How Long Should a Novel Take to Write?

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It’s another chapter in the “How long should…” series of blog posts. I saw this question on a writing forum and immediately thought, “Should, could, would…” It’s the kind of question that someone who has never written a novel tends to ask and makes me think they want to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Boy, are they going to be shocked when they realise that’s almost impossible.

In almost every one of the “How long should…” series, I bring up the piece of string and then go into guidelines that might help somehow. But that’s unlikely when we’re talking about how long it should take to write a novel. Because it’s not like roasting a chicken or completing a school year or watching a movie, all of which will come to an end within a reasonably predictable time frame.

But here are a few things to consider about the sort of commitment it takes. Continue reading

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Introduction from Project January: A Sequel About Writing

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Almost as soon as I finished writing Project December: A Book About Writing, I knew I was going to follow it up with a sequel. I told myself a year was a reasonable interval between books and that since the first one had only taken six months to write, I had a little bit of time up my sleeve. I took some time off, wrote 30,000 words of a novel I’ve been trying to finish for the last four years (still not finished) and then started to gear up to yet again write about writing.

Of course, as with all the best laid plans, life was about to get in the way. I landed a six-week writing job, then another, did a semester of intensive tutoring for a university student and last but not least received – and accepted – an offer to extensively rewrite and edit an autobiography. Suddenly, it was November and I barely had half of Project January: A Sequel About Writing written. I hadn’t even had a chance to do my traditional Project October month of intensive writing. Continue reading