:44:33 PM »
A first draft? About 4 months. Except not for the book I'm writing right now. I scrapped the first 50K, restarted, and love the whole book a lot more. But I changed my ending. So this one has taken me about six months. I think it's way too long, because I'm hoping to get more than two books out a year. But haven't hit that mark yet.
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Offline pdworkman

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #67 on: October 31, 2016, 07:58:15 PM »
It is fun and all to see how fast others can write, but it is vital to remember that you should not judge the value of your work based on how fast you can write compared to someone else.

Everyone has their own pace. Choose a pace and rhythm that best supports your best effort. Don't try to "improve" what works for you. You can increase the speed with which you write with practice. Indeed, the more you write, the faster you will be able to write. But if you try to force yourself to write more, faster, then you are going to crash instead of improving your productivity.

I was thinking today that it is a dichotomy you see in a lot of things. Runners who train for a half-marathon or marathon, and those who do sprints or Tabata. Readers who devour hundreds of books a year, and readers who savour a few. What's better? Whichever one works for you. Don't put extra guilt or pressure on yourself for not experiencing life the same way as someone else.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #68 on: October 31, 2016, 08:15:04 PM »
You haven't been here long, it's a common hot topic around here that productive writers are somehow "churn" and that those who spend months/years labouring over each word are more artistic and worthy and the word's use most certainly does have a negative connotation. I assumed the poster's choice of the word churn was deliberate since she has participated in those discussions and there were many ways the sentence could have been worded without the use of that particular descriptor.

You assume too much. Maybe you do but I certainly don't deliberately choose words one way or another when I post on internet forums for fun and leisure. I sprout out whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment. Everyone does not do things the way you do. If you prefer I be deliberate in what we post, you're welcome to pay my editor and she can review and edit my posts before they go up.

I don't feel "churn" is a negative word. If you do then it reflects more on you than people who use the word.

From my recollection, I have not actively participated in those discussionsy you are talking about. The one time i joined in, if my memory serves me correctly, I said something along the line that I was curious how good the books are that are produced by expediate writers who write a book a month, and I was impressed with the high quality of Libbie Hawker's writing.

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #69 on: October 31, 2016, 08:21:51 PM »
Just pointing out a false comparison. You don't have authors who churn out a book a month because they have no other priorities, and other authors who don't churn out a book of month because they do.

Yes, everybody is different and has different skills, abilities, priorities, time availability, etc. But there are people who have full-time jobs, families, and other priorities who do write faster than those who don't. In fact, with Parkinson's Law, those who are busier probably writer faster.

It is not a false comparison. My point was that everyone's lives are different, and everyone work differently. It doesn't mean those who write fast don't have family or other obligations. I think you guys who can work that fast occasionally get oversensitive, and sometimes see slights where there aren't any. You do what many others can't. Be proud. Don't feel like you have to defend yourself. Readers will be able to judge by the quality of your work. You work speaks for itself. If they are good, then people who assume your work isn't are those who haven't read them. And just because someone took years to finish a book doesn't mean it's any good either.

By the same token, some fast writers look down on those who can't write as fast, like they are inferior for being slow. It's worth pointing out that sometimes people can't for life reasons or they simply can't. There really is no "right" way to write, is what I'm saying.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 09:27:18 PM by AlexaKang »

Offline Charmaine

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #70 on: October 31, 2016, 08:29:54 PM »
I think it's better to think in terms of hours and words per hour,too.

Assuming, a writer writes 1000 words per hour, a 70,000-word novel will take them 70 hours.
A novel can take 1 week for someone who is able to write 10 hours a day OR 2 weeks for someone who writes 5 hours a day.
The same novel can even take 5 months for someone who is only able to write for 30 minutes a day.

It's all about where you squirrel away the time.   ;D
« Last Edit: November 13, 2016, 01:01:25 PM by Charmaine »

Offline GARael

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Re: How long does it take to write a novel?
« Reply #71 on: October 31, 2016, 09:03:57 PM »
Anywhere from a long weekend to three months is standard for me. As others have said, it depends on the author, the story, the method, and a host of other factors that aren't always predictable. In my experience, it's easy to impose unnecessary limitations on yourself by getting hung up on how long it should take to write a novel.

I think it's better to think in terms of hours and words per hour,too.

Assuming, a writer writes 1000 words per hour, a 70,000-word novel will take them 70 hours.
A novel can take 1 week for someone who is able to write 10 hours a day OR 2 weeks for someone who writes 5 hours a day.
The same novel can even take 5 months for someone who is only able to write for 30 minutes a day.

It's all about where you squirrel away the time.  ;D

Couldn't agree more! Months and even years spent finishing a novel don't necessarily correlate to more time spent writing a novel.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 09:07:14 PM by GARael »
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