How long does it take to write a book?

I was speaking on the PROSPER telesummit yesterday and got asked the question, “How long does it take to write a book?”

Now, this question ties into the presentation I gave so I don’t want to rehash what’s already been covered with my seven steps to using your own materials to write a book. But I do want to address the question directly!

Unfortunately this is one of those “it depends” answers.

A book is a project with a clear starting and ending point. (Idea to completed first draft). But the path between those two points can get… murky.

Think of it this way:
011315-VacuumI want to vacuum my house. I have to get the vacuum and plug it in – regardless of how large my house is, I must do that step. (Call this the idea step!)

Then, I have to vacuum. But do I dust first? Is that really part of vacuuming? (This can be thinking about companion products to your book – like an opt-in gift.)

Is this the week where I do a quickie vacuum or when I really move furniture and get in all the cracks? (This can be the difference between mini-book or a longer book.)

How big is my house? Am I vacuuming every room or just the main areas? (Think about your book – are you trying to be the definitive guide or an introduction?)

The end goal is to have the house vacuumed – clean floors. But the time to get from getting the vacuum out and plugging it in until I’m done and wrapping up the cord and putting it away… That varies!

To drop the metaphor, I’ve seen people who can bang out a rough draft in just a few days. Normally, this is not only unrealistic, but you also don’t give your subconscious and creativity enough time to really percolate. A better “how fast” rule of thumb is 4 weeks:

Week 1: Idea creation, coming up with your outline
Week 2: Writing
Week 3: Writing
Week 4: Reviewing what you’ve written for holes and omissions. Filling in the blanks. Removing any sections where you go TOO deep.

011315-CalendarRemember, this is to create a ROUGH draft. Just last week I had a manuscript hit my inbox that was a great rough draft – rough but with lots of potential. The problem was that the author thought it was a final draft and ready for publication. Um, yeah… not really. There were areas that were unclear, not in keeping with the book’s theme, and needed to be developed. There were other areas that were great – but in the wrong spot!

Figure a minimum of 4 weeks just in the writing of your first draft! Assuming that you’re also running a business or working a full-time job, this can be longer. And that’s okay! The goal is to have a quality manuscript to publish.

Write your #book in just 4 weeks! Share on X

All that being said: you DON’T need to agonize over every single word! No starving artists romantically suffering from writer’s block here, please! Get it done, get it written. A bad rough draft is better than no draft at all – I can FIX rough. I can’t fix “in my head”!

PS: I’ve taken anywhere from 8 months (Tent Camping) to 3 weeks to write a rough draft (Campfire Stories). A lot of it depends on how well you do the pre-writing stages of book ideas!


Kim Galloway
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