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Fun > How long to write your first book?

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message 1: by J. Daniel, Lurking since 2015 (new)

J. Daniel Layfield (jdaniellayfield) | 94 comments Mod
I spent about ten years (off and on) writing my first novel, which I did not publish. Then about five years on the second (also not published), and around two years on the third, which I did decide to self-publish.

How about the rest of you? How long did it take you to put "THE END" on that first book? And did you publish it?


message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) 6 weeks to complete the rough draft, 6 years to get it to the final state that was published.


message 3: by Chikamso (new)

Chikamso Efobi (cheexy) | 92 comments It took me 8 years of procrastination and about 6 months of actual writing to get to "The End" of my first draft. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to self-publish.


message 4: by Angel (new)

Angel | 216 comments Over 20 years to write my first book, granted I started at the age of 13. It's published now.


message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Timberlake (rebeccatimberlake) | 13 comments About a year of writing and editing with the idea in mind of it becoming a novel. Originally it was a short story I wrote over the course of a semester while I was supposed to be taking notes in an English class on Modernity in college. If we count that time, it took one year, two months.


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 268 comments Both novels took about 7 months steady effort to get a first draft - which is what I regard as writing "The End" - but overall 7 and 6 years respectively to publish. Now starting #3, and hoping to shorten the time :)


message 7: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) After 20+ years of starting and never finishing anything, I sat down to write a novel about vampires in New Orleans in late 2004. By August of 2005 I had most of a first draft and a deep sense of guilt, so I shelved it until "things were once again back to normal in New Orleans."
Sadly, things are still not back to normal, but in 2011, after a couple of post-Katrina trip to the city and encouragement from the locals I spoke to, I completely rewrote and finally published in 2012.


message 8: by Christina (last edited Feb 02, 2016 04:58PM) (new)

Christina Maharaj | 6 comments About 8-10 months from start to publish. Probably going to take a similar amount of time for book 2.


message 9: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments 1 year to complete first draft.
3 months to refine, edit, format and publish.


message 10: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I only started writing two years ago, before that I hadn't wrote a word since high school.


message 11: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited Feb 02, 2016 05:13PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4335 comments Mod
It's hard to say, to be honest. For one thing, I often have many works going at the same time and I will often put one aside and work on another when the mood hits me. Sometimes I put something aside for months before I get back to it. I'm going to guess that from the time I type the first word until the day I hit "publish" and ignoring all the down time, short stories take about a week or two, novellas about a month or two. I've only published one novel and I'm guessing it took about three months (it's about as short as a book can be and still be called a novel).

But, another way to look at it is, since everything I do is part of a much bigger work, I will never be finished.


message 12: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I guess I never did answer the question...my epic fantasy, that's 3 times longer than what I normally write, took me about 6 months to write.
But it's getting a little quicker every time. I guess practice really does tell.


message 13: by Paul (last edited Feb 02, 2016 06:03PM) (new)

Paul Erwin | 1 comments My first two attempts can only be measured in half-lives... because I finished only half of each. Third time's the charm, and I finished it over an eighteen month period. Strange that even though it's published, it doesn't really feel "finished."


message 14: by Steve (new)

Steve Harrison (stormingtime) | 52 comments About 25 years for my first novel, although I rewrote it every four or five years until I found a publisher. The writing of the original draft was fairly quick, but the book was very different - and much better - at the end of all that revision.

I'm a year into my second and on track to finish in the next month, so I'm speeding up!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

My novella took me about a month but it was for a college course so I had a deadline I had to meet. The novel I'm writing now is only on chapter 3 and I've been working on it for 3 months. Life keeps getting in the way of my writing time or is probably have at least twice as much written by now.


message 16: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Briar (trbriar) | 58 comments My first book was actually a screenplay that I wrote for a scriptwriting class using characters I'd come up with years before, and took me a couple months. My teacher loved it but I never did anything with it.
Then a few years after that I decided to rewrite the script as a novel but changed the setting to Victorian England for some reason, and that took me another few months.
Then I didn't dwell much on it for a few more years until I decided to redo the story entirely with the same characters and world building, except this time in modern-day England, which took less than a month.
Then after 2 years of hemming and hawing I decided to edit and self-publish it as my first novel. So you could either say the novel only took me a few months, or you can say it took 10-15 years.


message 17: by Dionne (new)

Dionne | 25 comments Heh, it took me a few years before I could finish my first ever book. And when it was done I kept procrastinating whether I should take the plunge and publish it. Eventually, I did. But that was the longest I'd ever did something like that. Mainly procrastination about whether I should or not. Finally did it in the end though. And now I'm working on another.


message 18: by Quoleena (new)

Quoleena Sbrocca (qjsbrocca) I started my first book summer of 2014. It took me 6 months, but that's only because I was an obsessed, anal freak about it.


message 19: by Owen (last edited Feb 02, 2016 07:13PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments About 24 years. I don't exactly recall when I first started working on it. Yes, we did publish it.


message 20: by C. (new)

C. Brown | 62 comments My first novel was a semifinalist screenplay in the Final Draft, Big Break Contest. March of this year will be 3 years, start-edit-edit-edit... summer 2016 release


message 21: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 266 comments my first took 20 years and 2 major revisions. the first version was published 11 years ago. it did well and had positive reviews but I wasn't feeling it. I rewote and expanded it to as it is now according to my vision and I'm fine with it but the audience don't care for it. I'm no longer worried about making it appealing for public consumption as long as it makes sense to me. maybe someone out there will get the complex message I'm trying to get across. when I try to explain it in conversation (rarely it comes up but sometimes does ) I always get met with a blank stare and uh OK and onto something completely different.
I always wrote super complex stories. there's a message in all of them and writing it as I do is my best way to convey these ideas...


message 22: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 266 comments it's taken me a long time to 'get it right' and stop tripping over if folks will like it / understand it. not everyone will and I'm finally at peace with that. majority of my books are old and dated by the time I publish them. I'm not planning to go out of my way to update them however lolz.


message 23: by Lana (new)

Lana Kortchik Took 18 months to write and another year for revisions and finding a publisher. So glad to have it out there!


message 24: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Esplin | 81 comments I moved to America on the 5th of January 2015. I spoke English for 6 months on end, which was a personal record. I'm Afrikaans. Went to an Afrikaans school etc. I started to write Give it Back in July.

First draft took me 4 months. I've been editing for 3 months, and my book will be published end of March, beginning April 2016.


message 25: by S.J. (new)

S.J. Higgins | 173 comments It took me 9 months to write and another 9 to edit after which I published.


message 26: by Christi (new)

Christi Smit (ChristiSmit) | 45 comments 1 Year to write and busy with editing and marketing things. The way I write leaves the editor with very little work except maybe some developmental issues and minor grammatical issues here and there.

I will take about 1 month to revise and go through editors notes and then it is publishing time!


message 27: by Narayan (new)

Narayan Liu (narayanliu) | 28 comments I started short story that just grew longer and longer until I decided that I wanted to turn it into a novel. It's been four years and I'm still writing that novel. Mainly because the story grew such that I realised I couldn't fit it all into one book. So I put it aside for about two years while I wrote two novellas to introduce a few aspects of the world I'm building. That first novella took me a year to write, three months to edit, and was my very first publication.

My first serious novel however, I wrote when I was 15. It took me around seven months to write but I never published it. My writing style hadn't fully developed and every time I looked back at it, I just wasn't happy. So I abandoned it.


message 28: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Strange (jsstrange) | 13 comments Well, my debut novel I started writing at 17. I'm twenty-one now and only just about to publish it. That's because I wrote the first, changed the plot and what the characters were, then wrote it again. Started writing the second and third instalments, scrapped them all and wrote the first again!

It takes awhile I suppose!


message 29: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd (philipdodd) | 32 comments My first book began as a short tale in 1986 and ended as a long novel in 2012, so it took me twenty six years to write. I self published it in 2013.


message 30: by S. (new)

S. Pitt | 16 comments My first book took fifteen years as much of it was written during lunch hours, paragraph by paragraph. Then I left it for a while and edited hard before self-publishing. Since then it's taken about a year to write each book but I still try to leave at least six months before going back to edit. Otherwise I find it hard to be detached enough to be objective about what to cut/rewrite. Patience is the key I guess.


message 31: by Ceanmohrlass (new)

Ceanmohrlass Ceanmohrlass | 69 comments The first one took almost 3 years, then subsequent ones took about a year or more, until the nanowrimo book, that took the 30 days to draft then two months more to rework and publish. Depends on how long I have to shut myself off from the world :)


message 32: by Tony (new)

Tony Skye (tonycskye) | 90 comments 3 1/2 months to write rough draft (by hand), four months to type it up and make changes (wordcount: 200K +). Editing has been an ongoing process, as I am steadily improving with the nuances of grammar rules(e.g. 'blonde' versus 'blond', and things of this nature).

The second book took four weeks to write (100k +), two more to refine and edit (gotta love the word search feature).

This third one I am on, I have been at it for three days and am 10k words in. Time dedicated really changes the words per day I get out. As for story, it always seems to write itself.


message 33: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor I started a book about 20 years ago and just couldn't get past a certain point. Picked it up last year and it was the third or fourth book I released.

One interesting angle that came into play after the delay was the generational issue. It was a story about two characters antagonizing each other and there was an age difference. When I started, the younger character was my age at the time, but I found it funny that I happened to finish the book when I was the age of the older character, so it gave me the angle that a piece of their conflict came from that generational difference.


M. Ray Holloway Jr.   (mrayhollowayjr) | 180 comments I just finished my first novel, to be published in the next few weeks. I got the idea over a year ago and began working on it only in my mind. I started the actual write in November, and it took me about five weeks to write it. I spent the next six weeks doing self edits, and have now turned it over to an outside editor for their edit. Roughly speaking, it has taken me about three months and a week.


message 35: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments I had maybe a dozen books started, which had been accumulating over 20+ years when I decided to piss or get off the pot, as they say--pardon my French, just being blunt.

It took me 8 months to finish it, using pretty much 100% of my free time: weekends, holidays, evenings.

It took me well over a year to do the first re-write and editing.

And it's been in editing/re-writing every since (on and off). Frankly, it would need a complete overhaul to be publishable. The story's solid, but the actual words are too immature.

The first one I published took longer to write (it was written off and on for maybe 3 years?), less time to edit.


message 36: by Safa (new)

Safa Shaqsy (safashaqsy) | 54 comments I started outlining my plot on September and started writing on October. Now I have 5 more chapters then I'll start self edit.


message 37: by David (last edited Feb 04, 2016 07:12AM) (new)

David Butterworth | 10 comments I completed my first book in about a year. That was because of my job commitments and priorities and being unsure of my talents as a writer. My current project has taken a few months and has been semi-shelved. The narration needs more work and the book to be finished. Now I'm slowly compiling a cache of short stories which I hope to have as an anthology. I'm letting the ideas evolve in my head and the rest develops by itself. I tend to edit as I go, but still find room for improvement once a work is finished.


message 38: by Zoltán (new)

Zoltán (witchhunter) | 267 comments Been writing short stories for Drawer Nonpublishing Ltd for many years. Once I decided to write a public book, it took me about eight months. I mostly wrote it while traveling to/from work and that made it rather hectic. Draft cleanup, cover making took considerable amount of time as well.


message 39: by Geraldine (new)

Geraldine Powell | 9 comments If you consider the two I finally discarded and the time in between maybe 40 years before I had one I felt was worth publishing. That one took a little over three years.


message 40: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Wood | 4 comments I spent 5 years researching and writing my book about the state of the American education system from a teacher's perspective ("Taking Back Our Classrooms"). I then spent about another year working to format the book into Createspace requirements and consulting with Createspace about a cover design. The time spent was well spent and felt like an achievement when I finished.


message 41: by Julie (new)

Julie Round | 41 comments Two and a half years for the first one, from conception to publication, two years for the next two and one and a half years for the last two. I did use a professional editor for the first three books but when I realised I usually made the same mistakes I took on the job myself with the help of beta readers.
My printer always sends a proof for me to check before publication and, hopefully, I am getting better at spotting errors.
Like many others I have an unfinished work in the cupboard which will not see the light of day!


message 42: by Renee (new)

Renee Marski | 26 comments I started my first novel in high school. I set it down and didnt touch it for five years. Took me about 6 months to rewrite it and publish it. Ive done two cover changes and am going to do a third this year. Sometimes i feel like you are never truly done with a book.

My second took about three months. Im working on a third and that should be done shortly. Number four is another from high school and that one will be done in a couple months. Already thinking about #5.


message 43: by Elle (new)

Elle Rochelle | 7 comments Paul wrote: "My first two attempts can only be measured in half-lives... because I finished only half of each. Third time's the charm, and I finished it over an eighteen month period. Strange that even though i..."

I don't think they ever feel finished.


message 44: by Elle (new)

Elle Rochelle | 7 comments My first novel was for my friends only. I never intended to publish. I think it took a couple of months. My first published novel I believe the first draft was done in three months but I did not feel it was in a place to publish for about another nine more. My second novel about the same to the rough draft but then I added a co-author and the book morphed into something a little different. That one took about two years from start to publish. I have a bunch in the works but one in particular I have a feeling is going to take some time to write. I'm guessing it may be a year before I have the rough draft completed.


message 45: by Geraldine (new)

Geraldine Powell | 9 comments I approach novels a bit differently than a lot of the comments here indicate. Once It is finished and edited to the best of my ability, I never want to look at it again. It's done. It's out there. It's time to move on.


message 46: by Ty (new)

Ty (tyunglebo) | 50 comments I had the "flash" of some basics for the novel, but started writing in earnest about 6 months later...and continued to work on the first draft of it for just over 18 months or so. Just under three years later, I self-published it...last June.


message 47: by Maymunah (new)

Maymunah Azad | 60 comments I first wrote the basis of my book when I was 11, finished it when I was 12, went through it when I was 13 and got it published when I was 14. (Last year!)


M. Ray Holloway Jr.   (mrayhollowayjr) | 180 comments Years ago, I learned to carry a notebook around to write down ideas for stories. When one comes to me, I immediately put it down before I forget it. My biggest problem is that I have WAY more ideas than I have time to write them. However, That is where my stories start, and I refer to that notebook whenever I have time and think about where I would go with the story and add to my notes.

So, when do you say you started writing - when the idea came to you or when you actually put the proverbially pen to the paper?


message 49: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Norfield (ajnorfield) | 37 comments Two years on writing the first draft for book I in the series, then year of reshaping and after an initial selfpublish now doing official editing. so 4 years perhaps?

I'm little over a year into book II first draft now. Hope to have that finished soon(ish) after book I is officially edited. Once first draft is done, the whole sha'bang will start all over again. It will take me at least 10 years to get my entire 5 book story arc written :)


message 50: by Joshua (new)

Joshua T. Bahnsen (jtbahnsen) | 2 comments My first published book only took me a week to write. Helps that it's short. Then it took a month or so to get it edited and then published.

As for the first book I started writing, it's been... a long time. I still haven't finished even a rough draft. Though I have completely rewritten what I did write a couple of times now. Not sure if it'll ever get done, it's pretty long, but perhaps I'll get back to it. :)


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