Those of you who've finished/nearly finished a novel...

(14 Posts)
PenelopeLane Thu 29-May-14 03:06:10

I've finished 2 now. Apart from a few thousand words written years ago, my first novel took 4 months to write (I was on maternity leave at the time). The next two edits took about the same again. But, the novel still needs major work done to it if I am to get it published - I got the manuscript assessed which I found very useful, but having many of its holes pointed out to me really did move the goalposts in terms of feeling done. I haven't touched it for a while now, and still have a lot to do.

I'm on my second edit of my second novel now, and the writing took much longer - about 18 months all up. But, the editing is much easier, and I suspect I'll feel much more 'done' after the second edit than I did after the first novel. I'm also feeling much more confident about sending it out.

I did NaNO for part of my second novel as well (until I gave up blush) and during my editing can really tell which sections were my NaNO sections as they require so much more work.

I hope that helps smile

In between times I've started my third novel as well and am writing even more slowly - partly because I have a toddler and a baby, but also due to having gone through the editing process twice (and generally hating it) I am writing much more carefully.

Greenstone Fri 23-May-14 15:51:09

I've been working on mine since November and am only about halfway through. I work part-time, have a toddler and am pregnant. There's lots of uncertainty and self-flagellation involved and I wish it were coming along in more of a rush instead of piece by piece. Everyone's different and it depends on your circumstances to a certain extent.

Good thread though, and tips welcome for making it to the finish line!

HopefulHamster Mon 12-May-14 11:47:12

I don't think it's helpful for anyone to say 'it takes me this long, so it should take you the same time' - it all depends on a number of factors.

Arguably I've been working on this WIP for seven years. In reality, I got the idea, wrote one chapter, put it down for five years. Then I wrote half of it during November 2012, got burnout, life happened, then wrote the other half in November 2013. I'm just putting the finishing touches on it now, then will do an edit. Has it taken me seven years or more like seven months? I'd argue the latter (nb. during the seven years I have written at least two other full manuscripts).

I know I can write 1k a day fairly regularly. When I've done Nanowrimo I have been able to write more like 2k a day regularly, but it usually leaves me with burnout so bad I can't write at all in Dec and Jan.

You shouldn't use life as an excuse for never writing (ie those people who talk about it but never actually sit at a keyboard and try), but you can, I think, be kind to yourself and realise sometimes it is easier to make the time than during other periods.

For example, when my day job involved writing, I found it hard to do much creative writing. This won't be a problem for some, but for me I just couldn't write 4k-8k of words at work and then do more at home.

However, just to fence sit, it is also important to realise that in most cases you can make time if you really want. I am pregnant and shattered so though I prefer writing at night I've moved it to lunchtimes at work. It's hard to write around children, but it just means you have to make the most of any time you do have.

SOOOOOOO this post has got too long but:

1) I've written around four full-length manuscripts. When the going is good I've written and edited them in under a year - it's just I've had some life stuff get in the way and artificially stretched some projects out. If I was doing it fulltime I think I could do two in a year at a push. Or maybe if I just knew I had a contract instead of doing it for fun now and then smile

2) In the evenings after I've watched TV and had dinner with my husband, we normally retire to different hobbies - I go on my PC and write; he plays console games. Realistically I often nap/procrastinate/web surf instead, but by sitting down every night I know I have the opportunity to do it - it's down to me if I don't. As I mentioned, recently I've started doing lunchtimes instead as I'm tired in the evenings. Setting out any regular time will benefit you, even if it's only enough time to do 200 words a day.

PodPerson Tue 29-Apr-14 10:46:55

I think it's a 'how long is a piece of string' question.

I've finished my first earlier in the year, and it took me five years to write. I'm busy with my second now, and expect it to be completed in the next three months.

First novel took so long because:
1. I was working full time at a horrible job with ridiculous overtime and pressure not to take lunchbreaks, so had to fit it in on the weekend along with small child who turned up in middle of it and..
2. I had to learn how to write a book. My writing wasn't very good at first. I spent a lot of time making mistakes. I had to learn about structure, show vs tell, pacing, description etc.

It also depends on what type of book you're writing. If it requires plenty of outside research, it'll take longer than a short, simple story based on personal experience.

Dwerf Mon 14-Apr-14 00:42:29

I'm a very sporadic writer, and I need a deadline so I do the nano challenge every year. So 50k in 30 days. But I'm not disciplined enough to do it as a career. When I first started the nano, my youngest was a year old and the next youngest 3. I wrote during naptime, and in the evenings.

As for losing intelligence, between the sleep deprivation and the inane day-in-day-out of small kids, it's no wonder the brain hibernates a bit but I don't think you lose it, it's just stored away smile

BigPawsBrown Mon 14-Apr-14 00:27:22

I don't think writing a book should take as long as people think

First draft for me - an hour a day and more at weekends (1,000 words a day) = 80 days

Second draft - a month of moving stuff, cutting stuff, reading it and pondering plot (an hour a day)

Third draft - edit 5 pages a day (an hour or two?), so 40 days

Mid nov to end April is the timescale I worked to, and it's almost done!

excitedmumtobe87 Thu 03-Apr-14 14:43:16

Just finished after three months. That's writing it and rewriting four times. I'm not sure how I did it. Grabbed hours here and there and writing most evenings really... I have a 10 month old and am 7 weeks pregnant so I think I'll put my feet up now. Then probably decide I hate it and rewrite again knowing me!

wholesomemum Sun 26-Jan-14 08:50:52

Strong opinions! I may write for a living but still canny type on an iPad!!

wholesomemum Sun 26-Jan-14 08:50:05

I,'m a professional writer. You should buy a copy of The Artist's Way. It will get you into the habit of free writing, with abandon, so you can quell (or tame) your inner critic. The trick is to splurge it all out in the first craft them go back and rewrite it into something awesome. Most writers do 3-5 hours as day, I do 4 but not atm as DD v tiny. The other trick to ensure you really write it is choose a story that you are deeply, all-consumingly passionate about. Preferably something you already know about and have stroking opinions on...this will see you through the dark times. Good luck!

Pigeonhouse Sun 26-Jan-14 08:36:04

I started mine last March, but had a ten month old and very limited childcare, and periods of illness. I estimate I'll have a full first draft (it's currently very long and will need extreme pruning at the editing stage) in a month or so.

I tell myself I cannot let a small child be my excuse. A close friend has become massively prolific since the birth of her children precisely because the limited time available concentrates her mind.

Don't know if you'll like my answer. After some false starts which took years out of my life (but I don't regret because I was learning) I wrote my recent novel in about 3 months (a few really productive hours a day). Then I spent at least 3 years re-writing, editing, working on plots, characters etc, rewriting, planning to send off and just doing another quick re-write! etc. I'd say it was 4 years in the making.

ninah Fri 10-Jan-14 21:15:00

aha that's a wonderful theory tunip, I like it!

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 10-Jan-14 16:14:55

I'll PM you about the hours - for some reason I feel unaccountably cagey about it.

Don't worry about the mush. Your brain grows when you have kids because of having to learn all the new things (scientific fact. Well, something along those lines) but the effects are mostly masked by lack of sleep, but once you recover from that you'll be as sharp as a new pin.

How old is your youngest? The year I made mega progress on my writing was when my youngest was 3, having been moving forward in fits and starts up to that point.

JohnSnowsTie Fri 10-Jan-14 11:03:53

a) how long has it taken you?

b) how much time did you have to write daily?

Trying to psych myself but to do it this year, although the passion is waning a bit (some might say that's a good reason to knuckle down and see it for the hard work it is rather than waiting for those elusive spurts of enthused creativity).

Am also worried that I've "lost" my intelligence in the last few years since DD1 was born (and have had 2 others since). It's all a bit mushy up there!

Inspiration and pep talks required, please!

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