March 18


How long will it take me to write a book?

As you can imagine I get asked a lot about how long it will take to write a book. The answer is always it depends. That may sound like a cop out. However, it depends on you, your commitment and the action you take.

You can write a book to final draft in 90 days. Some people have been known to publish in this time as well. Personally, I am not sure how they have done it, but you never know other peoples commitment, work ethic, what support they have and what they have let go of to enable this to happen – do you?

I know this. Once you have worked out how you are going to write a book in let’s say 90 days and started to write, it may feel like you are in a parallel universe, where time seems to be consumed by your writing. The cleaning gets left, you forget that the world exists outside, but be assured that when the journey is over, normal life can, and will, resume.

You have to write the book that wants to be written

How to work out how long it will take to write a book

Firstly you need to be committed

To ensure that your plan comes together, make a commitment, put it up somewhere so that you can see and it acts as a constant reminder. Remember to move it around, or it will become part of the decoration, and you will forget about it.

Put it on a post it note, in fact, put it on many post it notes and dot them around the house.

My commitment statement

  • On a scale of 0-10, where is your commitment?
  • I (your name) commit to writing my book (book title) by (date of the first draft)
  • Next, write whatever POSITIVE statements come to mind that help you to clarify this process

Planning your time – setting deadlines

If you want to publish your book by a set date, you have first to set your outcome to get it done and then plan your time effectively. Your next job is to set some dates of milestones.

What is the book writing process?

The worst thing you do write is better than the best thing you don’t write.

This is my process once I have the outline and chapter framework completed.

  • First draft (write, don’t edit)
  • First edit, which is a read through of the entire book
  • The second edit, read and scribble. I take myself somewhere quiet and lose myself in my first draft. At this stage, I am tough on myself, and you will end up wondering – how did I make so many mistakes? I do also reframe and marvel at how much I have written.
  • Second and third edit is on my computer. I take a chapter at a time and usually do 2-3 chapters per session.
  • First print proof (I always do this step). This takes about a week to get to you. In this time I work on other parts of my book project.
  • Read and amend proof book. I’ll also read it aloud as this provides another dimension to editing.
  • Final editing bits and pieces. I’ll now order 5 proof copies and give them to BETA readers; I’ll ask each to read a few chapters, while secretly hoping that they will read all of it.
  • Update, another proof book to go to the proofreader
  • Final read through and edits from me and go live.

I find reading my book as a ‘real’ book (printed) helps me to see it in another light. Once I have done my final edit, which I call my final proof, I will send it to the proof-reader, which normally takes about 2 weeks.

Working out how long it will take to write

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Let’s decide to write a traditional self-published book with approx. 30,000 words. The number of words per page in a print book will differ, from an A4 size. We will use a 6×9 rather than A4. An A4 page gives you about 350 words and a 6×9 about 250.

  • Imagine your book is 30,000 (or 40,000)
  • How many words can you write in an hour? 500 or 1000?
  • How many words can you write per day? 1000, 2000 or 3000?
  • Will you write every day, or will you set a weekly target?

What I am about to suggest is not an exact science, but it will focus your mind on your writing outcomes. If you are the kind of person, who goes into overwhelm when you see big numbers, focus on the small numbers, i.e. the number of words per hour or per day.

When it comes to this book, you will have stuff to write from scratch, stuff you can repurpose and things that need researching. If you want to find out your process then test yourself.

Start by timing yourself for 30 minutes. Pick something that you are an expert in and just write. How many words can you type or write long-hand? Then pick something which needs some research. Practice repurposing a blog.

  • How long did it take you?
  • Now add 20% for interruptions, procrastination and other stuff
  • Did you remember to factor in planning, research and editing?
  • How much knowledge did you have before you started?
  • What process did you go through to undertake your research?
  • What is your writing process? This is very important to understand. Get it right and your writing will flow.

The time stealer

Working out how long it will all take in a perfect world is all well and good. However, procrastination and time stealers are the enemies of the writer. For everyone who hates planning, just swap TV time for writing time. Have a go at working out where your wasted time is. Ask yourself:

  • How long do I take doing unimportant things that take me away from my writing?
  • Is there a pattern to my time-wasting activities?

Your writing process

No two people write in the same way, so you need to find a way that works just for you. Whatever that way is, it is perfect. When we want to go somewhere, we use a map.

Writing is like a dance

Your process is your unique map.

To find out what your map is, it would be useful to understand how another writer writes and notice his or her patterns. In a perfect world, it would ne nice be able to interview, watch and fully understand how an expert writer operates. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world, and you may not have access to other writers– but you could ask your writer friends.

This means that you will have to map out what you do and how you do it. Analyse it and work out how you can become more effective and efficient in the process or accept the way in which you do things and make allowances.

Remember, you are not alone, and there are always tools, people and resources which you can call on for help.

To work out what your process is you must walk through all the steps that you take.

The key now is to think about how you will get the most value out of your writing process.

Ok so how long will it take to write a book to final draft?

For clarity, this is your first draft.

30, 000 words – 1000 a day, this is easy maths, 30 days. I’d suggest that you can write at least 2000 per day.

2000 per day at 5 days a week. 10,000 per week. 30,000 words in 3 weeks – 21 days.

Then rest up for 7 days or longer. You are the one with your publishing deadline. 28 days.

Approx. 4 weeks.

Then start the editing process. I start this on a weekend when I can do the first read through on a Saturday and the first edit and scribble on a Sunday. Although I work on Sundays, I set aside time to do this.

Each day that follows, I will edit 2-3 chapters. If I have 10-12 chapters, I can reasonably expect with interruptions and distractions for this to be completed in 2 weeks.

Then I will do a series of read-throughs looking for repeated words, and I use Grammarly to help me focus on other aspects. This aspect bores me, so I have to force myself to do it.

Approx. 3 weeks, 7 weeks so far.

Then I will order my proof book. 7 days wait.

I’ll sit and edit 2-3 chapters in the book by hand and then the following day transfer this to the digital version. 2 weeks.

Approx. 10 – 12 weeks.

When completed I will order proof books for my beta readers and go through the rest of the process.

When my book comes back from the beta readers, I’ll do the final amendments and send it off to the proofreader and I will check it when it comes back on screen. Then I will publish.

When you look at this, do you feel that you could do it or will you need longer?

Craft your plan. Get a coach and do the work. You will thank yourself for the effort when you hold your book in your hands.

Always be realistic. It could take you 12 months.

No matter how long it takes as long as you have a book that you are delighted with and which aligns your brand and business then you have written your book in the right amount of time.


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