Writing a book is no easy task – it requires dedication, hard work and quite a bit of planning. It’s the kind of challenge that doesn’t scare me away – on the contrary, I can attest from personal experience that writing books can be extremely rewarding in many ways. But an important question remains: How long does it really take to write a book?
Like any creative endeavour, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer – some people might finish writing their manuscripts in 2 months, while others might require several years of hard effort. However, with the right skills and attitude, you could make your dream book come true in much less time than expected.
Analyzing Your Writing Goals – Know what you want to accomplish with your book before you start writing
Writing a book can be an intimidating undertaking, but if you set realistic goals before you start, breaking the process down into manageable steps becomes much easier. It is important to take a step back and reflect on what exactly you want to accomplish with your writing – do you dream of becoming a published author, or do you simply wish to convey certain ideas and emotions?
Spend some time determining why you are writing and how you hope your readers will be affected. Setting realistic expectations for the finished product can help make sure that it is something that both meets your own criteria for success as well as something other people will enjoy reading.
Estimating the Length of Your Book – Figure out how long your book should be before you begin and set realistic goals
Writing a book is an extremely rewarding experience but requires commitment and discipline. It’s important to take the time to do your research, plan ahead, and make sure that the length you are aiming for is realistic. The last thing you want to do is set out on a journey to write your masterpiece only to get halfway through and realize you are too far in to turn back, but not quite close enough to finish. When estimating the length of your book you need calculate how many pages or words it would be based on the requirements of its genre while also setting multiple milestones in order to stay motivated along the way.
A novel is usually expected to be upwards of 45000 words, although shorter ones do exist. Many older books (including the likes of Agatha Christie) fall below this mark, while others (like the Game of Thrones series and Lord of the Rings) can massively exceed this number.
I believe the most important factor is to tell the story well. Don’t pad it to make it longer, but include enough details to ensure that your reader is taken on the journey you imagined.
Setting a Schedule – Figure out how many hours per day or week you can commit to writing your book
As I started writing my first book, I realized that setting a schedule for myself was critical. It wasn’t only about having set days and times to write, but also about figuring out how many hours per day or week I could commit. It’s important to be realistic when thinking about this, taking into consideration the other obligations in your life and your comfort level with devoting time to such an extensive project. Ultimately, though, I learned that it’s better to start small and work up, rather than biting off more than you can chew. Even devoting a few hours here and there can go a long way toward getting you to the finish line.
In fact, I now don’t set a specific number of hours to writing – I set a word count target. You might find aiming for 500 or 1000 words a day to be a good start. The more you practice, the faster you’ll hit that target, and there’s no problem increasing your target as you get further through the project.
Leave Room for Editing and Revisions – Keep in mind that editing and revisions will take additional time than the actual writing process
That’s right, you should always leave room for editing and revisions. It’s kind of like an insurance policy to make sure your written work is the best it can be. Sure, you might need an extra day (or week…or month) for those adjustments, but making sure it’s top-notch will pay off in the end. Good writing takes a bit more effort – it requires thoughtfulness, attention to detail and the willingness to revise old ideas or add new ones. Consider those things part of your craft! That way, when you submit your paper or article, you know that it represents your very best work.
You might be able to write 5000 words a day and produce a novel in just over a week – but is it the best it could be? Did the plot go off at a tangent part way through? Could you have used better words and phrasing?
Get Support from Others – Find a supportive community or friends who are willing to help you stay motivated and on track with your writing project
When embarking on a big writing project, it’s important to seek out support. Having a supportive community of friends or family who care about what you’re doing and are willing to help you stay motivated and on track is invaluable. You don’t have to do it all alone – there are people looking out for you, so lean into that and make the most of it!
There’s no greater power than having others on your team cheering you on and holding you accountable every step of the way. It’ll give you strength when things get tough, which (let’s be honest) they sometimes will.
You can find groups online, and there’s a strong writing community on Twitter. Start with the #amwriting tag and see where it leads you!
In sum, writing a book is no small feat and should be taken seriously. To ensure your own success when you embark on this journey, be sure to set meaningful and realistic goals for yourself by analyzing your purposes for writing, estimating the length of the book you want to write, setting a strong schedule, breaking up big tasks into smaller ones whenever possible, leaving room for editing and revisions during your timeline, and getting support from people who can help motivate you.
It’s easy to launch into writing and hope for the best, but the road to hell is littered with unfinished novels. Or something like that.
As author Sophie Kinsella famously said: “There’s no luck in business. There’s only drive, determination, and more drive.”