How Long Does It Take To Write A Book

One of the nice visitors to Sling Words and a frequent commenter is Liana Brooks aka Just Me. She posed a question on her own excellent blog the other day. "How long does it take for the average published author to write and edit a book?"

My answer? It all depends. I'm not equivocating. It really does depend on various factors. Here's a list of some of these factors. Feel free to add your own factors to the list.

Your Process

How much time are you devoting to the writing? Be honest. Is it a full-time effort you approach with as much dedication as going to 9 - 5 job, Monday through Friday? Or is it something you do in the evening, after the kitchen is cleaned and the kids are tucked in bed? Do you realistically only put in one or two hours a week or maybe half a day Saturday?

It makes a difference because, despite notes and outlines, most full-time writers exist in a weird state of consciousness with the story ever-present in our heads. We don't have to consult our notes to discover the color of a character's eyes or the reason the villain hates the hero because we hold the length and breadth of the story in our brain, and that makes 99% of all the story information readily accessible.

Uh, Where Was I

When you don't work on something every day, it takes you longer to immerse yourself in the fictional world with its fictional people that you've created. If you only work on the manuscript once a week, then I guarantee you it takes you longer to get into the story than it does someone who works every day - even if that's only an hour every day. You'll spend a lot more time wondering, "now where was I."

None of us live in a vacuum. When you're writing without a contract, your writing time is dictated by the other demands of your life. Do you have a job outside the home? Are you a full-time, stay-at-home mom responsible for every fraking thing? Are you healthy? Are you taking care of aging parents? Are you on the volunteer hit list for school, church, and charities?

Simmer and Stew

Another factor to consider is how much time you, personally, need to assimilate and internalize that which we've written? How much time do you need away from the story in order to go back to it and see it objectively?

What seems to be a constant is that if you're not under contract, a project can stretch to infinity. And beyond. However, if you have a contract that specifies the final manuscript must be delivered by a specific date, even the slowest of us manage to get it in on time.

This is such a fascinating subject and one that a lot of writers, published and unpublished, wonder about. We want to know if we're doing it right - as if there were any such thing.

I posed the question to a bunch of writers who have credibility in this area: the members of the Published Authors Special Interest Chapter. Many of the PASIC members took the time to respond. I'll be posting these comments in a series of posts starting Monday. Be sure and Bookmark Sling Words so you won't miss any.

Takeaway Truth

I'm a firm believer in modeling successful people. See how someone in your career is achieving what you want to achieve and see if their method works for you.


  1. Oh! I do adore you so!

    I'm excited to see what everyone has to say. :o)

  2. Wonderful post. I can't wait to read more!

  3. Kwana, this week at Sling Words is awesome! Tell all your writing friends.