How Fast Can You Write a Book? How Many Can You Write in a Year?

February 20, 2013

My first novel took ten years to write. (If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ve “heard” me say that a thousand times.) Recently, I wrote my favorite manuscript (thus far) in two months—from October to December. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was doing with the first manuscript, AND it was ninety-thousand words. This last manuscript logged in at fifty-thousand words. But if you do the math, you’ll see I would’ve reached the ninety-thousand-word mark well before ten years with this one. (I’d hope so, right?)

My point is, writing does get easier with time. My question is, just how much easier?

How many quality manuscripts can I put out each year? The key word is quality. I know I can write, and I can write fast, but I also know if I’m not careful a story can fall apart in the middle. It’s not okay with me to have a strong start, a strong end and a crappy in-between. For me, keeping the middle humming is a chore. I suspect a lot of writers are like this. Critique partners, beta readers and editors help, but it’d save me so much time if I could get it right the first time through. And that takes time.

While I’m perfectly capable of writing a category-length manuscript in two months, that’s not a given, and it doesn’t mean I can write six manuscripts a year, especially if my manuscripts are selling. They don’t stay as-is for long after signing the contract. I have to factor in edits for contracted manuscripts while I’m writing the next book in a series, while I’m plotting my next brand new idea, while I’m waiting to hear back on submissions I sent out into the scary publishing world. It’s…chaotic.

Of course, it’s great fun, too.

Writing is a learning process, not just craft but also execution. More often than not, there is no answer to the burning questions, like how long does it take to write a book and how many books can be written in one year? We just have to jump in, give it a go, see what happens, and try to keep our heart rates normal while we’re panicking. 🙂



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