Many writers who are thinking about starting their first novel wonder how long it will take them to complete it. Of course, this question does not have one definitive answer and can depend on many different factors. However, understanding them will help writers gain a better insight into how long it might take them to complete a book. Let’s take a look at some of them:
How much time have you got?
Not many of us are in the privileged position to make novel writing our full-time job. However, before you begin it is worth considering how much time you can realistically dedicate to writing your novel. If you work full time you are likely to be doing the majority of your writing on the weekends. Think about setting yourself weekly goals. Remember getting up an hour earlier each morning and dedicating some of your downtime in the evening to novel writing can make all the difference.
This is something I am trying to do more of. I must admit I haven't worked on it much in days, but have skimmed over the copy stored on my computer. I've started writing something else as well and want to work on that one as well.
How quickly can you write?
Be honest with yourself. Are you one of those writers who sits down to write and everything just pours out, or do you prefer to write slowly and deliberately and think about every, sentence, every word? All writers are different and have techniques that work best for them - there is no one correct way to do it. Saying that, it's good advice to get the first draft of your story down as quickly as possible. The faster you write your first draft the more likely you are to keep the momentum going, so try not to censor yourself too much.
I'd have to say I'm the kind who writes slowly and thinks about most sentences and words. I don't know if I'd use deliberately to describe how I do it. But I get it done when I can, as quickly as I can.
What kind of book are you writing?
The genre of your book will play a part when determining how long your novel will be. Typically readers expect fantasy novels, for example, to be longer than general fiction. There are no hard and fast rules about it but a guideline for some of the most common genres suggests:
YA fiction - 45k to 80k Romance - 85k to 100k Horror - 80k to 100k Mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction 90k to 120k Science fiction & fantasy 100k - 150k
This post is all about fiction. As you all have seen on my blog, I've been working on a memoir and have been a bit worried about the word count, but have been told not to do so. I'm trying hard not to. And I'm not even thinking about the word count on my new piece of writing just yet, since I haven't made as much progress on that one.
Don’t forget about the editing stage!
It’s important to remember that finishing your book is only the first stage. If you are hoping to get published or even to self-publish your book there is still plenty of work to be done. Let’s face it, first drafts are usually pretty bad so we need to go back and rework them to make them better. Then, of course, there is proof-reading, book cover design, approaching agents and publishers, writing letters, creating a marketing plan and so on. The editing stage can take just as long (or longer) than writing your book in the first place, so this is worth considering if you are hoping to sell your book once you have finished it.
Still working on the editing and when I do, it's hard not to keep wanting change or add something.
Asking how long it takes to write a book is akin to asking how long is a piece of string?! Every author has their own way of writing, their own roadblocks and hurdles to manoeuvre around and get over. Getting to the end of your novel is just as much about dedication and determination to persevere as it is finding the time to do it. If you truly believe in yourself and in your story, you’ll get there in the end!
Agreed. Asking how long it took someone (after the fact), well that is something to which the can give a definitive answer. Or an estimated one--many, if not all, people likely have to estimate how long the process actually took them. I'm determined to finish my story, no matter long it takes. I just want to still be alive if and when it sees the light of day!