Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Long and Short of it

For 13 years I've been slowly but surely shaping my writing. Along the way I thought to read how the experts have done it. I gorged on How-to writing books and built myself a nice collection of them. I spent time analyzing the construction of a short story and a novel. Within each book there was a general consensus about how long it takes from the process of the first draft to actually being published. So here's what I've gathered:

Average time it takes to write a book:

3 months to 10 years - Thomas Harris takes his books ten years at a time. J.A. Konrath has said on his blog that he can complete a book in a month. Aprilynne Pike finished her first book during her pregnancy. Charles Bukowski finished a book within a month. These are the rare exceptions to this rule.

Average time to edit a book -

2 months to 2 years

Average time to hear a response from a publisher:

3 weeks to 9 months

Average time it takes to release your book:

2 months to 1 year

That's the long and short of it. But in my opinion, write a good book of what you know, file it away for two weeks to a month, edit it, polish it, then send it out. There should be no good reason why it takes you 10 years to write a book.

Mr. Dead Eyes took me 6 years to write.

Wearing Donnie Torr took me 2 years.

For What It's Worth took me a little over 9 months to write.

So as the years go on, I've trimmed down the amount of time it takes to shape a story. Writing doesn't mean you have to obsess on every single detail and fervently consider every single word. Being meticulous like that will just stall you. Just heed Hemingway's advice: All you have to do is write one true sentence.

Then another.

Then another...

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