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How long does it take to write a novel?

Many aspiring authors might wonder how long it will take them to write that novel they have running around in their head. That could depend on quite a few things.

It will depend on how well you have your novel planned. If you have already developed the characters and have a solid outline, it will take you less time than if you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type writer who has very little planned in advance.

How long it takes to write a novel, depends on the type of novel you are writing. A romance set in your hometown will take less planning than a sci-fi thriller set on another world. If you need to do research or build whole worlds you will need to do more work before you can begin writing.

Let’s say that all this is already done, and you are ready to write. How long it will take will depend on how much time you have to write. If you squeeze in your writing time here and there, you may only get an hour or so done a day. If you don’t have kids or a job and can write all day long, you will of course get done much faster.

And of course, the length of the novel – 70,000 words verses 150,000 words – will make a difference in how long it takes to write your novel.

If you want to write a 70,000-word novel and can write 1,000 words in an hour, it is going to take 70 hours to write a rough draft – and this doesn’t include any thinking time. Personally, I find it hard to write 1000 words of my novel in an hour. I can whip out a 500-word blog in less than an hour but for some reason it always takes me longer when I am working on my book. Perhaps it is because I am not writing to meet a goal as some other authors do. Some authors write just for the sake of writing that first draft and then discard a lot of it when they work on their second draft. I have the habit of writing and editing at the same time so it of course is going to take me longer to write.

But back to the example of a 70,000 word novel. Let’s play with several scenarios.

Example #1:

You write one hour a day, 5 days a week. If you are writing 1,000 words a day, you would be done with your first draft in 14 weeks (or 3 ½ months).

Example #2:

You write here and there but certainly not 1,000 words a day. Maybe you only average 600 words a day. It will take you 117 days to write your book. If you are able to do that daily, it will take 17 weeks (a little over 4 months). Obviously, if you aren’t able to write daily it would take you even longer.

Example #3:

You write 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is your only job. If you can crank out 1,000 words an hour, you would be done with your first draft would be done in less than 2 weeks! But if you aren’t churning out 8,000 words a day (whether it takes you longer to formulate your ideas or you get distracted by social media or YouTube), you may be doing half that amount in a day. You are still done with your novel in just a month.

As you can see, every author will have different writing circumstances. You will hear stories of novels that were written in very short times while others can take years and years to write. You may hear about famous authors who crank out novels on a regular basis or read that some Indie authors can get one done in three months while others will say it takes about a year. It all depends on too many variables – genre, experience, length of novel, and of course how many hours a day the writer is working.

So, don’t compare yourself to others. Write your way – whether that is daily for hours on end or a bit here and there. You will get there at your own rate. And remember, you can’t publish a novel if you don’t write.

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