Creative Writing 101,  Facts of Life,  Indie Author Life,  Writing World

Let’s Talk: How Long Does It Really Take To Write A Book

There is a misconception in the writing world that if a book is written in under a certain time frame, say, one year, that said book can’t possibly be any good.

Obviously, as a relatively fast writer, I used to find this mindset offensive. But then I started thinking: am I really that fast of a writer? Including everything from brainstorming to the final edit – how long exactly does it take me to write a book? Looking at my track record, I realized that maybe fast writing isn’t as fast as people think it is.

I’m going to illustrate my example with the timelines from NO REST FOR THE WICKED and WINTER’S SIREN. For brevity, I’ll only highlight the major points.

No Rest for the Wicked
May 2015 – got idea
August – set story aside to bake more
March 2016 – did some brainstorming and picked the story back up
June – finished first draft
August – finished second round of edits
October – got beta feedback and did more editing
January 2017 – third and final round of professional editing
February – final read through

From start to finish, that’s almost two years.

Winter’s Siren
Spring or Fall 2014?? – got idea??
December 2014 – brainstorming
December 2015 – (of the next year!) changed direction and had a massive dump of information from the voices in my head (aka my wonderful, fabulous, monstrous characters)
February 2016 – wrote chapter one and part of chapter two
October – picked up story and finished chapter two
November – February 2017 – wrote off and on between rounds of editing NRFTW
March – finished first draft
June – finished second round of editing after beta feedback
August – finished second and last round of professional editing
September – final read through

From start to finish…I don’t even know what that is. Three years?

But you can see why I was initially offended. NRFTW took about two and a half months to finish the first draft once I picked it back up and around 10 months overall to write and edit to completion (deleting all the time spent doing nothing and sitting on it). Winter’s Siren took one month to finish after I was completely done with NRFTW and just under 10 months overall. Counting all the time spent brainstorming and doing whatever minor kind of research I do and just plum letting it bake? YEARS, apparently!

No wonder I draft so fast. The story is dying to come out after all that time!

Do I believe someone can write a great story from conception to final edit in three months? Absolutely. That person is not me, obviously, but I 100% believe it’s possible, and I’m happy for them. I even believe I could do it with the right idea and circumstances. Length of time from concept to finish product doesn’t have anything to do with quality. You can work on a story for three years and it be crap. Quality is determined by the writer, and everyone is at different skill and experience levels.

Can a book be terrible because of speed? Of course! And I wholeheartedly believe that if someone has only been writing for a few years, it’s very difficult to write a quality book in three months. But the individual writing journey is individual. 

I’m currently working on getting the first draft of “Whisper” finished by the 31st. It’s a story I’ve been baking for over four years, and I had pretty much given up on it. I’ve tried to work on it two other times. First, after half a page of writing, I got worried that I would ruin it, because I suck, so I set it aside. Then I tried to make it YA, and you know what happens when you force something. NOTHING GOOD. I finally went back to the original plan this past June and just dived into it.

Everything I write is always different from the story that came before it, but I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that this is okay. I certainly don’t want unrelated stories to all sound the same. But it can be intimidating when you really love the story that came before it, and get afraid that the current story won’t be as good.

I also mention this because you never know when an idea will stop being stuck all of a sudden. Or when something can be rewritten. Or when an old story idea can start making sense at long last.

Speaking of “Whisper,” I’m actually working with the cover designer now!! >.< This spot was supposed to be for “The Puppet Box” but after that crashed, the spot went to “Whisper.” Not to worry though, in true me fashion, “The Puppet Box” is starting to come back together. 🙂 Still needs to be rewritten from chapter three, but that’s okay. #writerslife

And while on the topic of books, I bought a crap ton of books lately, and I have a video where I’m petting showcasing them all HERE! 😀


  • Tonja Drecker

    Everyone is different. Every book is different. I know authors who put out several books a year (and I love them), and others who take ten years to right one. I belong to the later group 🙂 No, seriously, I let my ideas stew quite a bit first before they hit paper. Then, it usually goes fast. Usually. But sometimes, those characters get stubborn. It’s interesting to see how everyone works differently!

    • Krystal Jane

      Every book is definitely different! I’m still waiting for the one that will come together in 90 days. LOL!

      I think it’s okay to let an idea stew for 10 years. 🙂 Most of my ideas are a lot older than I think they are because they live in pieces for a while before they come together.

  • Michelle Athy

    I am about to get into outlining my series idea–they take place around the same time, so I want to make sure they make sense in terms of where they can intersect, PLUS I’m hella tired of my usual mid-first draft hissy fit like I’m having now with The Bride of Banner’s Edge because these characters are great individually but they’re taking their sweet time getting together and it’s kind of supposed to be a romance. Grr.

    • Krystal Jane

      Dude, I love outlines! I’m slowly piecing together an outline for “The Puppet Box” rewrite. And I have a flow chart of events for my two duologies, whenever those will happen. I plan on organizing all of them during NaNoWriMo so I can hit the ground running with something when “Whisper” is done.

  • Thea Landen

    Different people do different things differently, oh noes! 😀

    I’ve knocked out novels SUPER fast before. I’ve also spent a year on one novella. There’s no one right formula, or a single indicator that says whether a book is going to be good or bad.

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