How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?

If you are thinking of writing a book, you might be interested in knowing how long it will take. The answer is ... it depends.
J.K Rowling spent three years writing the fifth Harry Potter novel, but Barbara Cartland writes many of her books in about two weeks. My first book took eighteen months to write and my second nine months.
What makes the difference?
First, I am no Barbara Cartland (or J.K.Rowling). Barbara has written over a hundred books. Experience helps.
Second, I rarely get it right first time.
I have written each of my books at least three times over. Each chapter is written, then left for a while so I can get some perspective on it, then I reread it and see if I enjoy my own writing. If I don’t it is in for an extensive rewrite.
 Even when I am happy with the stories, I still have to go back and edit the language and check for mistakes. You need eyes like an eagle hawk to notice you have missed the word “a” in a sentence or used the wrong version of “there, their, or they’re.” It really helps to have someone else look at it too. After you have reread it three or thirty times, it is easy to read what you think you wrote and not what is there.
Third, most writers recommend a schedule, but I prefer to write only when I feel inspired.
If I insist on writing when I am not inspired, then my writing often sounds hollow and maybe even a little sterile. It might read well, but after I have analysed every sentence, I sometimes lose the emotion. Sometimes after hours of work, I regret the changes and go back to a previous version. Some days, I just can’t seem to get it together.
That doesn’t mean I don’t write, just that I write something else, or work on the cover design, or publicity.
Fourth, formatting a book takes time.
I published through CreateSpace and it takes a while to learn how to add page numbers in the right place or the chapter headings where they belong. If you pay for these services it is simpler, but I wanted to save money. It took me months to work it all out.
Fifth, it takes what it takes.
If you have a full-time job, or young children, or just have trouble focussing (like me) then it will take longer. If you are motivated and work all night, then you could get it written in a few days, just like Barbara Cartland.
The question is, … would it be as readable and engaging as one of Barbara Cartland’s books?
My next project might just be a novel so I have been doing some research. Here are a few blogs about writing that I found helpful
1. Ivory Madison’s Time to Write a Novel in a Month. It is an interesting idea and it could work.
2. Write a Novel in 60 days from Life Learning Today is five years old but has some great ideas including a link to Randy Ingermanson’s great Snowflake Method for setting up a novel. It starts with outlining the plot and characters and then moves on to the main body of the book.
So, how long does it take to write a book?
The best answer is that it takes as long as it takes. Writing a book could take just a few days. Writing a good book could take years. Unless you are Barbara Cartland of course.  According to Wikipedia she wrote 23 novels in 1983.
No matter how long it takes, it is well worth it. It is so satisfying to hold your own book in your hand.
When you write your book, I would love to hear about it.

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Comments welcome. I would love to hear from you.and I read everything..