Updated: Jan 16
If you've spent any amount of time in the #writersofinstagram community, you've prolly seen a lot of posts about how to draft a book quickly, how to beat writing challenges like NaNoWriMo, increase daily word count, or other such posts. Or maybe you've spent some time wistfully looking after other authors who seem to churn out a dreamy number of books a year.
So let's talk about that.
How long should it take you to write a book?
The short answer? However long it takes you.
The long answer however is a bit more complicated ...
1. Emotional Capacity
Books are an art form, which means they take emotion to create. Sometimes we're in a good place emotionally and being able to feel empathetic toward our characters and write realistic emotions comes easily. Other times, it doesn't.
It's okay to be in a place where you're not emotionally capable of writing a lot. Writing can be healing, but it can also be draining. Sometimes the things we need to write for our audiences and our stories can be triggering for ourselves.
If you're in a place where you don't have a lot of emotional capacity, it's okay to take a break from writing, or to take it slow. Maybe even work on a different project. Your health comes first, your writing will naturally follow.
The hard truth is, some genres, styles, and age groups (YA, MG, etc) take longer or shorter to write than others.
Epic fantasy sagas are going to take longer to write than a "hallmark" contemporary romance.
Adult will take longer than Middle Grade.
Even some books in the same genre will take longer to write. Epic fantasies will be more lengthy than a comfort high/low fantasy.
Knowing the general word count your genre has, how complicated you want your plot to be and the reading comprehension level of your audience will help put a realistic timeline on your drafts.
Regardless of genre, your book's content will affect how long it takes to write.
Keeping up with 4 main characters is going to take more time and energy than just 1. If you have books in a series, planning how the books will connect and plotting the overarching story will take longer than a standalone. Having one plot line with a few side plots won't take as long to write as several plotslines and dozens of side plots.
Other things like worldbuilding, language making, historical research, character design, and timeliness will also determine how long it takes for you to write.
If you have a complicated world and characters with a lot of worldbuilding, be excited that it's taking a while! It's supposed to.
Before I begin, I have to say, I dont want to give the impression I'm railing on authors who release a lot of books often, because I'm not, some authors have everything figured out and that's great!
BUT! If you're following an author who seems to release a lot of books in a short amount of time and it can be discouraging when you're stuck on the same project.
Remember: any great work of art, or anything of quality, takes time to create. Editing, rewriting, reviewing, beta reading, drafting, etc takes a LOT of time. Unfortunately a lot of author who churn out books like rabbits are not publishing high quality works.
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO THEM.
Everyone is on a different path. They could never write what you're writing and vise versa.
Remember to spend time honing your craft.
Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is, writing a book should only take as long as it takes. I spent 2 years writing 800 pages of my epic fantasy and then another 5 years turning that first draft into 3, then 4, then 6 books and finally something I could start to publish. I also wrote 60k words in one month last year for a side WIP.
Not everything you write will take the same amount of time. You won't write like other authors. Some projects need more time and attention than others.
What matters is that you do right by yourself and your project. Make sure you're healthy and you're putting the effort and time into your book that it deserves.
The book will come.
Remember to enjoy it in the meantime
Hopefully this was helpful! Subscribe to get updates on my writing and for writing/publishing tips and tricks!
Thanks for reading and may the suns smile upon your presence
-Effie Joe Stock