Have you had “publish a novel” on your bucket list for years? Well, this is your year! If you’re wondering how long does it take to write a book, know that this goal is a lot more achievable than you may think!
Table of contents
- How long does it take the average person to write a book?
- Factors that affect an author’s writing schedule
- 6 Tips to successfully finish writing your book
- How to write a book faster than you plan
- Expert tip: Faster doesn’t always mean better
- Example of a writing schedule
- How long should it take to write a 300-page book?
- How many years did it take J. K. Rowling to write Harry Potter?
- Is it possible to write 100 pages in a day?
- How many pages make a book?
- What should your book writing deadline be?
- Articles related to how long it takes to write a book
- You CAN write a book that’s worth reading in less than a year!
Yes, writing a book requires dedication and hard work. But like your other big goals, you can see it through if you stay focused and put the work in—and it may not take as long as you think!
Here’s a guide to your burning question: How long does it take to write a book?
How long does it take the average person to write a book?
How long it takes the average person to write a book is different for everyone.
For example, Stephen King famously said in his book On Writing that he can produce a draft in just three months. Well, we aren’t all Stephen King, are we?
But don’t despair! It took George Orwell a full year to write his famous book, 1984.
To figure out how long it takes to write a book, first consider that the average novel is between 200 and 300 pages with 275 words per page. (That’s book pages—not computer pages.)
So, if you want to write a 250-page book (i.e., 68,750 words) and you write 500 words a day, then you would finish your book in 137 days or 4.5 months.
Realistically, not everyone can or even wants to work on writing their book seven days a week, so here are some alternatives (for a 250-page book):
- If you write 500 words a day, five days a week, you will finish your book in nearly seven months.
- If you write 500 words a day, three days a week, you will finish your book in nearly a year.
Factors that affect an author’s writing schedule
Naturally, there are a lot more factors at play than just how many days per week you write when you’re trying to figure out how long to write a book for.
You also must consider the genre of your book, as different genres require different amounts of research and often have different final word counts.
For example, a 250-page romance novel typically requires less time and research than a 300-page science fiction novel or a 270-page historical fiction novel.
Your typing speed is also important in determining the time it will take to write a book. Five hundred words written by hand, for instance, takes most people much longer than 500 words typed. But believe it or not, there are still some writers who prefer writing by hand.
Finally, your experience level matters, too. Again, experienced writers like Stephen King (who has authored 60+ books) can usually produce a first draft in a shorter period because they simply have spent more time honing their craft.
6 Tips to successfully finish writing your book
While experience is important in estimating how long to write a book, it’s not everything! Even if you’re working on your very first book, you can still finish the first draft in less than a year.
To do so, you need to come up with a plan—and stick to it.
1. Set writing deadlines for yourself
This is the first step in getting yourself on track to finish your book draft—and the most important one!
Setting a deadline to write your draft will help keep you focused, may help you from getting overwhelmed or getting writers burnout, and, above all, keep you accountable.
But don’t hide these deadlines away in your notes app or somewhere else you can easily forget to check. Instead, put them front and center in your daily life planner so you can monitor your progress throughout the week.
Determine your writing speed to create deadlines
To set a reasonable deadline that makes sense for you as a writer, you first need to know your writing speed.
If you don’t already know how many words you can reliably write in a day, try this exercise:
- Over a few days, challenge yourself to sit down and write a few good-quality pages every day.
- Use a stopwatch to time yourself as you write.
- Stop writing whenever you feel like you’ve done enough.
- After three to four days, review your passages.
- How many words is each passage? How long did it take you to write each passage?
- Find the average word count of all passages to determine your ideal daily writing target.
Once you know how many words you can reasonably produce in a day (and about how long it will take you to do it on average), you can set deadlines for yourself to bring your draft to the finish line.
For example, if your target is to write 400 words a day, you may set deadlines like:
- “I will write 8,000 words by the end of the month.”
- “I will write 1,200 words by the end of the week.”
- “I will write 24,000 words by the end of three months.”
Look out for any conflicts in your calendar
Creating milestone deadlines will help you stay on track so you can finish your first draft in under a year. But remember to stay realistic with your writing routine.
No matter how focused you are on your book, life happens. If you have a full-time day job or children or just any other plans, sometimes obstacles may come up. That’s okay, but you can also try to plan in advance so you don’t get thrown off your writing schedule.
For example, if you have a week-long vacation planned in the middle of August and you don’t intend to write during your vacation, take it out of your writing schedule.
Give yourself a week to rest and recharge—without the “Write 2,000 words this week” post-it stuck in your calendar, making you feel guilty. This way, you’ll get back to your writing desk after vacation right on schedule—instead of feeling like you fell behind.
2. Stick to a daily writing schedule
There’s one big secret to success that many people choose to overlook: You need to be disciplined.
One way to improve your self-discipline is by creating a daily writing schedule.
But don’t just write down “Work on book today” in your calendar. Instead, get specific by listing out which tasks you’ll work on each day. This will help you stay focused and energized—instead of just sitting down to a blank screen and hoping inspiration will strike.
Beyond specifying daily tasks, include specific times in your writing schedule, too. This will help you stay on the ball and kick procrastination in the butt.
After all, it’s much easier to commit to “Write the introduction to Chapter 4 at 3:30 PM” than to “Work on the book today.”
3. Write an outline
When you’re feeling inspired and have a new idea for a book, it’s easy to sit down and just start typing away. But while this is definitely good to get the creative juices flowing, it’s not always the best method for seeing that first draft through to the end.
Instead, remember to start writing a book outline—and build this into your schedule.
Give yourself enough time to create an outline of your idea, tracing the main story arc, character development, etc. Best of all, the more detailed your outline is, the more organized your ideas will be, and the easier it will be to flush it out into prose.
4. Find your writing zone
To help you get the most out of your writing time and stay focused in front of the computer, take the time to discover your ideal writing conditions and the best places to write.
For example, some people need total silence while they’re at work, while others prefer a little background noise.
As you get started, try changing up your location to see where you’re most productive, such as at home, at a library, at a cafe, at a coworking space, etc.
We can’t be productive every day of the week, but identifying what helps you focus can go a long way in shortening how long it takes to write your book.
5. Determine your best time of day to write
Part of knowing how long does it take to write a book for you is knowing when to write.
When is your brain feeling fired up and ready to go? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Or perhaps you’re something in between.
A big part of determining your ideal writing conditions is figuring out what time of day you enjoy writing. Of course, no one will hold you to this—you can change it up throughout the week. But nailing down a good time that fits in your schedule will help you write with a clear mind and fight off procrastination.
For example, are you daunted by the idea of waking up early before your day job to work on your novel? Smart scheduling can alleviate the pain.
If you plan three writing sessions per week, with one on the weekend, then you only need two early mornings per week to get your novel done.
6. Set word count goals and page count goals
One way to stay motivated when the going gets tough is to set (achievable) goals for yourself. After all, who doesn’t like the feeling of crossing a big item off their to-do list?
Plus, if you want to write a 70,000-word novel and you’re currently at Word 0, things can feel pretty discouraging. So break up that number and book word count with goals like:
- “At the end of the week, I will have written 2,000 words.”
- “At the end of the month, I will have written 30 pages.”
- “At the end of February, I will have finished one-quarter of my book.”
How to write a book faster than you plan
Believe it or not, writing a book doesn’t have to be a years-long battle.
Instead, you can manageably finish your first draft in just a few months.
Creating a schedule of all your future writing sessions is the first step in completing your draft on time. But what if you want to see results faster?
These tips can help you speed up your writing so you can get more words down on paper every day.
1. Write more often
Sounds simple, right? But implementing this tip will ultimately make the biggest difference in helping you finish your first draft.
Suppose you originally set a schedule to write 500 words three days a week. After working for a few weeks, you find that everything is going well and you don’t feel too busy during the week.
Great news! Try adding one or two writing sessions to your schedule.
With just one more writing session per week, you can up your monthly total by 2,000 words. This could shave tons of time off your schedule!
2. Get a writing partner
Struggling with procrastination? This tip will help you determine how long does it take to write a book.
Consider working with an accountability partner or writing partner. By telling someone about your writing schedule, you add a healthy dose of pressure, which can help you keep focused and on track with your writing.
If you’re not ready to share your plans of writing a book with family members or friends, then try turning to online writing groups. After all, they know exactly what you’re going through!
For extra pressure to help you stay focused, you can even schedule regular check-ins with your writing partner, where you each share how much you’ve written that week.
See more tips on how to overcome procrastination so you can finish your book draft on schedule.
3. Raise the stakes
For another way to add a little pressure to your writing schedule, consider pre-paying for marketing services to promote your finished book.
Of course, this strategy is definitely high stakes (and it requires some cash up-front), so it’s not for everyone. If you find that you perform worse under pressure, then maybe turn to an accountability partner instead for a little external pressure.
If, however, you thrive under pressure, this could be just the kick in the pants you need to get writing.
4. Make writing a habit
Even if your writing schedule doesn’t commit you to 500 words per day, it’s still a good idea to challenge yourself to write something every day.
For example, you can respond to personal creative journaling prompts or try other short creative writing exercises.
The important thing is to make writing a daily habit so that it’s less of a chore and more like second nature to pick up a pen for an hour every day. Making writing a habit is one of the best tools for writers, after all.
5. Prioritize writing in your day
Beyond making it a daily habit, if you’re serious about finishing the first draft of your novel, then you need to make writing a priority.
After all, you don’t get something for nothing. If you want to achieve a big goal, then you need to work for it. This means turning down other activities to write sometimes—even if it isn’t always fun.
For example, you might decide to forgo watching a movie with your partner on Sunday because you want to wake up early Monday morning to write before work.
Since there’s no one there to chastise you for not writing on Monday and no immediate consequences, it can be easy to slack off. The good news is that prioritizing writing becomes easier the more you do it.
6. Set writing challenges for yourself
If you need to spice up your daily routine to help keep you motivated, try creating different challenges for yourself.
For example, once a week, try to write 200 more words than usual, or whatever amount you want. Or you could challenge yourself to share your writing with a friend at the end of the week.
Don’t worry about doing challenges during every writing session. Not only will this change your entire writing schedule, but you’re likely to get writer’s burnout after a while.
Instead, challenge yourself to push the limits just every week or so, so you can up your word count—and finish your first draft faster—without putting too much pressure on yourself.
7. Build in rewards for yourself, too
As you challenge yourself during your writing sessions, don’t forget to reward yourself, too! Part of the answer to how long to write a book lies in rewarding yourself.
For example, let’s say you’ve been waking up on weekend mornings to write. When you finish one-quarter of your draft, let yourself sleep in on Sunday and take yourself to brunch and a manicure. You deserve it!
Then, get back to working weekend mornings again until you finish the entire first draft (and you can reward yourself again).
Rewarding yourself throughout your writing schedule is like putting a carrot at the end of the stick so you stay motivated to keep writing. Plus, reaching your goals (and reaping the sweet rewards) is positive reinforcement that encourages you to keep working towards your bigger writing goals.
8. Get rid of distractions
Distractions are among the major killers of progress when you’re working towards achieving your book writing goal. So nip them in the bud before they can strike!
Not allowing distractions is part of answering the question, how long does it take to write a book? When you begin a writing session:
- Close all unneeded browser tabs
- Tell your family that this is your writing time and ask them not to disturb you if possible
- Turn off your phone
Trust us—not pausing to check your phone for messages every two minutes will go a long way in helping you stay focused and write more.
9. Save editing for the second draft
It may seem counterintuitive, but editing as you write actually slows down your final time to completion.
For example, every time you pause to fuss over just the perfect adjective to describe the color of the sunset, you lose momentum.
At the end of the day, this is just a first draft, so nothing needs to be perfect. Rather, it’s better to get the first draft DONE and then go back to learn how to edit a book at another time.
9. Leverage the right tools
No, we’re not saying use ChatGPT to write your book draft faster! But there are different tools for writers you can leverage to help you speed up your progress.
For instance, some writers are big fans of writing software. Others, meanwhile, turn to dictation tools to help them get their ideas down faster. Try out different writing tools and use what helps you the most.
Expert tip: Faster doesn’t always mean betterIt’s easy to get carried away setting word count and page count goals for yourself. And while the short-term goal is to write the first draft of your book as fast as possible, don’t forget the long-term goal: to write a high-quality book.
In other words, do not sacrifice quality for speed. So if you set a goal to write 500 words a day, five days a week, but you find that you’re struggling … it’s okay! Try scaling back to just four writing sessions a week or only 300 words per writing session.
It’s okay to reach your goal a little more slowly than planned. After all, you want to produce quality writing—not writing just for the sake of it.
Example of a writing schedule
It’s important to remember that everyone’s writing schedule is going to look a little different. Some of the many different factors at play include:
- the genre of your book
- how much research you have to do
- your work-life balance
- your family responsibilities
- your daily book word count and page count goals
Here’s an example of a writing schedule:
Suppose you decide to write 500 words per day, which you know takes you about one hour to write. Your goal is to write a 250-page book. (Remember, that’s about 68,750 words.)
- First, you decide how many days per week you will write: four.
- Next, you pick the best days/times of the week for you:
- 1 hour on Sunday morning
- 1 hour on Monday night
- 1 hour on Wednesday morning
- 1 hour on Thursday night
- Finally, mark this schedule in your calendar.
Pro tip: Don’t hide this schedule away in a separate “writing” calendar that you could easily forget about!
Instead, book these times in your daily calendar right alongside work and personal appointments so you always remember to hold yourself accountable.
How long should it take to write a 300-page book?
How long it should take to write a 300-page book depends on you, but on average, a 300-page book can be written in four to eight months.
That said, everyone writes at a different rate, and remember that there is no “should.” There are also other factors at play, like genre and time for research.
How many years did it take J. K. Rowling to write Harry Potter?
It took J.K. Rowling 17 years to finish the entire series of Harry Potter.
Rowling is now a multi-millionaire, but that success did NOT happen overnight. She worked hard for many years and created a great story.
Is it possible to write 100 pages in a day?
It is nearly impossible to write 100 pages in an 8-hour workday, but you don’t need to do this to succeed.
The typical book page contains 275 words, so 100 pages contain about 27,500 words. If you are able to write 500 words in an hour (which isn’t an easy number to achieve, by the way), it would take you 55 hours to write 100 pages.
While setting goals is an important part of the writing process, don’t worry about setting arbitrary goals like writing 100 pages in a day.
How many pages make a book?
The average length of pages to make a book is anywhere between 200 and 400 pages. Of course, this number varies widely by genre.
To get an idea of the average book length for your desired genre, try this trick: Start by searching for popular books in your genre on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Then check out the lengths of the top 10 books by scrolling down and reading each book’s description. Finally, Calculate the average to give you an idea of the industry standard.
What should your book writing deadline be?
Your book writing deadline should be a timeline that makes sense for your schedule and writing speed, but on average, a first draft can reasonably be finished between four and eight months.
While Stephen King says he can finish a first draft in three months, other authors take much longer, even years. See, the book-writing process is different for everyone!
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You CAN write a book that’s worth reading in less than a year!
How long have you been dreaming of writing a novel? Now you have the answer to “How long does it take to write a book?”
Whether this was a childhood dream or a new book idea that just struck you, know that completing the draft for your first book this year IS possible.
With the right planning and discipline, you may even be surprised by just how quickly you can finish your book. For more help bringing your book to life, subscribe to our newsletter for writing tips, inspiration and more!