Friday, February 15, 2008

How long does it take to write a book? How long to revise?

How long did it take you to write that book? If I had a quarter for everyone someone asked me that, I would have at least two dollars! Or, maybe even more….

And you know what the answer is? 6 weeks. I started writing Handcuffs around February 2006. I was revising a complete manuscript less than two months later. Now admittedly I did revisions with both my agent and editor, but still that was pretty fast. (ooh and only almost three years later that book will be on shelves).

Sometimes my fellow YaYa’s depress me. They write so fast. Their ideas are so cool. They are so enthusiastic. And here I'm just meandering along.

And I’ve been slogging along on book #2 for over a year. Yeah, same book 13 months so far. Granted during that year, I had my wisdom teeth out, switched jobs, did revisions and copyedits on Handcuffs, wrote content for the website, took care of two children (off and on), and um more interesting stuff. Granted we all have differing amounts of that precious resource, time.

So the question still stands. How long does it take you to write a novel (with or without revising it). Tell us your stories and your time management strategies, such as they are!


hannah said...

If it's the only thing I'm working on--about a week or two per draft. Right now, I'm working at three things, and I'm not rushing. 1st draft of one thing, and 2nd of two more. They should all be finished within the next two months or so, probably.

I know I'm one of the depressingly quick people...but, really, it feels like forEVER.

Haphazard said...

I've written two novels, both NaNos, and one took 28 days and one only took 20. The one that took 20, though, I wrote 9,000 words in one day and it wasn't a pretty sight...

I've attempted many other novels, but so far as I can figure, the only way I can finish something is if I get the whole idea down in less than a month, because other wise I'd get sick of it.

This is probably not such a good thing because I've gotten sick of many, many novels...

Aside from the amount of time, I'm sure a lot of people would find that my methods are questionable because usually I stop at pretty precisely a thousand words every time I sit down to write, with at most an excess of 100. I've found that I can't rely on inspirational bursts at all and that my attention span is perfect for about a thousand words. Most of the writers I know write on whim, and are generally productive that way, but I can't work like that.

Speaking of which, I have another thousand words to write today to make today's quotient. I'll catch you all later.

SuzanneYoung said...

For me it depends. My first book, 85k and terrible lol, took me 3 months. After that, I hit GINGER SNAPS! Ten days for draft. Two weeks for revision.

I find that some book just hit me and I write them frantically, one to two weeks. Where other's go very slowly. I have two that I just can't seem to write. Where in between them, I've written four books. My latest one, DELINQUENTS took 5 days to write. 4 days to revise. And now it's off!

So, depending on how interested I am the story, I can write fast, or never finish. lol.

althrasher said...

I've spent the last four years of my life completely consumed by Kelvdon. So I'd say you're not doing too badly...;)

Wither is going much quicker, though. My goal is to be through the first draft by March 10th.

althrasher said...

To be fair to myself, though, I do take about four million classes and practice two hours a day. It's not quite as awful as it looks--sometimes I'd go weeks without writing.

Andrew Carmichael said...

Fastest was 13 days and then I guess another few for revising and whatnot. That was for Sugar Hype.

Usually, and generally, I take about a month, maybe two for something long, from start to finish. Lately, though, I haven't finished anything, so...

Sage said...

Depends. My first non-fanfic took 15 months(!). Before I finished it, I participated in NaNo, and wrote another in 28 days.

My favorite--the one I'm querying--took me twenty days to write. BUT, that doesn't include the time I started it and let it sit for months because I wasn't ready to write it. Same with my newest NaNo novel. I started in the summer, got a chapter and a half in, and got overwhelmed, so it sat until November again. In between those (sorta), I wrote a sequel to the former, and that took me several months.

Editing/revising seems to take me forever, but looking at my last three, I only really edited each for two or three months before my first (non-friend) betas. Of course, depending on the feedback, much more revising may be needed ;)

~grace~ said...

Meandering? If you're meandering, I'm...meandering on crutches. Wait, I am. I'll get back to you if I find a better analogy.

The current WIP began as an Idea...five years ago. And I started writing it immediately. It's gone through a lot of permutations, a couple of MCs, and I've recently restarted it because I've finally figured out what I want to say.

I hope to have this draft done by the time I graduate in May, and I think it will be a close-to-finaldraft.

I also once finished a first draft in 3 days. It was more novella than novel, and I was 14 and less of a perfectionist, but hey. Beginning, middle, and end.

The last WIP I finished was when I was 15, and I'd say it took about 3.5 years. It's in a drawer somewhere.

Jordan said...

I am slow and not prolific in the slightest.

I don't really think in terms of "drafts" because I just don't work that matter what I do I just can't slog through and write the thing from beginning to end. I bounce around, revising, scrapping scenes and adding new ones, rewriting the beginning when something happens in the middle...and whatnot.

I don't know if it's the best method in the world since I haven't exactly finished anything yet. Not completely. I had a complete version of Blanco Brothers at one point but I would not have shown it to anyone.

I'm a perfectionist, that's the problem.

So, uh....years? Yea I'm working on it.

R.J. Anderson said...

How long to write a book: 6-8 months, working at least 2-3 hours a day and at least 5 days a week. However, I revise heavily as I go, so even if I write at a snail's pace, by the time I'm done I'm usually DONE.

Apparently Dean Koontz uses the same method, which I found very consoling. It's nice to know that a successful professional author can write as slowly as I do.

As for revisions, I'm currently doing my first contracted revision and it's taken me just over two months -- and that's working 2-4 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophie W. said...

A matter of months, straight writing. Usually something around 3 to 4 for a rough draft and as long as it takes to finish the final draft. I don't rush editing.

donut said...

I'm delurking because I have to know -- how THE HELL do you write a whole novel, first draft and polished revisions, in 9 days? To me, that's like saying you ran a marathon in under a minute... it just sounds beyond the realm of human capability!

I know I'm on the slow side, given it took me three *years* to write a novel I felt was adequate, and I'm *still* revising a year later in response to agent input.

But seriously, what's the process like for such an incredibly feat? Do you outline first? How long are your novels? What happens if you discover a plot hole or inconsistency or something? Or... does that kind of thing never happen to you wunderkinds?

SuzanneYoung said...

haha. For me, I write ALL DAY in those fast drafts. And it's only with certain stories. If it's in my head, I will write when I wake up, at work, in my car at a red light. Non-stop. My first drafts are about 35k. My finals are about 50.

But my books are dialogue heavy. So that might help with the pacing which keeps me from getting bored with the story. I work out plot holes in the revision.

AND....I might be a little bit hyperactive. lol.

Catherine said...

28 days, 20 days...*ahem* TEN DAYS!?

I hate you all. *grin*

Okay, takes me around three months to get a first draft down - provided I don't give up.

The fastest took 1 month to write, and then two months of revision.

Currently, I'm 93 k into a book that I began December last year. I'm planning on only working on this book this year - taking an entire year to make it the best book I possibly can. We'll see how that works for me.

courtney said...

Book 1: approx 9 months
Book 2: approx 7 months
Book 3: approx 6 months
Book 4: approx 3 months
Book 5 (current): writing began in earnest in December. I'll let you know when it's done. ;)

Time management strategies?! What are those? I'm supposed to be writing right now but here I am, posting a comment...

Like RJ Anderson, I'm a rolling reviser so when the book's done, it's either DONE or very close to it.

I wish I wrote as fast as some people here. You know who you are. :)

Sage said...

I revised as I went in my first novel. That's part of the reason it took so long. It made it that much harder to take critiques of it when I was done, I found, and even now, I know it needs major work still. At some point, I stopped revising until I had finished, and then, miraculously, I finished the "first" draft.

Now I don't revise as I go, with a few exceptions. If there's a scene I need to add to an earlier part and I know it will bug me if I don't do it right away, I will go ahead and add it. If I am inspired for a revision to something I've written already (an added piece of dialogue I don't want to forget, for example), I'll go ahead and add it. But for the most part, I try to go through and finish before editing. This may lead to a 20-day first draft or a 8-month first draft, so it doesn't necessarily mean I go super-speedy this way.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Well, before I got my first contract, I was very leisurely about how I wrote my drafts. But once I got that contract and had a deadline, I wanted to make sure I got it done in plenty of time! I have two toddlers so writing all day long isn't an option for me. I usually dedicate about 5 hours one day a week to writing and an hour here and there IF there's time to squeeze it in around my art portrait work.

With those sorts of constraints, it took me about 4 months with editorial revisions to do LAMENT, and I started STILL WOLF WATCHING while I was doing the revisions on it. STILL WOLF looks like it's probably going to take a bit longer, because it's the first book I've written at the same time as another one (I started the sequel for LAMENT in February). But I would say 4-5 months from absolute conception of idea to end isn't a bad estimate.

But I'm a firm believer in the idea that some stories take longer to tell -- especially emotionally charged ones.

Trish Doller said...

Unbecoming took 10 months from beginning to the point where I felt it was ready to start looking for representation.

I've written more of Virtually Carrie in a shorter amount of time, but I also sometimes feel I'm going slower because everything about it is completely different from Unbecoming.

Donna said...

The first novel took me about 8 months to complete but half of that time I was trying to find my footing in writing and doinga bit of experimenting. So from the time I *really* starting writing it was about 4 months. I haven't started editing that one yet.

The second one was for this past NaNo and it's about 90% complete but my eyes might bleed if I keep working on it so I'm going to give it a couple weeks' space before I pick it up again.

I envy the people that can crank them out in a matter of a week but I think my arm would fall off if I did that.