How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

By Steph Fraser | Posted on April 18th, 2019

Aspiring writers always have many questions as they dive into the process of authoring and publishing.

There are several questions that they have in their mind – like how to write a book, how to write a novel, what editing software to use, etc.

One question that stands out is: How long does it take to write a book?

Some writers dream of being a published author and they are anxious to complete the process. They may hope that by asking this question, someone will reassure them that it doesn’t really take that long. 

Sometimes, this may be true.

Other times, writing a book is the longest thing someone will do.

So how long does it take to write a book?

While there is no clear-cut answer, there are many things that can directly affect the time it takes. Analyzing these things might be able to give you a general idea of how long it will take you write a book. 

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book? – Factors

The writing process is different for everyone, and it can even differ from one book of yours to the next.

There are many factors that can determine how long it will take you to write your book. While these can help you get a sense of the timeframe you are looking at, it is important to remember that they are not set in stone.

Genre

The genre of your book can have an impact on how long it will take you to write it. Every genre requires a different set of skills and different methods of planning.

A complex historical drama will need lots of time dedicated to research. A comprehensive fantasy adventure will have you building your world for hours.

On the flipside – a fun, lighthearted romance might not take you as long simply because you can get right to the story without much prep.

Length

The length of a book is not always known in the beginning.

Sometimes what you think might be shorter ends up stretching itself out much longer than anticipated. That being said, some people write short or long books on purpose. 

Others simply know themselves.

Some can recognize that they have a tendency to go far with a story, so they can expect the book they are writing to be longer.

How Much Research is Needed

Research is a very important part of several types of books.

Novels, for instance, need extensive research, even though they are fiction. Historical novels, crime novels, or novels based on true stories will all need lots of research.

On the other hand, some novels will require only base level research. If the novel is a romance, drama, comedy, or even a thriller or horror, you may need only to research the setting. Everything else can just be made up. 

Any nonfiction book will also require varying levels of research.

A biography will need deep research into the life of one person. A true crime novel will need to be researched extensively to ensure all details and accounts are accurate.

A personal memoir, on the other hand, will require very little to no research as you already know everything you need to know about yourself.

How Much Outlining You Desire

Outlining looks different for everyone. Some people like to plan and outline extensively, while others work off of a very loose structure.

It depends and is linked to your initial learning when you started to learn how to write a book.

The outline (or lack thereof) can have a huge impact on the amount of time your book takes to write. Knowing what kind of outline you like to make is important in determining how long your book will take you.

If you need some help outlining, you may consider trying a template:

general fiction template

The templates act as a guide for the story itself. They help you keep the narrative on track and ensure you don’t miss anything specific to your chosen genre.

How Many Times Something Changes

This one is a little more unpredictable, but it does matter.

Even the most meticulously planned out books might have some changes made to them along the way. You might get a brilliant idea halfway through that you know you need to include. If you know how to write a novel, you know what I’m talking about.

Perhaps you think of a great plot twist that will really add to the story, but using it will require some redirecting of the characters and rewriting of certain scenes. You may deem this necessary to get the story where you want it to be, but it will add significant time. 

When writing any book, it is important to be ready for all changes – big and small.

How Many Times You’ve Done it Before

Where you are in your career as a writer can also impact the length of time it takes you to complete the book.

A long-time writer, who doesn’t think a lot on how to write a book and doesn’t always chart an outline, will probably have the process down to a science. While the actual writing time can still vary, things like prep, brainstorming, outlining, and editing will all come quickly to someone who has done it a bunch of times already. 

On the other hand, a new writer may still be figuring how to write a novel and is in the process of figuring out things out for themselves. It might take a few books to perfect your process and figure out what works for you.

If you are still pretty new to writing books, expect your inexperience to take up some extra time.

Editing

Editing the book is a huge and often lengthy part of the process.

You may get your first draft done in a breeze, but that is only the first stage. Most books go through several drafts before they are even considered for publishing. 

When people hear the word “editing” their mind usually goes straight to simple spelling/grammar errors and typos. In reality, this only scratches the surface of editing. 

Proper and thorough editing includes many different elements: 

  1. Spelling
  2. Grammar
  3. Fixing typos
  4. Correcting sentence structure
  5. Perfecting word choice
  6. Filling plot holes
  7. Rewriting scenes that don’t work or aren’t good
  8. Removing contradictions and things that don’t make sense
  9. And much more

While no book will ever go to publishing without extensive editing, your work may require less as time goes on.

Things like spelling, grammar, and even sentence structure and word choice will become easier to get right the first time. 

It also depends if you are using the services of a professional editor or not. This is recommended if you wish to publish, but they are not necessary. Depending on your own editing skills and expertise, forgoing a professional can either add to or take away from the overall time it takes to write your book.  

Use Resources to your Advantage

If you want to get your book written fast, there are some things out there that can help you.

Programs like the ever-popular Nanowrimo (more info here) are in place to help you flex those writing muscles and whip through the first draft. With Nanowrimo, that first draft can be done in just a month. That’s step one taken care of in a flash. 

Software like Squibler can also help you accomplish your goals quickly. Squibler is set up with tools to help you succeed. 

Squibler offers you a place to store and organize your notes. Ideas, brainstorming, planning, and outlining can be done within the program and organized however you like. It is then ready and accessible when you do begin to write. 

It also has a separate section for research. Research is important no matter what you are writing, and Squibler helps you keep it all neat and tidy. It will also be easily accessed if needed while writing. 

Lastly, Squibler is a great place to also write the book itself. With sections for chapters and even scenes to be separated, writing the draft has never been easier.

Start from wherever you want, jump back and forth, and put everything in chronological order later with a simple drag and drop.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book for the First Time?

Regardless of genre, length, the scope of the outline, or anything else, writing your very first book is most likely going to take a very long time. Everything will be new and unknown to you. 

While the writing itself may or may not take up a lot of your time, figuring out your process, is going to be a process in itself.

Don’t grow discouraged if it seems to be taking forever to finish that first book. Every word you write or edit is progress.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book for Seasoned Writers?

Again, the writing itself may be a long or short process depending on the above-mentioned factors.

That being said, if you have written a high volume of books and you know how to write a book, this alone will speed up your writing simply because you are experienced. 

The experience of a seasoned writer will help in other areas of the process as well. They already know exactly how they like to do things.

Experienced writers know what kind of outline they are going to create, and they know their own writing style very well. They have their editing process down pat, and they know what kind of errors and bad habits to expect from themselves.

Writer’s Block Gets Everyone

There is one thing that no one can anticipate exactly, but everyone has to deal with at some point: Writer’s block!

It is a horrible affliction that will cause great suffering in both beginners and seasoned experts alike. 

Writer’s block can come from anywhere at any time. It is a good idea to be prepared for it.

Even if you don’t tend to struggle with it, or you haven’t had it in a long time. Mentally prepare yourself that it may come, and don’t get blindsided.

One thing you can do to prepare is come up with some ideas and inspirations before it hits you, that’s what successful authors do.

Write down some random thoughts, random pieces of dialogue, and some random ideas. Tuck them away in your drawer, and pull them out for motivation when the writer’s block attacks. 

Most of all, just be prepared that writer’s block can come in and prolong your process at any time. Don’t let it get you down, because it happens to even the best!

Make it Easier on Yourself

It is extremely important that you don’t stress yourself out over the time you are taking to write your book.

Don’t beat yourself up either, and definitely, don’t start comparing yourself to others.

This is the fastest and easiest way to find yourself giving up on your project entirely.

The 200 Goal

Goals are completely customizable and you can set them any way you like.

However, a common goal among writers – especially those writing a book – is to write 200 words a day – minimum.

Of course, you can do more if you want.

But, for someone who is overwhelmed, busy, stuck, or all three, 200 words is a small and achievable goal.

If you successfully write 200 words each day for an entire year, you will have reached the length of an average novel. The story itself may or may not be completed, but this is still an accomplishment.

Get Support

If you are truly serious about writing and completing a book, it is advisable that you get some help and support.

The first step is connecting with other writers.

Find and join some writers groups either online, in person, or both. This will give you some people to relate to, talk to, and will help you in understanding on how to write a novel or a book fast.

You can also find help and advice on your writing itself. You may also find you learn something from writers who have different or more advanced skills than yours. 

Support can also come in the form of healthy and constructive criticism. You will never improve as a writer if your flaws and weaknesses are never brought to your attention.

Accept constructive criticism with open arms, and take it into deep consideration. Use any and all comments as a chance to improve yourself.

Write at Your Own Pace

At the end of the day, don’t let timeframes and speed get you discouraged. Everyone writes at their own pace and in their own way.

It is true there are some things that can help you guestimate how long your book is going to take you to write, but these things are always subject to change.

Don’t be afraid of these changes, and don’t be afraid of your book. Whether it takes you 6 weeks or 6 years, don’t give up on telling your story. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.