How lengthy does it take to write down a e book?
How long does it take to write a book? Writing the first draft of a book is an exhausting, intimidating process. But it doesn't have to be a slow process.
If you ask a hundred authors how long it takes them to write their first drafts, you will get a hundred different answers. There's no perfect time for a first draft.
However, you will find that the writers whose answer is closer to a few months than a few years are most likely more successful.
Are you ready to write your book? The writing planner will help you make the most of your writing time so that you can finish your book in six months – or much less! Take a look at the writing planner »
A story of two books
I've written my first book in a month. It was terrible and short for a novel (48,000 words instead of the usual 65,000). I didn't revise this book because it was a project that was more cathartic than one I wanted to share with the world. This manuscript is languishing in my basement somewhere and gathering dust. And good release.
My second book took three years. About a year and a half to write the first draft, and the rest were revisions. I will publish this book later this year.
Given the poor quality of my first one, you'd think my second would be outstanding. It is not. I'm doing one more revision as I prepare to get the book out this year.
Why isn't my second book much better than the first? There are several reasons.
1. I've learned
In those three years I learned a lot about writing. During that time, I wrote and published short stories, joined an online writing community, and read every writing book I could find. Learning, getting valuable feedback from colleagues in my writing community, and seeing exactly what editors were looking for by submitting short stories changed my writing drastically.
2. I got bored
I got bored. My enthusiasm for the project grew and decreased over the years. I mean, three years is a long time to work on something.
3. History has changed
History was always changing. Life happens, and a lot of life can happen in three years. Writers use their experiences in their craft, and my experiences kept swinging my story back and forth. I wanted to say different things at different times. In short, I was struggling to keep track of the basic meaning of my story.
The second book might be out this year, but after working with a development editor, I'm still doing a pretty big revision on it. The editor helped me focus on my core ideas. Leafing through the book for the seven hundredth time, I see how many tangential scenes need to be cut and how many plot holes need to be filled.
My third book
I wrote the first draft of my third book in three months on The Write Practice's 100-day book program. While I was writing I have not reread what I have written so far. I just wrote.
When I finished, I let the manuscript sit for a few days, took a deep breath (and ducked a lot, if I'm honest), then sat down to read it through the first time.
I read the book in one sitting and hid in a dark hole. I planned to keep the book to myself until I had done at least one more draft. I was expecting terrible writing. I expected tons of plot holes. I expected the characters to fluctuate in their development and make terrible decisions that didn't make sense.
I almost cried when I finished the last sentence.
The book wasn't terrible. At all. In fact, I gave my husband the raw, typos-missed first draft to read as soon as he got home from work. And he didn't think it was terrible either.
I am very confident to work on this third novel. I know that I can prepare it for publication in the three typical drafts I do for my short stories. It won't take me nearly three years to finish, and that gets me over the moon.
The case for writing first drafts faster
After writing my first book at breakneck speed, I was skeptical about writing fast. The muse would come when it did, I thought. A real writer works when inspiration comes, I thought.
It turns out that inspiration is a capricious beast, and if you wait for it you may feel more like a "writer" (maybe the cliché of coffee shops drinking espresso while thinking about human condition all day) but you won't actually be a writer. You will be a procrastinator.
One general rule of thumb when writing short stories is this: write in one sitting because it will be read in one sitting. Of course, unless you are a superhero or do drugs, writing a novel in one sitting won't happen, but the concept still applies.
Why? Your story will become smoother and more coherent if it is written continuously. You will also find it easier to maintain the excitement.
(Note: I'm not saying that some days you won't hate your story. That's normal. I'm saying that overall you won't hate your story that much.)
How do I write a quick first draft?
Okay, I may have convinced you to write a quick first draft. That's great, you say, but how do I write so fast? There are lots of little tricks like writing sprints that can help you move mentally faster. However, the following five tips are the basics of writing a quick first draft.
1. Set deadlines.
Deadlines are your friend. I know I'm taking all the magic out of this writing thing, but it's true. You have to set deadlines. And you have to meet her.
As a writer, it's all about deadlines: when to submit short stories; when you can send your latest draft to your editor; when to publish your book. The industry is full of deadlines so get used to it. Learn to love them.
Set and meet a weekly word count deadline.
2. Develop a writing routine.
I'm not saying that you have to write every day, but you definitely need to save time as often as possible. I speak for a few hours every day at least four days a week.
Don't let anyone mess around with your writing routine. Guard it like a child.
Don't read or worry about typos, grammatical errors, etc. Just write. If you can't think of a word, make a note and move on. If you need to do more research, take a note and move on.
Your goal with a first draft is to write the basic story down, not to write profound prose out of the gate.
4. Get accountability.
Get some accountability. Tell people that you are writing a book. (This also helps in protecting your writing time.) Tell everyone.
They will regularly ask you how it is going. The shame of possibly not finishing up and having to admit that to the world will keep you updated.
5. Take part in a challenge.
NaNoWriMo is a good place to start. It's free and makes you feel like the first draft is done.
If you're looking for something slower and less manic, try The Write Practice's 100-Day Book Program. You expose other writers to challenges. This is not only ideal for networking, but also enables you to do business with other authors, supports you if necessary and makes you responsible.
If you would like to write a book, we would be happy to support you. Take the next semester of the 100 day book and finish your book. Click here to login "
The breakneck speed is not for everyone
How long does it take to write a book?
I know that NaNoWriMo is not for me. In a month, my writing just won't shine, as my first book shows.
But three years are not for me either.
Ultimately, you need to find out what works for you. How fast do you have to write to finish a book that isn't riddled with random tangent scenes? How slowly do you have to write to maintain your sleep schedule and sanity? This sweet spot seems to be for me in three months. You have to find your own writing sweet spot.
Just please don't do it for three years.
Write at your own pace and finish your book with The Write Planner. The Write Planner is equipped with all the tools you need to make the most of your writing time. It will walk you through the book-writing process in six months – or much faster -.
Take a look at the writing planner
Are you writing your first drafts quickly or slowly? Let me know in the comments!
For today's practice, set a timer for fifteen minutes and write. Write as quickly as possible without editing or rereading the previous sentence.
Do you need a command prompt to get started? Write about a woman who has just lost her job.
Do share your writing in the comments so we can all review it. Also, let us know how many words you wrote! Don't forget to read and comment on your colleagues' work!
Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of short stories that deal with awkward situations, fundamental fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She has just published Surviving Death, her first novel, and is currently working on her next book.
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