It takes HOW LONG to write a book?!

Welcome back to my blog where I delve into the life of what it’s like trying to get into the world of writing while I plunder on with my first book. My second post is going to be about how outrageously long it turns out writing a book takes.

If, like me, you have absolutely no previous experience in the field of authoring (except maybe a year ten, 2 page creative writing project) then you too might have assumed that writing is easy. My thoughts very much mirrored those of Jez from Peep Show, “I could write a book, piece of piss. Chapter one; The end. There you go. Book.” I mean once you’ve got the plot roughly worked out and know what characters you’re going to have it’s just a case of getting it all typed up, right? Easy, right?! WRONG! Oh how heart breakingly, finger achingly wrong I was. For the first few months of attempting to get my book off the ground, casually dipping into writing when I had a spare moment around working and socialising, I managed a jaw dropping 2 and a half thousand words. If that sounds like a lot that’s because 2 thousand ordinarily is quite a large number. I mean if I had just bought 2 thousand chocolate bars I would probably be in a massive sugar induced frenzy terrorizing vegan cafes with my delicious milk based haul. But sadly, when most novels are dancing around the 100 thousand word range, those 2 thousand equate to the time in my life span that I spend taking a piss; it’s gotta be done and feels good when it’s out there, but it’s not what I want to be getting out of bed for. It was a start, but if I carried on at this pace I would still be writing this thing when some poor sap was having to read my eulogy.

So, what were my options? Kick back and relax, keeping the writing as a hobby and accepting that it would take years to finish OR dive on in; brew the coffee, up the word count, cancel my evening plans! I’m going to be a novelist damnit! I won’t say I went full into option 2 territory (it’s going to take a lot more than the promise of a finished book to pull me away from a night of cocktails), but I definitely upped my time writing. I set myself a target of 4,500 words a week and cracked on, setting time aside a few days a week to get it done. Easy, right? I stupidly thought again. WRONG AGAIN! Turns out, when you’re just starting, even 500 words takes up a WHOLE HOUR of your life. A whole goddamn hour?! That’s loads! That’s more than an entire extra episode of Supernatural to add to the binge watch (No spoilers please, I came late to the game, only on Season 9 so far, though not through want of trying). But I faithfully trudged on, totting up my word count and it did get easier. Not by a lot, but now I can do between 700 and 800 words an hour. It turns out a lot of it is practice. And about 2 months in I’m still going strong, with a word count of 42,000 under my belt. Pretty nice. But even now I’ll have good days and bad days. I did three days on the trot of managing 3,000 per day (still not quite sure how!), but after that I don’t think I wrote for the rest of the week. My head was just mush. I needed a break.

Writing’s a lot harder than people give it credit for (and I know because as I mentioned I was Jezing all over the place with my mockery). You have to deliberate over every word and every decision and that is tiring as fuck. That is so horribly draining. And on top of that the worst thing I’ve found is I keep getting bored of my own goddamn story! How in the shit dicks does that even happen?! I like my story and I love my characters but after 5 hours with the same people, man do I need a break. Also because it takes longer than I expect to write a scene I easily get bored of it. The amount of times I’ve turned to Chris (fiance) and exclaimed how boring a part of my story is, is absolutely outrageous. And each time he has read it and loved it. But that’s because it took him ten minutes to read it while it took me ten hours to write it. Things get boring when you’re stuck with them for that long (obviously not Supernatural but that’s the weird exception to the rule). And that’s fine. Sometimes you just need a break for a day or two and can come back to it like an old friend, sometimes you need someone to tell you it’s not shit so you can plow on, ignoring that inner voice inside of you that tells you you’re useless and shit and should give up now (Hello history GCSE flashback).

But essentially what I’m trying to say with this post is that you need to give yourself some slack and not dive into hideously unrealistic targets. Writing takes longer than most people would guess and a hell of a lot more brain power. So ease up, dunk that digestive into your tea and tell that 20,000 words a week ambition to fuck right off. You got this!

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