While you may feel as if you have been writing FOREVER, you may not actually be coming close to common, expected times to write different types of books. While some authors are very fast and quite prolific – writing up to 5,000 words an hour and releasing new books every month, the average amount of time it takes to write a book can range from 6 weeks to 16 years. Clockwork Orange was written in just 3 weeks, while Gone With The Wind took over 10 years, so clearly there is no “average” amount of time needed. Unless you have a publisher breathing down your neck for your next novel (and what a nice problem to have!), your book will take as long as:
- It needs to take to write
- You allow it to take to write
Personally, I believe in the power of momentum, so I don’t like to allow the prospective authors with whom I work to have TOO much time, or else they will simply stop writing and allow inertia to set in. Writing is a journey, and as with all journeys, it doesn’t matter how quickly you travel, as long as you keep moving forward.
But I think that the question is not “How much time will it take?” but “How long should my book be?” The answer to that question lies in what genre you are writing, as there is an expected length for various types of writing.
Averages for different types are:
Flash fiction – under 500 words
Short story – between 1,000 and 8,000 words
Novella – between 10,000 and 40,000 words
Novel – over 50,000 words, but generally between 60,000 and 100,000 words
If you really wanted to determine in a mathematical manner how long that should take, you could multiply the number of words per minute you can type by those sample word counts. Figuring it like that, a person who can type 60 words per minute could write a novel in . . . about 20 hours!
That may work in math, but it certainly isn’t reasonable! So, figure that a novel will take somewhere between 20 hours and 20 years – that’s about right!