A Page a Day, a Chapter a Week


You might wonder how long it takes to write a novel. Every writer would give you a different answer. It depends on so many things: time, interest, how long of a book is being written.

In fact, the answer can really be different for each book.

The sprawling mess of the rewrite to Born of Water. This is yet to come with the novel I wrote in a month. Soon . . . just after I finish Rule of Fire!

I hand wrote an 80,000 word novel in less than a month. It had been after a long period when I hadn’t read anything, hadn’t drawn anything, and had kept myself really from dreaming anything beyond the reality in front of me. When I opened my mind to it (caved in really), that story just poured out of me. I have more vivid memories of what I was writing during that month than anything I lived at the time.

The fact that THAT story hasn’t been published yet is more a matter of the fact that I was learning the ropes than any statement on the plot. I have plans to rewrite it to clean up the points of view and increase the pace. Otherwise, after the normal rounds of editing of course, it would have been a perfectly publishable story.

A novel in a month was pretty extreme for me (but it felt good!).

The other end of the spectrum was the first novel I wrote. It was a trilogy (yes, I often tend to bite off more than I can chew!). It took 9 years. And that was typing the whole thing!

True, I did go back to college, switch to a Master’s degree, graduated, got married, got a good job, lost the original manuscript, started over from scratch, and wrote all three very long books during that time. It was a busy 9 years.

Unfortunately, the story that took 9 years to write will most likely never see the light of day. It was a first attempt and contains too many mistakes and I’m really just not in love with it. Nine years is a long time to spend with a story!



The secret to writing a novel? No moment should ever be wasted! Me outside a laundromat . . . writing.

So, how long should it take to write a novel? Now that I have a technique worked out, I think 3 to 6 months is reasonable – 8 months not unrealistic. At a minimum when I get into writing mode, I try to write at least a page a day and a chapter a week. That is honestly a small goal, but keeps me writing during the early phase of the novel when you set up many of the subplots that will start to tie off later. Once I get going, I can usually manage 2 to 3 chapters a week (an average of 6 pages a chapter).

Rule of Fire is slated to have around 30 chapters. Born of Water has 42! If you multiply that out by minimums, that means it will take me 30 weeks or seven and a half MONTHS to write the sequel. And that is before editing! Of course, once I hit my stride (and focus!), I think it will end up being closer to 4 months to write Rule of Fire (and I have already started, but that house building thing has messed up even my meager schedule!).

Why tell you all of this?

I do get questions about how long it takes to write a novel and how I find time (I don’t watch regular TV – just Netflix on occasion, I give up sleep when I need to, I have been tempted to feed my husband cereal for dinner so I can go back to writing . . . !). And after Tami’s post on What Reader’s Want, I think it is good to consider how much energy, thought, passion, and LIFE went into that novel you just read. Please, give feedback if you liked – or didn’t! – an author’s work. It is really so amazing to hear from a reader. If we never hear back, the next time the alarm goes off at 5 am, your favorite author may just roll back over. No new releases, no sequels . . . now THAT is a horror story!

– Autumn



3 comments on “A Page a Day, a Chapter a Week

  1. Great post, as always, Autumn. It’s funny that the process can be so different from writer to writer and from book to book. You hear horror stories about writers taking decades to write a book, then there are people like Amanda Hocking who apparently churns each of hers out in about six weeks. I’ve honestly never kept track, but I think I fall into that six month range. I always wonder, though: how many novels could I write in a year if I could do it full-time…

    • “I always wonder, though: how many novels could I write in a year if I could do it full-time…”

      You and me both! The thought of writing full time, and what I could accomplish, makes my skin tingle. Is that not the holy grail for a writer? 🙂

  2. Pingback: A Turn of Phrase | Guild Of Dreams

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