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Thread: How long does it take to write a book?

  1. #76
    Livin' la vida biblia ASeiple's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laer Carroll View Post
    Classic symptoms of addiction! I wonder if there's twelve-step program for that.
    If there is, please let me know so I can stay far away from it. Don't want to risk losing my mojo.

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  2. #77
    Abnormal Romance Author thethinker42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASeiple View Post
    There's no wrong way to write. Do whatever makes your stories.
    Totally agree. I've had SO MANY people (condescendingly) tell me I shouldn't focus on word counts, quotas, etc., for various reasons...but that's what drives me forward when I start to slump. Of course the story drives me, but those quotas and goals (along with deadlines) keep me writing when I really want to be lazy. Discipline and all.

    I'm in this for the long-haul, come what may. Be interesting to see what shifts when I manage to make this a full-time job.
    Good luck! For what it's worth, when I went full-time, I turned into a workaholic -- 12-14 hour days, 6-7 day weeks -- to the point it nearly cost me my marriage and my health. I've since scaled back to a more reasonable schedule. I probably work around 50 hours a week now, keeping a consistent output of 5,000 words a day (more if I feel like it or I'm on serious crunch time). So, the moral to my cautionary tale -- full-time can become FULL-TIME very easily. I expected to be lazy, and wound up being a workaholic. Moderation, yo.
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  3. #78
    Abnormal Romance Author thethinker42's Avatar
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    Those who want to tack word counts -- I've got a spreadsheet I've been using for several years now. If you'd like a copy to see if it works for you, let me know.
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  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by thethinker42 View Post
    /.../Good luck! For what it's worth, when I went full-time, I turned into a workaholic -- 12-14 hour days, 6-7 day weeks -- to the point it nearly cost me my marriage and my health. I've since scaled back to a more reasonable schedule. I probably work around 50 hours a week now, keeping a consistent output of 5,000 words a day (more if I feel like it or I'm on serious crunch time). So, the moral to my cautionary tale -- full-time can become FULL-TIME very easily. I expected to be lazy, and wound up being a workaholic. Moderation, yo.
    Cheers with my coffee cup! On my side the marriage also began at one point grazing riffs and taking water and boy did I suddenly make a U turn from totally submerged workaholic hermit to sane and caring spouse. One cool side effect is it motivated me to stop trying to write the perfect book--that's a weight off my shoulders.

    The workaholic hermit stuff could be OK if you're single... or if you live with the same type of person and your utopia is growling at each other with bleary eyes and then making wild love on the kitchen floor while both trying to remember relevant details to later include in the manuscript.
    Last edited by JCornelius; 06-02-2017 at 09:19 AM.

  5. #80
    Abnormal Romance Author thethinker42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCornelius View Post
    Cheers with my coffee cup! On my side the marriage also began at one point grazing riffs and taking water and boy did I suddenly make a U turn from totally submerged workaholic hermit to sane and caring spouse. One cool side effect is it motivated me to stop trying to write the perfect book--that's a weight off my shoulders.
    I still struggle with the perfectionist tendencies, but I've at least been able to cut myself some slack in terms of productivity. Yes, I'd damn well better produce 5,000 words on a work day, but maybe not *every* day needs to be work day. And maybe I don't need to work until bedtime every day. So...it's better now. I don't burn out as badly (which is great since my last Bout O' Burnout manifested itself in a 4-month ordeal of walking pneumonia), and my marriage is much better. So it's all good. Balance, moderation, etc.

    The workaholic hermit stuff could be OK if you're single... or if you live with the same type of person and your utopia is growling at each other with bleary eyes and then making wild love on the kitchen floor while both trying to remember relevant details to later include in the manuscript.
    Fortunately, I live with someone who's more or less a hermit too. We socialize on occasion, and we travel a lot, but for the most part we're both content to stay home with our cats. As long as I balance my work time with my not-work time, we're good.
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  6. #81
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin T.O.Shadow's Avatar
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    Just adding my vote for the "everyone is different" box. I have been writing for a long time, some books go insanely fast (My last book was done and edited for 2nd draft in 3.5 weeks at 100k words(god I love that book)) and others go glacially slow (My first book took 5 years at 168k words). But then again, I'm a discovery writer through and through; we tend to do things . . . um, differently.

    It seems like everyone writes how they write. I would say though, I have noticed that a good way to kill a series is to not finish subsequent books in a timely fashion. just my observation.
    Last edited by T.O.Shadow; 06-13-2017 at 03:03 AM.
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  7. #82
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    I've written 40k+ in one day. For Nano -- I always go slow in the beginning and then take the last day off to write like crazy. And it shows. I usually end up deleting a big portion of it.

    But when it's not Nano, I'm slow, because I think through everything before I write it down, of how it affects the rest of the plot. But it's much cleaner. So my rough drafting is the part that takes longer, and the editing goes by quickly. I also am one of those weirdos that prefer the editing portion.

    But I think I'd be able to write a few thousand in a day on a regular basis if I wrote full time. Well, if I don't procrastinate. :P
    Last edited by chompers; 06-12-2017 at 05:55 AM.

  8. #83
    Three of a perfect pair. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.O.Shadow View Post
    I'm a discovery writer through and through; we are the spastic crazy kids of the insane asylum that are writers.
    Can we please not use this kind of language to talk about writing? It demeans mental illness.

    Thanks.
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  9. #84
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin T.O.Shadow's Avatar
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    Sorry, I didn't mean to be insensitive. It just never offends me when people say things like that (I have AS myself, so . . .) I will edit it though. Apologies.
    "The thing that gets us into the most trouble isn't what we don't know, but what we know for sure that just ain't so."

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  10. #85
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    I just focus on writing a little every day, with more for the weekend. I've been able to hit about 500 words on weekdays and on weekends between 1500-2500. That way, even though I'm a first time writer, I've been able to make steady progress. Having some kind of goal helps, at least to me.
    First time writer. Go ahead, rain on my parade!

  11. #86
    ... with the High Command Dave.C.Robinson's Avatar
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    I spent fifteen years of fits and starts on my first novel and then sat down and decided I was going to finish it. I wrote the first draft in just under a year by forcing myself to write every day. I needed the "write every day" thing to get over the first novel hump, but I haven't felt the same need for any subsequent book. My most recent novel took just under four months to draft, but I can already feel the next one is going more slowly.

    The only thing I know is that as long as I keep writing I can and will finish this book and whatever comes next. I don't have to follow any other rules than don't delete the work and keep on going.


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  12. #87
    practical experience, FTW Cekrit's Avatar
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    It took me one month to write 124,000 words. It took me another year and a half to edit that.

  13. #88
    practical experience, FTW HarvesterOfSorrow's Avatar
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    Holy shit. The draft of my last novel that I sent out to agents was 124,000 words, and it took me just over eleven months to cut it down to that (first draft was almost 152,000 words). Writing that in a month, I mean, I can't even fathom that.
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  14. #89
    figuring it all out _lvbl's Avatar
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    It took me about a year to write/edit a 100,000 manuscript to my liking for a first draft!

  15. #90
    practical experience, FTW Cekrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarvesterOfSorrow View Post
    Holy shit. The draft of my last novel that I sent out to agents was 124,000 words, and it took me just over eleven months to cut it down to that (first draft was almost 152,000 words). Writing that in a month, I mean, I can't even fathom that.
    It wasn't healthy. The company I had worked for had closed its doors and I was just a college kid on winter break. We closed December 7th and I finished the novel by New years, it was a personal challenge.

    Was it Hemmingway that said "Write drunk, edit sober"?

    Well I took that very seriously. I had locked myself in my room with two gallons of wine and wrote until I either ran out, or passed out. The only time I would leave would be when my girlfriend coaxed me to go get food, or I needed to get more wine. I'd wake up around noon, and write until 2-3am. Wash, rinse, repeat. By new years I had 124,000 words and an oddly coherent novel as far as story line went. Editing took so long because i spelt so many words wrong. "Petals" on a flower was spelled "peddles," for instance, or a "throne" i'd spelt "thrown."

    Basic stuff, but easy to mess up on when the words are surging out of you.

    When I did sleep, I drempt. I have been lucid dreaming for about 7 years now, and when I sleep i have full control over my dreams. I'd enter into my world and live through my MC, then wake up and pour my experience onto the page.

    Wasn't healthy, but it got the job done. It took me a long time after that to edit- but gave me a great product.

    Not sure i'f I'd take that approach again.
    Last edited by Cekrit; 06-29-2017 at 09:23 PM.

  16. #91
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    Everybody is different. Every novel (hopefully) is different.
    How long does it take to find a spouse? You can do it in four months or 14 years and come out both times with a great or lousy spouse.
    Like a famous writer told a movie producer -- "do you want it Thursday or do you want it good?"

  17. #92
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cekrit View Post
    It wasn't healthy. The company I had worked for had closed its doors and I was just a college kid on winter break. We closed December 7th and I finished the novel by New years, it was a personal challenge.

    Was it Hemmingway that said "Write drunk, edit sober"?

    Well I took that very seriously. I had locked myself in my room with two gallons of wine and wrote until I either ran out, or passed out. The only time I would leave would be when my girlfriend coaxed me to go get food, or I needed to get more wine. I'd wake up around noon, and write until 2-3am. Wash, rinse, repeat. By new years I had 124,000 words and an oddly coherent novel as far as story line went. Editing took so long because i spelt so many words wrong. "Petals" on a flower was spelled "peddles," for instance, or a "throne" i'd spelt "thrown."

    Basic stuff, but easy to mess up on when the words are surging out of you.

    When I did sleep, I drempt. I have been lucid dreaming for about 7 years now, and when I sleep i have full control over my dreams. I'd enter into my world and live through my MC, then wake up and pour my experience onto the page.

    Wasn't healthy, but it got the job done. It took me a long time after that to edit- but gave me a great product.

    Not sure i'f I'd take that approach again.
    Well, you know what happened to Hemingway.


  18. #93
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helix View Post
    Well, you know what happened to Hemingway.
    Indeed.

    There's a huge amount of writing-related mythology which says that great writers are emotionally flawed, depressed, addicted and compulsive.

    It's nonsense.

    Yes, some writers are all those things. But many more aren't, and the most reliable method of becoming a great writer is to work your socks off while taking really good care of yourself, physically and emotionally.

    Locking yourself in a room with nothing but a typewriter, alcohol, and cigarettes and powering through isn't going to do it.

    (I once met a man who was in Spain with Hemingway. He was the only man to ever knock Hemingway down in a fight, and Hemingway never forgave him for it. Also, he was a really good writer. Morley Callaghan. Worth looking up. Long gone, much missed.)

  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cekrit View Post
    Was it Hemmingway that said "Write drunk, edit sober"?
    It may have been. Which is a slightly more rational approach than that allegedly taken by William Faulkner, which can be summarized as "Write drunk, don't edit."

    caw
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  20. #95
    Go down road, go pub. Mary Mitchell's Avatar
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    When I first saw the title of this thread I thought it was a joke question, and that the answer was obvious--that you won't know until you're done. And from the variety of replies, it looks like that's actually correct.
    It's a simple fact of life that not everyone will be your target audience.

  21. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Mitchell View Post
    When I first saw the title of this thread I thought it was a joke question, and that the answer was obvious--that you won't know until you're done. And from the variety of replies, it looks like that's actually correct.
    I don't think it was a joke question, but, yeah, there's no answer other than "however long it takes". And that depends not only on the writer, but on the story as well.

    caw
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    -- Terry Pratchett

  22. #97
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    Too much subjectivity here, let me attempt an anchoring in the phenomenological reality

    I think speed factors can be divided roughly into "internal", "external" and "professional".

    1. "Internal factors" are those to do with inspiration, imagination, skill, typing speed, focus, discipline, need or lack of such for total immersion for hours or days, need to develop personal techniques or their presence already.

    2. "External factors" are those to do with health, job obligations, family obligations, place to write.

    3. "Professional factors" are those to do with where one is in the journey--unpublished, published, unsuccessful, successful, franchise writer, original content creator, serial vs standalone novels, genre, complexity, etc.

    The realistic assessment of the combination of those three factors at any given point give the basic answer to "how fast will I write this book?"

    #

    A pro writing for a franchise, living as a bachelor as or a family member in a situation in which the needed time and space is not an issue, and health is not acting up, can knock out an installment in a fortnight or less. Someone with frail health, many responsibilities, and only limited time and space, may take two years or more for something similar.

    And even just "internal factors" like temperament and immersion needs can vary greatly, as can be seen by comparing authors who belonged/belong to basically the same generation and wrote/write basically the same things in terms of genre, complexity, length, and success.

    Iain Banks could write in a couple of months a novel that would take Martin Amis* two or more years.
    John Saul can write in two months a novel which Dean Koontz would need a full year for, while Thomas Harris** would need years and years of agony for that same novel.
    Stephen King's The Stand was written in like a quarter of the time Robert McCammon needed for basically an identical novel***, called "Swan Song".
    During the heyday of New Wave fantasy and sci-fi, Roger Zelazny would basically need a month to write what Michael Moorcock**** wrote in a day. And so on.

    #

    If, when examining where the Internal Factors, the External Factors, and the Professional Factors intersect for one here and now, one sees that in principle (as in "if only this and this happened") one can write the book in a couple of months, but in practice (because "this and this will not happen") will probably need a couple of years, then the real writing speed, here and now, of this author, is not the imaginary one that needs ideal conditions, but the actual one, that needs to take into account the non-ideal conditions.

    Know thyself inside out, know your situation without denial, and the answer on writing speed shall be forthcoming.
    ____
    * Yet in terms of quality and genre it was a "Blur vs Oasis" situation.
    ** Pearl Jam vs Sound Garden vs Alice in Chains, or, for even older farts, Slayer vs Megadeth vs Metallica.
    ***The Stand vs Swan Song is a bit of a "Sgt Pepper vs Pet Sounds" situation, but much, much closer than those two.
    **** Led Zeppelin vs Black Sabbath.
    Last edited by JCornelius; 07-05-2017 at 12:31 PM.

  23. #98
    practical experience, FTW greendragon's Avatar
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    Great information on this thread! I write like Eric Flint... well, in terms of pace at least. Quality is another story! (pun intended).

    I write about 2,000 words a day, weekdays only, when I'm 'in the novel'. It takes me about two months to finish the first draft. Then probably 3-4 months of editing, waiting for beta readers, help from my authors' group, etc., before I submit it to my publisher. I have been doing 2-3 novels a year for the last few years, and I just started writing about 4 years ago. My ninth book is going on sale in July, so it's working out pretty well so far!

    I started blogging my process, step by step, for anyone who is interested. The series isn't finished yet, but it's up to the part where the novel was accepted by my publisher, so a good chunk is done! Woohoo!

    And as a caveat, this is MY process. That doesn't mean it will work for anyone else. It might help others, it might not. We all write differently and at different paces.

    As an addendum, I HAVE written 13,000 words in a day. That took all day, I was at the end of a 100K word novel, and I barreled towards that 'light at the end of the tunnel' with all engines gunning. It was exhausting!
    Last edited by greendragon; 07-05-2017 at 09:33 PM.

  24. #99
    Stand in the Place Where You Live KTC's Avatar
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    I write my novels in 72 hours without sleep (or with as little sleep as possible). And then I edit for a few months. MNM
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