Looking at how long it takes to write a novel

Last week I wrote about the ups and downs of writing. Sometimes I am cranking out the words and other days I am struggling to find time to write.

As I read about the experiences of other authors, I hear about authors who write thousands of words a day. And while it is good to have a writing goal and to be actually writing, is it worth it to write a lot of not so good words or should you strive to write quality writing? Do you want to cut a lot of what you write?

Well, I guess that is right, but I do hate deleting a lot of what I write so my writing is slower as I strive for quality passages verses a high number of words. And of course, I do edit as I write so that takes longer to write. But I am getting off the topic here.

Today, I wanted to talk about how long it takes to write a novel, and how you should take it with a grain of salt when other authors say they crank out books every month, every other month or how ever often they say they write a book.

If you ask 10 authors how long it takes to write a book, you will probably get 10 different answers. For some it takes 10 years or 4 years or 1 year or 6 months. It can take a long time to write a novel if you have research, complex plots or if you spend a lot of time fine-tuning sentences. How often you write and for how long, your level of writing experience, the genre, and length of novel also play into how long it takes to write a novel.

This is that grain of salt thing I mentioned when listening to how long it takes authors to write a book. Here is a list of books and how long they took to write. Note the word count, some of these books are short. I could certainly crank out more books if my stories were 28,000 or even 53,000 words.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – 3 weeks (67,000 words)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – 6 weeks (28,000 words)

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – 3 months (112,000 words)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – 9 months (53,000 words)

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – 1 ½ years (19,500 words)

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien – 2 years (95,000 words)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 2 ½ years (99,000 words)

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin – 5 years (293,000 words)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling – 6 ½ years (77,000 words)

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 10 years (418,000 words)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – 12 years (655,000 words)

The argument for writing books faster is that your readership grows exponentially with each book. Fans of your first book will often read your second one. And readers who find you later on, if they like your writing, will go back and read your other books. If you take too long to publish your next book, there is a chance readers will forget about you. (Or so the thinking goes among some authors.)

But cranking out sub-standard books is also not a good thing which sometimes happens when authors rush their stories.

So, when aspiring or newbie authors ask how long it takes to write a novel, it really takes as long as you want or need it to take. And that is different for all of us.

The ups and downs of writing

If you are a follower of my blog, you undoubtedly noticed that for most of May, I have not posted my weekly writing/publishing post. I really was just too busy. And for once, I wasn’t just busy with non-writing stuff (PTA, work, kids’ end of the school events – though I did have these things too), I was actually writing on my current work-in-progress, which I had been neglecting.

But I don’t want to get away from writing on my blog so here I am. For today’s topic I thought I would talk about the ups and downs of writing.

Now, I don’t know how it is for you, but I am not dedicated enough to be writing every day though I know some authors have that down. I find myself going through periods where I am writing daily and progressing with my story and then there are periods where I barely have time to breath let alone write.

And when I am not writing, I begin to worry about being unproductive. I worry about how long it is taking me to write this book. I think about all those stories about authors who can crank out four books a year or even the crazy ones that do more than that. (Next week, I will go over how this “I write X book a month/year” can be deceiving.)

Even the most diligent of us who set goals are going to miss some of them. We’re human. It happens.

If you are a steady, methodical writer who sits down and cranks out words daily, then this up and down writing pattern isn’t something you know or worry about. (And I am jealous.)

But, if you’re like me, some days I write like crazy and other times I struggle. Now sometimes that struggle is just figuring out what to write and sometimes it is a work-related or personal event that impacts my writing productivity.

Of course, rather than be obsessed with the ups and downs of writing, I need to remember that we all write at our own pace. What works for me will be different than what works for another author. I need to not worry about how fast others turn out books but continue to focus on my writing. But, I also need to make time for my blog…and marketing…and…

May is Short Story Month – #excerpt of THE SEARCH

It is a rainy May here in Texas. May is also Short Story Month so if you have to stay inside, check out some short stories this month.

Short story month began back in 2007 to showcase books that could be read in one sitting. Now there isn’t an official number of words that constitutes a short story but the general consensus online is that a short story is between 1000 and 7,500 words.

Hmmm…that makes my “short” story, The Search, which is a prequel to my The Elemental trilogy, not technically a “short” story. However, I call it a short story because 12,000 words is much less than my full length novels that have 80,000+ words.

So in honor of Short Story Month, let me share with you an excerpt of my “short” story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo StoreiTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon.

The Search: Book Description

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

The Search: Excerpt

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesso

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”n into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.

 

Z is for Zealous #AtoZChallenge

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of character flaws – something all characters need.

Here we are at the end of the A to Z Challenge. And today, we have Z is for Zealous. This character is passionate and often overly enthusiastic. They may be blindly devoted and spend a ridiculous amount of time on whatever is the subject of their fanaticism even if it is illogical.

This character makes an ideal antagonist because he or she focuses on the object of their zeal to such an extent that nothing and no one is safe if they provide a challenge to them.

The zealous character is earnest and uncompromising. He cares for one thing, lives for one thing.

Previous A to Z Challenge Posts

A is for Argumentative 

B is for Bossy

C is for Callous 

D is for Disorganized

E is for Envious

F is for Frivolous 

G is for Gullible 

H is for Humorless 

I is for Impulsive

J is for Judgmental

K is for Klutz 

L is for Lazy

M is for Materialistic

N is for Needy

O is for Obsessive

P is for Paranoid 

Q is for Questioning

R is for Reckless 

S is for Stubborn 

T is for Temperamental 

U is for Uncouth 

V is for Vindictive 

W is for Worrywart 

X is for Xenophobic 

Y is for Yelling

Y is for Yelling #AtoZChallenge

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of character flaws – something all characters need.

Y is for Yelling. Whether the character just speaks loudly, in a booming voice, all the time or whether they are filled with anger and losing their temper, no one wants to be around someone who yells.

Yelling is never a good communication method. It can induce fear in the person who is being yelled at or they may feel as if they are being berated or it can cause the other person to respond in anger as they feel they are being attacked. Family and friends may avoid people who yell a lot.

Parents too often fall into yelling at their children because they feel like that is the only time their children pay attention to them. But it doesn’t feel good for the yeller or the one being yelled at and as I mentioned earlier, it is not an good (or effective communication method.)

Previous A to Z Challenge Posts

A is for Argumentative 

B is for Bossy

C is for Callous 

D is for Disorganized

E is for Envious

F is for Frivolous 

G is for Gullible 

H is for Humorless 

I is for Impulsive

J is for Judgmental

K is for Klutz 

L is for Lazy

M is for Materialistic

N is for Needy

O is for Obsessive

P is for Paranoid 

Q is for Questioning

R is for Reckless 

S is for Stubborn 

T is for Temperamental 

U is for Uncouth 

V is for Vindictive 

W is for Worrywart 

X is for Xenophobic 

X is Xenophobic #AtoZChallenge

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of character flaws – something all characters need.

X is for Xenophobic. A Xenophobic character has a fear or distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Typically, it is disliking or being prejudice against people from other countries.

Maybe this person fears these people will take their jobs or lower the value of the neighborhood as these people move in. This character might be suspicious of their activities and have a desire to eliminate their presence.

A xenophobic character may see one “bad apple” in the group and generalize that negative experience to the rest of the group. They find it stressful to be exposed to the cultures or people that are unknown or different than them. They may be hostile in their behavior and can get abusive when dealing with those who they fear.

Previous A to Z Challenge Posts

A is for Argumentative 

B is for Bossy

C is for Callous 

D is for Disorganized

E is for Envious

F is for Frivolous 

G is for Gullible 

H is for Humorless 

I is for Impulsive

J is for Judgmental

K is for Klutz 

L is for Lazy

M is for Materialistic

N is for Needy

O is for Obsessive

P is for Paranoid 

Q is for Questioning

R is for Reckless 

S is for Stubborn 

T is for Temperamental 

U is for Uncouth 

V is for Vindictive 

W is for Worrywart 

W is for Worrywart #AtoZChallenge

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of character flaws – something all characters need.

W is for Worrywart. These characters worry – all the time. They worry about safety and health for themselves and their loved ones.

Worrywarts take worrying to a whole new level – an unhealthy one. They can be overprotective and obsessive.

Previous A to Z Challenge Posts

A is for Argumentative 

B is for Bossy

C is for Callous 

D is for Disorganized

E is for Envious

F is for Frivolous 

G is for Gullible 

H is for Humorless 

I is for Impulsive

J is for Judgmental

K is for Klutz 

L is for Lazy

M is for Materialistic

N is for Needy

O is for Obsessive

P is for Paranoid 

Q is for Questioning

R is for Reckless 

S is for Stubborn 

T is for Temperamental 

U is for Uncouth 

V is for Vindictive