Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Long Does it Take?

Writers and non-writers alike want to know "How long does it take to write a novel?"

Writers may think they're working too slowly, and non-writers who have never attempted to write a novel plainly have no idea how long such a process should take. Thus they ask--how long does it take?

I've got a great answer for this question--that depends...

(Sheesh, I sound like a politician, don't I? Ugh!)

Realistically, determining the length of time it takes to write a novel truly does depend on a number of things such as:

1. The writer's level of experience

2. The intended length of the novel (50K words? 100K words? 300K words?)

3. The amount of research needed to give the book authenticity.

4. The writer's general work habits.

5. The writer's level of commitment.

6. Many more possible factors.

Once or twice a year writers challenge each other with a "write a novel in a month" program. Everyone who enters this program hopes to begin a novel and complete it within a single month. I don't have stats on how many people actually write a book from start to finish in this time period so I don't know how effective it is in attaining its goal. However, I have no doubt this challenge is quite helpful to many writers who may need a little encouragement with jump starting their next project.

Karen Wiesner, a prolific author whom I've had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times, wrote a book a few years ago titled "First Draft in 30 Days: a novel writer's system for building a complete and cohesive manuscript." It was published by Writer's Digest Books. [I have an autographed copy. :-)] This book is a great resource for anyone who'd like to have a little support while pounding out their first or their next book. Writer's will find it full of helpful advice.

Ultimately, it is each individual writer who determines how long it will take to complete her novel. For me, the length of time it has taken me to write a book from start to finish depended on the book. I've completed a first draft in as little as 3 1/2 weeks. On the other hand, at least one book took me a couple of years to write as it continued to evolve.

If you're a writer, best wishes in completing your novel in your own time. If you're a reader like me, let's be happy it takes a lot less time to read a novel than it takes to write one.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author


Sarah Allen said...

Great post :) I'm in the middle of my first, and though I am dedicated and trying to get it done quickly, I do feel like its going slow. But it is coming! No matter how long, the important thing is to keep going and get it done, right?

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Fran Shaff said...

Sarah, Good for you. You'd be surprised how many people want to write a book, and never get started at all. You are a very big step ahead of them already. Keep working, and NEVER give up. As long as you stay focused, you'll reach your goal in writing, whatever it is.