You have dreamed about someday writing a book, but every time you sat down to begin the project, you became overwhelmed by the scope of the undertaking. You may have sat at your desk attempting to calculate the time commitment and then simply gave up before you even started. So, exactly how long does it take to write a book, anyway?
And the answer to the question is (drum roll): It depends.
Each author approaches the book writing process with his or her unique work habits, writing skills, and goals, which significantly influence the timeline. Someone who is initially highly committed to the project may find themselves languishing because they did not set up a daily writing schedule to keep them on track. Another writer may have attempted to write their novel without first developing an outline, causing them to veer off track and waste precious time.
There are, however, some strategies to employ that can help you move ahead in a steadfast fashion, bringing your book to publication from start to finish in about six months, depending on the book page count. Stay tuned to learn how to plan your book project and set up a writing schedule that will get you from Point A to B in a timely manner.
Factors That Affect How Long it Takes to Write a Book
Not all writers, or their writing styles, are created equal. This means that book writing timelines can vary immensely depending on many factors. These might include:
An author’s ability to sit down and focus on their writing for a particular length of time will largely dictate how long it takes to complete the book. Some writers are able to concentrate on their story for several hours per day, while others start losing focus after an hour. Luckily, there are several free online writing tools that may help writers concentrate on the task at hand.
Whether the genre is fiction or nonfiction, the book might require a great deal of research. Studying history, cultural details, and faraway lands prior to embarking on a historical novel, or researching topics like economics, psychology, or religion before beginning a nonfiction book, can add a significant amount of time to a project.
Writing a book requires a good deal of self-discipline. The more disciplined an author is about sticking to a writing schedule, the faster the book will come to fruition.
Many authors juggle a career and/or childrearing with their passion to write. The time needed to complete your book depends on the time you have available to devote to writing.
An author may sail right through writing their manuscript, only to spend weeks or months engaged in the editing process. Some authors will complete a cursory edit after completing their book and then send it off to an editor for copyediting and proofreading, which can speed the project along.
How Long It Took Best-Selling Authors to Write a Book
There’s no definitive answer to how long it takes to write a book when you consider all of these factors and more. It is worth noting some famous authors that took a very long time to complete their novels. Some examples are:
J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien took seven years to write The Hobbit, and another sixteen years to complete the sequel. He was a perfectionist, and it looks like that paid off for him.
Margaret Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell took ten years to write her masterpiece, Gone With the Wind, which was also the only book she ever wrote.
Michael Chrichton. Chrichton labored over Jurassic Park for eight years before calling it a wrap.
On the other side of the coin, some renowned authors whipped through their books at breakneck speed. Some of these writers include:
Jack Kerouac. Because his travels across the United States spanned seven years, many assumed it took Kerouac that long to write On the Road. In fact, he wrote the entire draft in less than a month.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Russian author not only penned The Gambler in twenty-six days but did so while also writing Crime and Punishment.
How Much Time Does it Actually Take to Write a Book?
It is easy to understand why an author might freeze up at the enormity of the book writing process. Avoid allowing anxiety to derail your dream by dividing up your writing sessions into small, manageable chunks. Adopt a system of writing just 500 words per day to incrementally get you to your publication goal in a reasonable amount of time.
Consider the math, based on writing 500 words four times a week:
- 32,000+ words = 4 months
- 60,000+ words = 7 months
- 100,000+ words = 1 year
For this plan to work, you will, of course, need to stick to it by scheduling four writing sessions into your weekly calendar. If you’d prefer to shrink that time allotment down, just add another day of writing to the schedule, or write 800-1,000 words per session instead of 500.
Tips to Speed Up Your Writing Time
Motivated authors might want to employ some techniques to speed up their writing time even more.
1. Set a publication date. Setting a publication date gives you a goal to help you stay on task.
2. Create a book outline. Start your project by creating a book outline, which gives you a roadmap that helps keep you on track, and then set up a writing schedule to meet your deadline.
3. Utilize book editing software. Speed up the editing process by using book editing software programs.
4. Use a dictation app. Use a dictation tool to translate voice recordings to paper when you are on the road or otherwise away from your computer.
5. Be accountable to someone. Choose an accountability buddy to report your progress to.
Feeling Stuck? Hire an Editor to Help Move the Project Along
When an author wonders, “How long does it take to write a book?” it is a logical question. Having an idea of the time commitment involved helps you plan around the goal of self-publishing. But if you find yourself stuck on a challenging plot transition or deciding how to structure your book, why not ask the experienced editorial team at Gatekeeper Press for some guidance? Call us today!