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Writer's Corner > How long to write your first novel

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message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott Zavoda (ScottZavoda) | 16 comments The first draft went smooth. 4 months to write a 190k word novel. But now things are going at a snail's pace. I'm spending nearly 3-5 days per chapter on the re-write. Chapter lengths are about 1500 - 3000 words. At this rate Im looking at almost 18 months to finish. What do you all think?

message 2: by Amanda (new)

Amanda M. Lyons (amandamlyons) It's not about the time it takes to do it, it's about how effective the work going into it is. I took 15 years to get my first novel ready and out because I let self-doubt get in the way. If the work you're getting done is creating solid work, you're doing it right. Trust yourself and follow the path through to the end.

message 3: by Scott (new)

Scott Zavoda (ScottZavoda) | 16 comments Thanks, Amanda. I guess the only times I have self doubt are when others make it sound so easy and seem to put out 2 books a year on Amazon, but maybe its more talk than walk. Writing seems to be the only thing Im a perfectionist about. Isn't that odd?

message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda M. Lyons (amandamlyons) Scott wrote: "Thanks, Amanda. I guess the only times I have self doubt are when others make it sound so easy and seem to put out 2 books a year on Amazon, but maybe its more talk than walk. Writing seems to be t..."

Not odd at all. Our writing is so very important to us we want to do it right. The pace is set by you and no one else, trust in your ability and follow your own pace.

message 5: by Dwayne (new)

Dwayne Fry | 41 comments Scott wrote: "At this rate Im (sic) looking at almost 18 months to finish. What do you all think?"

Well, would you rather spend 18 months on a quality piece or 6 months on a piece of crap? Length of time shouldn't matter, the quality of the work matters. Take whatever time you need to get it done right.

Scott wrote: "I have self doubt are when others make it sound so easy..."

I suppose for some it is easy. Don't let that discourage you. Sometimes the stuff that is most rewarding is the stuff that was the most difficult to do.

message 6: by Scott (new)

Scott Zavoda (ScottZavoda) | 16 comments Thanks for the encouragement! We need that often, I think. Am enjoying the process but still look forward to getting it done. It will be a proud moment.

message 7: by Emma (new)

Emma Iadanza (emmaiadanza) My first novel (really a novella) took about a year and a half... But I was younger and it's really short...

message 8: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne Shriver (roxannexshriver) My first novel took about 10 months to write. It was just under 100 pages, and quite frankly sucked. XD

message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weldon (sarahrweldon-author) | 6045 comments Like the others say, it's not how long it takes that matters. My first novel took me just 5 months to write, my fourth has so far taken me over a year, and I am only half-way through. I put it to one side to edit my third novel in February, and what with school holidays and other interruptions including several computer malfunctions I am way behind schedule.

What is important is the editing, and after you have done your best editing give it to an expert to polish it till it shines. It will pay dividends later!

message 10: by Roger (new)

Roger Jackson Sarah wrote: "...What is important is the editing, and after you have done your best editing give it to an expert to polish it till it shines. It will pay dividends later!"

I agree. When I wrote my first novel, I paid no attention to the word count. I just wrote until I was finished. It came out to be 290,000 words and it took about 7 months. I spent over a year editing it down to 212,000 words, then split it into two books and edited until I was happy with both of them.

In the meantime, I wrote a different novel in about 6 months and took another 6 months to edit it. That one came out before the first one. I used what I had learned on the first novel to do a better job on the second one.

Now I'm trying to work on my fourth novel, which is the third part of the series I started four years ago. I'm struggling with it because of time. My day job is taking a lot of that, my family most of the rest. It's difficult, but I sit down and write whenever I have the opportunity. At this rate, it may take 2 years to finish this one.

message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weldon (sarahrweldon-author) | 6045 comments Roger wrote: "Sarah wrote: "...What is important is the editing, and after you have done your best editing give it to an expert to polish it till it shines. It will pay dividends later!"

I agree. When I wrote ..."

It's hard finding time to write, juggle family obligations and work. I only have family obligations to worry about and the housework, which seems to take longer every day! By the time I finish the dishes, prepare lunch, do the washing, and the cleaning up it's lunch time!

I try to set aside a couple of hours a day to write but it doesn't always work out. All it takes is someone to turn up unannounced and all my best laid plans go out the window!

message 12: by Scott (new)

Scott Zavoda (ScottZavoda) | 16 comments I can agree with all the above comments. I find my most creative writing is in the morning before the day really starts. I guess It makes no sense to get worked up over deadlines or schedules when I have no experience to draw on. Family always takes up most of the day if I don't get the writing done first. In my house, the unexpecteds are always the norm.

message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weldon (sarahrweldon-author) | 6045 comments Today is no exception my daughter is on her way over so there goes today's writing time!

Though if she gets the job she is after I won't see as much of her. Lol - at least I'll get some work done!

message 14: by Greg (new)

Greg Curtis | 7 comments Hi,

I'm guessing my first book that I published took twelve years to write. But there were so many others during that time that I never completed and one day might. So technically they could take even longer. The quickest book to write took a month - the muse was really burning through me.

Cheers, Greg.

message 15: by Star (last edited Dec 25, 2014 03:23PM) (new)

Star  | 3 comments I would say it varies depending on how active I am writing-wise, of course. I have this tendency to write nothing at all for long stents (in regard to my writing projects) and then 'kill myself' during what are these high-energy, mad, intense writing streaks.

Up until recently, I had two novels (one was initially to be a novella but it 'grew up') going...The first one I started 4 years ago and it is still only half-completed--if that. The story beckons to me to return to its telling and I shall do so soon. At present, I am starting to do some editing with regards to this particular tale.

The second novel (the ex-novella), I started two-and-a-half years ago. But as of this past June, I went to regular work on the book and finished it in late November. But mind you, I actually finished this novel over a seven week period stretched out over those five months.

Nevertheless, I still managed to exhaust myself because during such heightened stents of writing. I would sometimes be awake for up to 30 hours straight prior to collapsing into sleep for 10-12 hours.

This would also be my modus operandi when I would do considerable edits. Those would also have me awake and at hard work for hours at a time. I detest editing and it is both a blessing and a curse that I am so pedantic about it. Even the majority of posts which I write here at, "Goodreads" I tend to edit--a lot.

I am still doing some polishings as to the finished novel while, at the same time, perusing--and noting down--literary agents to submit samples of my work to in the near future.

As for my other (unfinished) novel, I will not exhaust myself over its writing toward completion. I intend to work on that book in a routine manner until I finish it--but the pace will be less frantic and easier on my overall self. It is to be part of a two-book series, or even a trilogy; I will not know which it is until I continue with the writing and see where my storytelling leads me.

The novel that is finished, had me practicing what I call 'soul-letting' on all levels; it bled me, well and truly. That book was hell to write but it was one which needed to be written. It even had to be. I think it to be a downright beautiful piece of work; I can only hope that others will think the same.


Blessings to all of you and to the muses who whisper to your souls.

message 16: by F.J. (new)

F.J. Hansen (fjhansen) | 14 comments I spent two years writing my first true novel, then I spent another three years editing. My second novel took two years. My third took five.

message 17: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd (philipdodd) | 35 comments I began writing what became my book, Angel War, in 1986, when I was thirty four. I did not complete the final version of my story until September, 2012, when I was sixty. So it took me twenty six years to write my book. It is long, but it could have been much longer. Angel War was published in April, 2013. I am glad it is out there in the world, and not just a manuscript in my room.

Angel War by Philip Dodd

message 18: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (sherrithewriter) It really depends. It took me about a year to write my first novel, and then another year to do rewrites, revisions, proofreads, etc. before I was ready to query it. That was about 10-11 years ago. Since then, I usually write faster - I can typically do maybe 2 books a year, but in 2015 I am slowing down the pace because I'm working on a scifi trilogy and want to give it more focus and attention. So I have started writing faster, but now I'm actually trying to slow down the pace again.

message 19: by Scott (new)

Scott Zavoda (ScottZavoda) | 16 comments The holidays have slowed things down considerably this year. I'm seeing results all over the board from all who've posted. For those that have managed to write multiple novels in less than a year I'm curious what hours you kept and what it takes to do that.

There is nothing wrong of course with spending years on a novel and enjoying its progress but personally I find myself wanting to see new projects begun more often with my own writing and one year is enough to spend wading in the same characters and story.

Im on my re-write stage now and hope to be done by mid 2015 with this novel. It follows three separate characters fairly deeply and I have found more difficulties with this rather than telling it from one viewpoint. Its trickier to string time together time related events and sufficiently cause surprises without giving things away.

message 20: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 601 comments How long it takes to write, rewrite, and get a work into shape will vary by how much time you have to spend on the writing versus life in general.

My first two books took me two weeks and three weeks to pound out the rough, then about twice as long going through to make marked up corrections.

I have a third book, rough done, the person who did edits for me previously no longer does due to health issues, and I'm waiting to hear back from two new people. I've had the cover art for a year and a half now.

Since my daughter was born, I write when I can (not often) so a project that should take weeks takes much longer.

Take the time you need in order to be satisfied with your work.

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