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How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?

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How long does it take to write a book? Asking for a friend…

In the previous post, I wrote about quitting projects and when and why it’s a reasonable decision. However, if you decide to keep doing it, and if your project is writing a book, know that there might be a long and winding road ahead.

While Bradbury only needed 2,5 weeks to write Fahrenheit 451 and Saint-Exupéry wrote The Little Prince in 6 months, Salinger needed 10 years to write Catcher in The Rye, and it took 16 years for Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings.

It all depends more on what it takes to write a book than how long it takes… Writing a story can be easy if you have it in your head already or if you prepared correctly. But what if you don’t know anything about your voice, your reader, your style?

So, the short answer to that question is, “it depends”. The long one is, “it depends on a lot of things, such as length, genre, your commitment, your productivity, your motivation, how prepared you are for that, and so on.”

In my case, it’s been taking 7 years already to write a novel, and I know exactly why. I’ve been studying the craft, I decided to take a break and read about writing, to learn techniques, to read authors that could inspire me and teach me and help me to be a better writer.

I also took some time to hone my own process and try to find my voice, my style, my ideal reader. So, it’s not that I’ve been writing word by word since 2014. It’s a more thorough process than just that. I’m sure that my next novel will take a lot less to write. Or not *giggles*.

But I’ve learned some important lessons along the way. I’m gonna share three tips that could shorten the time spent on writing a book. Here they are.

  1. Write an outline. The outline is the map of your book writing journey. You create an itinerary to visit every “place” that you want to write of a book. Once you create it, it takes away the time wasted on deciding where to next.
  2. Set deadlines and track your progress. I don’t know about you but my sense of priority changes if I set a deadline for a project. With the right motivation, you can channel the pressure of a countdown to the energy and commitment you need to work on a project. Then, by tracking your progress, you have visual feedback on how you’re doing.
  3. Create the perfect mindset. Our minds can trick us. Thoughts can lead us to believe in writer’s block, imposter syndrome, we can think that we are not capable, that we’re tired, that we can’t. Work on your mind. You’re a writer. Be a writer. Create an environment and make it easier for the writing mode to be turned on whenever you want. Set the mood, find motivation, meditate when you’re in doubt or tired, enjoy the process.

Now, for the comments…

• How long do you think it should take to write a book? And what do you think is essential to shorten that time?

5 Comments

  • A.

    I started my first novel twelve years ago, while I was studying in university. Whey I finished my studies, I began re-writing it once and twice. And then I let it rest for a year. Later, I read it and I changed everything I found childish or not important for the plot. This year I’ve started to contact some editors, but I know it will take two more years since I can see it published! A writer needs tones of patience indeed! 😉

  • Aly Writes

    I don’t think there’s any one answer to that question. It takes how long it takes and can’t be rushed. Patience is key, I guess.

  • Alka Nupur Singh

    I am someone very new to your blog, stumbled upon your Instagram page recently via which I came here. And I am already binge reading your articles for I don’t know how many hours 😛 I am a person who believes in natural flow of things, at its own pace. Not that I don’t like to be in control, but simple natural flow of moments in life has its own beauty (at least to me, if it makes sense in any way). And same goes for my writing. It can take a whole time of the world or it can come in a snap of a moment. The only prerequisite is that it has to come from my heart. When every word that you write is your baby, time you invest in nourishing it is never a problem, isn’t it?

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