How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

“How long does it take to write a book?” the girl asked, hopefully.

The older man smiled, winking kindly at the naivety of the question before answering slowly, “It depends”. Like a challenge to debate, he offered her his usual response, one she expected, though she wished that, just this once, instead of his usual hedged-about-caution, he had given a straight answer.….


But it does depend….

….On our motivation, on our personal circumstances, our need to earn a living, keep a household going, be neighbourly… The time taken to complete the writing of a book is directly connected to the time we are prepared to invest in the task. On having the time to begin, continue, and finish; then edit, re-write and polish.

Here are some things to avoid if you want to have a clean, finished draft – which you can then enjoy editing – in under a year.

  • Delete the games installed on your PC’s hard-drive
  • Prioritise either mornings or afternoons
  • Write at least something every day. One or two words, a difficult sentence, a very apposite phrase
  • Believe you can do it, and the actions will follow to make it happen
  • Once in a while, don’t answer the door / the phone / your daughter
  • Once in a while, let someone else make supper

It can take between one year and ten years to write a novel which is good enough that you

  • wouldn’t mind a total stranger reading it and
  • commenting honestly on it.

and that is a good test as to whether the work is finished and ready to put out there.

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