Everyone wants the answer to this question to be simple and the response along the lines of “It’s easy” and “Of course it doesn’t take long!”
But it isn’t.
Writing is hard and it takes time.
I have pumped out first drafts in reasonably quick time frames, but then there is a lot more work required after that.
There are edits required and I don’t care how good you think the first draft is, you are going to need to at least read through it again, and tweak something. And if this is your first book, there will be quite a few tweaks and changes needed.
Track your time
I track how long I spend doing different tasks. This tells me lots of things, how long each part of the writing process takes, how much time I spend writing, how much time I don’t spend writing.
Cleary the more time you put into a book the quicker the process. But it does need time to rest and ruminate to help it grow big and strong.
With all the writing and re-writing and non-writing time I spent with the Mark of Oldra it took me years. If I had knuckled down and focused better it would have only taken a fraction of that time. But then I didn’t think it through before hand and I found the thinking time between writing times helpful.
Planning and Outlining
I started out a pantser. Partly because I didn’t know any better. Now I am far more organised, at least planning out key points and character arcs before I start writing.
I am already playing with ideas for my next big project. These will expand into a solid outline and then beats for each scene before I start writing. Although I do have some time to do that, I’m booked up with other projects – namely the Raven Crown Series – and I won’t be able to start drafting until 2018. But I am going to be very ready when I start, and hopefully that will make the writing process smoother, and involve less re-writing. And thus speed up the writing process.
I hope to become the ultimate planner.
Just how long…
My writing process has taken years of learning, trial and error.
Each writing project teaches you more about the writing process and what that means to you, how you could do it better, how you could do it differently.
I don’t know that I will ever find the perfect system, the perfect process for writing a book. It seems to be evolving and it may be that for different projects what works for one, won’t work with another.
I’m not sure that I have answered the question.
In fact I’m not sure there is a steadfast answer that we could all use.
Writing is different for all of us. Life around writing is different for all of us. Our discipline and focus shifts.
Make notes, learn all you can from other writers, and track what you do and how that works or doesn’t work for you.
Determine how long it takes you to write a book and then see if you can apply process that with the next book.
Assuming that my outline and beats are perfect before I start my next project; and assuming my focus is razor sharp; that I’m still working full time; and that my current practices still hold, it will take me about 10 months from drafting to published. This includes a lot of assumptions. It may be that I finish sooner or it may take me longer.