Friday, August 04, 2017

Writing: How Long Does It Take?

When I'm asked how long it usually takes me to write a novel, I always think of the reply of Abraham Lincoln when he was asked how long a man's legs should be. His answer? "Long enough to reach the ground." In like fashion, the answer to the question about how long it takes to write a novel is, "As long as it takes."

Some authors may take years to write an unforgettable novel. Other writers produce several books a year. I've always thought that a novel a year (a time period contractually specified by my cyber friend, the late Dr. Michael Palmer) was a good time frame. However, my contracts have always been for a new novel every six to eight months. I made those deadlines with plenty of time to spare, but there were times when I longed for a more leisurely pace. Then recently, when more than twelve months separated the publication of my novels, I realized that I'd gotten used to the six- to eight-month time period, and I found myself doing what I always advise unpublished writers to do while waiting for a publisher to sign them: I wrote another novel.

I've gone into the circumstances elsewhere that led to my becoming a hybrid author--one whose work has been published by a traditional publishing house, but who now publishes his/her work independently. So far, your response to my latest novel, Cardiac Event, has been gratifying. To keep you posted on my plans, I have one completed novel, one completed novella, one novella nearing completion, and at the present time my plans are to release these over the next year. Of course, plans can change, but that's what I have in mind.

How long should it take to write a novel? Why, as long as it takes...whether that's a few months, a year, or longer. And now, while I get back to writing, I'll let you answer that question. And I'll be interested to see what you think.

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greg fuller said...
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Elise Griffith said...

I just finished reading 'Cardiac Event' in paperback and left a review on Amazon. However long it takes you to write a novel, it's been worth the wait! It seems to me when NYT bestselling authors pump out 3-4 novels a year, quality of writing slips. Maybe due to the pressure of too tight deadlines? Maybe because they can't pause for creative restoration? If publishing a book is like having a baby... well, a mother needs at least some recovery time before the next gestation period. Looking forward to your next titles in whatever time it takes.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Elise. Unfortunately, you're right--when authors publish several books a year, either the ones they write aren't as good as some of the others or they have co-authors (either silent or credited). Now that I'm self-publishing, I expect to have a novella ready for early winter, another novel next spring, etc. I appreciate your comment (and your review of Cardiac Event).

Patricia Bradley said...

A longer time frame between books would be nice, but at my age, I figure I better get as many out as I can. :-) Of course, my brain has to cooperate.

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, you're right--we've all learned in various ways that we're not guaranteed tomorrow, much less time enough to write that "just one more" that's tickling at our brains.