How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

It’s a question I get asked regularly, especially when I’m speaking from stage…

“How long does it take to write a book?”

I get it! You want to know how to plan your work load, your life, your biz, and your book’s launch.

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:
051716-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.)

Why writing a book is like vacuuming the house! Click To Tweet

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 a shorter book (20,000-30,000 words) 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 13 weeks:

Weeks 1-3: Idea creation, coming up with your outline, research, etc.
Weeks 4-8: Writing up a storm
Weeks 9-10: Writing – but it often slows down here as the initial surge of excitement wanes and the real “work” of writing kicks in
Weeks 11-12: Reviewing what you’ve written for holes and omissions. Filling in the blanks. Removing any sections where you go TOO deep.
Week 13: Wrap up and tidy the FIRST draft – and getting ready for round 1 of editing!

Remember, 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!

Draft ONE is better than Draft NONE. #amwriting Click To Tweet

Figure a minimum of 13 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.

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.

Draft ONE is better than Draft NONE!

Kim Galloway
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