Writing a book for the first time can be an intimidating task, but planning ahead may curb a lot of that anxiety. Some aspiring authors may be surprised to learn that the process of writing a book begins before the writing does.

What is the Process of Writing a Book?

The first step in writing a book for the first time is to pin down an idea. The second is to begin research with that idea in mind. What genre do you think your concept falls into? The more you know about the form your book will take, the better you can tackle and research it. Think of some of the most popular novelists and their genre of choice: Sue Grafton (mystery), Stephen King (horror) or Nora Roberts (romance) Judy Blume (children’s). They each pinned down a corner of the market. Reading them will help you understand your genre more. Some of them have also written about their craft.

Which leads us to the next step of fleshing out the book. Once you know the story and the genre, you can start choosing a title, and banging out the plot. Know how your book will end and write towards it.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

If you’re writing with a structure already in place, you’re less likely to encounter writer’s block or go off onto unproductive tangents. That will save time. However, there’s no time limit on how long it takes to write a book other than the one that you set for yourself. Different writers have different methods, and it can help to learn how other authors approached the process successfully. Some tips to help you create a schedule include:

  • Set a realistic time-frame that takes into account your free time each week and your daily mental bandwidth for writing. This should break down the process into stages: ideas and brainstorming, plot creation, writing, editing, etc.
  • Create a daily word count goal to help keep you on track once you do start writing.
  • After you start, you’ll have a better idea of how realistic your goals are and if they need to be amended.

The time it takes to write a book varies based on countless factors. However, to give you a better idea of what to expect, you can take a look at how some of our most beloved authors fared while writing their own literary masterpieces. According to this infographic, it took Charles Dickens eight months to write Great Expectations, yet F. Scott Fitzgerald took 2.5 years to hash out The Great Gatsby. How about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Well, let’s just say at least six years passed before the book hit shelves.

Best Books On How to Write a Book

Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

The world of self-publishing is a new and exotic one, and this book provides some insight into it. It delves into what it takes to write a book, from the planning phase to formatting.

Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker

Hawker goes into the nitty-gritty of plot formation and covers the process of writing a book across all genres. This book gives first-time writers the tools to feel confident in their characters and plot.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

King’s On Writing is a classic source of literary inspiration. While it’s less instructional than the above suggestions, it provides valuable insight into the life, experiences, and methods of one of the most popular genre writers. It’s also an engaging read.

Writing a Book For the First Time Starts With An Idea

A good idea is the necessary starting point, and the above books on how to write a book could help you decide where to go from there. However, there’s no such thing as too much research, and there are many ways to do that, from sitting down with established writers to reading marketing magazines.

It also helps to talk it out. Gatekeeper Press provides a free 30-minute consultation! During this consultation, you’ll discuss editing and proofreading services, and book illustrations; as well as, custom book covers. We’re here when you’re ready to make your book available to the rest of the world.