Lauren asked how long it takes to write a book. She had heard two years.
It takes as long as you take to write it, Lauren. Which depends on several things.
- How long the book is. My shortest to date is 40,000 words. My longest is 150,000. That’s a difference of three or four times the length to start with. And some writers go on for hundreds of thousands of words.
- How much care you want to take over writing it. No sneering here: there are a lot of bad reasons for taking a long time over writing. And it IS possible to write a 100,000 words in six weeks. But it usually shows if you do. Some writers take ten years, carefully and painstakingly going over the text, waiting patiently for the ideas to emerge from their little dark burrows. They take all that care over their work. I’d say that shows too.
- When you think you’ve finished. Which is quite hard to say. Granted, a book that’s published and out there is almost certainly finished, but even that’s not always sure. If it isn’t published – if it went out and got rejected and its ghost still haunts your disk drive – why, who’s to say that you might not start over again?
These unhelpful thoughts aside, I’d say that since I gave up my career I’ve produced, on average, about one book a year in a form that I thought was ‘finished’. That’s slower than many authors, and certainly not as fast as some people say you need to produce if you want to be successful as a writer of light fiction. On the other hand it seems to be plenty fast enough for my editor, thank you, who has been good enough to publish five of them and may yet be persuaded to do one or two more. And it’s a lot faster than I managed while I was a civil servant (three books in seventeen years, writing in fits and starts as it pleased me.)
Could I be faster? Yes I could. Would it be any better for me if I were? I doubt it. Certainly I don’t think my writing would be better. That counts with me.