How long does it take to write a book?

Alright, I confess. I sort of lured you in under false pretenses. A tiny bit. Because …

How long does it take to write a book? isn’t the right question.

That’s the right question is:

How long does it take you to write a book?

And if you’re reading this because you’re writing (or want to write) a book, you’re probably cursing you right now, because i’m not giving you a tidy answer like one week, one month, eight months, one year, ten years.

The annoying truth is, books have been written in all of those time frames.

I know authors who’ve written a book in three days (not kidding).

I’ve talked to writers who are still working on a book they started 5+ years ago.

Some of my author friends take two weeks, others average about six months. Some take three months. Some take a year and a half.

You get the idea.

It depends.

When I get asked the question, I usually simplify my answer:

It takes me about a month to write a book.

That’s an average. Most of my books take me six weeks or so, but every now and then one will come along and take less than a month. And then another one will come along and take me several months.

Again, it depends.

And here’s something I’d like everybody to pay very close attention to: 

There is no right amount of time to take writing a book. Slower is not better. Faster is not better.

It’s a common misperception that better books take longer to write, because the author took his/her time.

I call absolute BS on that. Some books are written very quickly, not because the author was rushed, but because he was inspired, and couldn’t get the words down fast enough (it happens). 

And the BS goes both ways! A quickly-written book isn’t inherently better than a book that took a year. Some books are simply trickier, they take their time revealing themselves to the author, or have more intricate plots. That happens too.

Or maybe it’s more complicated than that. Maybe the author was inspired wanted to write fast, but other commitments got in the way and slowed his/her pace.

Again, it depends.

On the author. On the story. On the circumstances.

One of the most fascinating types of negative reviews I encounter (both on my books and books by other authors) is the accusation that the author “obviously rushed through it.”

I'll read a 1-or-2-star reviews proclaiming that the book they're currently hating on was "rushed." The reviewer, who apparently has access to my writing schedule, will go on to say that I'm "clearly writing too many books in a year." Often, the review will also go on to reference one of my previous books--a book that the reviewer deems better. You know, back when I wasn't "rushing." 

Those reviews always makes makes me smile.

Because every single time I’ve seen that accusation, the reviewer got it wrong. The “awful” book that I supposedly churned out was a book that I took months to write. And the book that they’re comparing it too—the previous release of mine that they loved? That’s the one I wrote in a matter of weeks.

Now, I’m absolutely not saying that my quickly-written books are better. Not at all.

The lesson? Don't make assumptions about how long a book took to write based on whether or not you personally cared for it.

With the exception of Blurred Lines, which I’ve openly talked about taking 2 weeks to write, nobody except a couple of very close friends “in the biz” know how long each of my books took me from start to finish.

I do this rather intentionally so that there’s never any preconceived notion of, “Ugh, that one took her forever to write, she must not have been inspired.” Or the opposite, which is just as bad: “Oh man, she rushed that one, it's gonna suck." 

I realize that I speak only for my own booklist, my own genre, but I don’t know that the length of time spent writing a book determines its greatness. 

I know what my bestsellers are. I know what my best reviewed books are. I also know my worst-reviewed, and my worst sellers.

I've found no correlation between time-spent writing the book and the sales/critical reception of the book.

How long does it take to write a book?

It takes as long as it takes. 

You get to decide, writers! 


Author CareerLauren Layne