I’m seeing a lot of discussion around the internet these days about how long it takes to write a book. And whether one book a year is too much to expect. And if we’re sacrificing quality, and all of that stuff.
It’s sort of an odd subject for me, because I write fast. My current WIP is taking me longer to write than any other book save the very first one I ever wrote (one day I’m going to find that thing–it survived in hard copy somewhere, I think the garage–and post a little of it somewhere so we can all bask in the suckitude. Really. Just awful.) Anyway, that one ended up clocking in at about 100,000 words by MS count. A lot of it was padding.
It took me roughly four months to write, I believe.
The current WIP is at 13 weeks. 97k words. And I am literally writing the last few pages as we speak. Well, technically, literally, I’m writing this blog entry as we speak, but you know what I mean. I’m writing the last scene of the WIP, I’m just taking a break. But the book is effectively done, at least the first draft. All mysteries have been solved, everyone’s died who’s going to die and everyone’s lived who’s going to live, and I have two little loose ends to clear up, one in the form of a casual pick-up who must be dealt with somehow and the other I’m not revealing.
And that is the second-longest it’s ever taken me to write a book.
Even then, really, I guess I need to take a few weeks out of those 13. Because at least two full weeks were taken up with edits. Then there was the week I lost to the stomach flu. And various other odds-and-ends: a night I went to bed early, or there was a movie we wanted to watch, or whatever. So I guess in terms of actual writing time I think 9 or 10 weeks is probably a fair count.
The thing is, I do write rather fast. And I do set high goals for myself and I do force myself to meet those goals, as a rule. I do that in part because I believe the book loses freshness and urgency if I dawdle too much. But I also do that in part so I can afford to take the occasional night off, or so if I lose a week due to a stomach flu it’s not the end of the world.
And then there’s editing. This project will be fairly edit-heavy, I think, but even then I’ll probably devote two or three solid weeks to it. That’s about what edits usually take for me, re-reading, re-reading, re-reading again, making notes, playing with sentences, moving scenes around, filling out or thinning subplots and adding in stuff I decided would be cool at the end and so need to go back and foreshadow.
So working at my laziest pace, a novel (from start to complete edited ms) takes me, say, four to five months.
The thing is, I’ve always thought that was pretty standard. Or even that I’m rather slow at times. But I guess not.
What do you think? Or are you tired of this subject?