Any new writer wonders the same question: How long does it take to write a book? The definitive answer is: It depends. Let me explain…
According to a panelist survey of famous authors, when asked how long it took for them to produce their novels, the answers ranged from between four years to a decade. In other words, “Writing a novel takes as long as you want or need it to take.”
Here at Self-Publishing School, we beg to differ. Our students routinely crank out bestsellers in just 90 days, with the first-draft writing process taking as little as 30 days. (No, we’re not making that up!) The grind begins with the mindmapping and outlining process, which sets authors up for a successful writing phase before building launch teams and hitting publish on their masterpieces.
While the temptation can be to spend years, even decades, honing and polishing your book, a rough draft sitting on your hard drive isn’t working for you. It’s not building your author name, furthering your cause, or growing your audience. Moreover, it’s not earning you a single cent. Remember this when it comes to writing your first book: done is better than perfect.
How long does it take to write a book?
We have amazing news: Writing YOUR book can take far less time than you think. You just need to know the tricks to get moving and stay moving.
The faster you get your book finished, the sooner you can realize your goals. And once the publication ball starts rolling, the positive energy will continue.
Your readership will grow with each book, so that with each new publication, you’re building your fan base. If a fan finds and loves your fourth book, they’ll go back and read books one through three, earning you even more accolades and more financial gain.
The bottom line is this: You need to prioritize getting your first draft finished as quickly as your life, time, and circumstances allow. It may not be easy, but it’s not impossible.
Read on for tips to supercharge your own writing process so you’ll hit “publish” before you know it.
1. Choose a Deadline
“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth
It’s no secret that knowing when to stop writing can be the hardest part of actually writing. You can write forever, and never have a clear end in sight. Part of becoming a published author is knowing when to wrap it up.
Setting a final deadline means that you’ll have a finish line in mind, and that can put the pressure on to keep the forward momentum going and finish what you started.
Here’s what to do: Set a deadline, right now, for your book-writing project. Set it somewhere between 30 and 90 days…that’s right, before you get started, you want to have a clear deadline set out for the completion of your draft.
Mark it somewhere you can see it every day. Your end date will help you stay on track.
Another recommendation is to hire your editor and schedule them for your deadline. That way, you have one more motivating factor to keep the writing ball rolling.
2. Set Concrete Goals
One of the best ways to keep your writing moving is to set word count goals for yourself. The idea behind word count goals is that if you set up parameters for your own success, you’ll be more likely to achieve those goals.
If you don’t have concrete, defined goals, then it’s that much easier to procrastinate, and then your pages might get done…someday. Or not.
Word count goals also serve the purpose of setting up a visual aid and reward system. It feels amazing to cross things off your list. So, document your achievements. Write down your daily, weekly, and monthly word count goals, then take a red marker and draw a big red line through each accomplishment when you’re finished.
What should your daily word count be? We suggest aiming for 500-1,000 words per day; that’s about one hour per day. If you stick with a word count goal of 1,000 words per day, at the end of 30 days, you’ll be looking at your completed 30,000 word first draft!
3. Find Your People
A supportive community can be a sounding board, a first pair of eyes, and a protector of your sanity. They can also be the extrinsic motivation you need to meet your own deadlines and word counts. When you know you have a team backing you up, it’s that much harder to drag your feet. They expect great things from you—don’t disappoint them!
At Self-Publishing School, we believe in something called the accountabilibuddy system, where students pair up with other like-minded students to encourage one another and hold each other accountable for reaching goals and deadlines. It’s a great motivator and helps our students complete their books on time.
4. Work at Warp Speed
Here’s the idea: Drafting at lightning speed will prevent you from taking decades to finish your book. As we already talked about, you CAN write a book in 30 to 90 days!
The faster you write, the easier it will be meet your goals. Here are some simple tricks to boost your writing speed:
- Write every day.
- Adhere to your set writing routine.
- Don’t get stuck, move on to another section if you’re floundering.
- Limit research so you move forward with your pages.
- Plan weekly meetings with a partner to cheer you on.
5. Prioritize Yourself
One of the hardest things to do is to put ourselves first. There are so many competing thing pulling at our time and energy. It can seem as though once we’ve met work, family, life, volunteer, and friend obligations, there’s little left over for ourselves.
We’re here to tell you that in order to write your book, you need to make the effort to be selfish, at least for a short block of time every day. Put yourself first. Make you your first priority. Get your book done—it will pay off. Not just monetarily, but in terms of life satisfaction and intrinsic rewards.
You can wake up half an hour earlier each morning, you can skip the social lunch at work and spend twenty minutes at your desk writing, you can use your subway ride to scribble pages—you get the idea. There’s time to be found, just make an effort to put yourself first and find it. You’ll be happy you did.
Don’t lose out on your dream of becoming a published author because you short-changed yourself. If you can carve out just a short window of time each day, you can make it happen. And it will feel fabulous when it does.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 5/16/2016 and has been updated for accuracy.
Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!