How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

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How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby writersink » 02 Apr 2012, 07:33

I'm not asking because I want to know what the "right" length of time for a WIP to be written and written properly is. That is different for everyone, of course. But one of Nathan's blog posts got me thinking. He talked about how he has writing fatigue after finished what feels like the millionth Wonderbar. (I'm going to read the first one! I got as far as the first page before I got to my tube station. I'm loving it so far - it is so Nathan-ified!) Anyway, I remember when he announced he was giving up agenting, and when he announced his book. I'm still on my first WIP (well, not first, first. I've written some before but… you get the idea.)

It has taken me seven years to come up with a good storyline and to wrap my head round the plot. It took me a year and a half to get past the first draft. Another six months to do the second. Three months for the third. I'm on the fourth. This may make me sound as though I have perfection issues, but I really don't. I'm just an incredibly slow writer.

And you know what? I'm proud. At least I haven't given up yet. (Ahem... at least I've ignored countless people telling me I'm a lunatic and that I should get a less stressful hobby, like watching TV.)

So what about you guys? How long does it take for you to do write a draft/finish your little angels?
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby dios4vida » 02 Apr 2012, 08:51

Oy vey.

I started my first novel when I was 19. I'm turning 29 this month, so I'll have been writing for 10 years this summer. (That makes me feel old.) At this moment I'm revising/rewriting my third novel and about 25,000 words into the first draft of my fourth. So while it's not glacially slow, it's pretty close. But then again, I am getting better. My first, I remember, took three or four years to get to the state of "refinement" <sardonic chuckle> that it's in. (Yeah, it's trunked now.) My second took about two or three, though I can't remember exactly. This one that I'm revising has been just over a year, though it's needed a lot more major plot overhauls than my others.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby MattLarkin » 02 Apr 2012, 09:13

Writing a draft takes me about a month, in the case of a normal length novel 70-80k. Refining Children of Sun and Moon took me much longer than that, though. Legacy of Moon and Fire has gone much more quickly, thus far.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Aimée » 02 Apr 2012, 09:15

I've never finished the first draft of a full-length novel. I've finished two novel drafts, but they both topped off at 40,000 words, so I suppose their technically novellas. The first one took about two years, which is quite a long time, though I was writing short stories as well during that time, plus I was still in high school... The second one took only a few months because I was determined to get all the words down while ignoring my internal editor. That was a mistake because the draft is pretty crappy and I've tossed it into the dump drawer...

I've been working on my third novel for the past year and a half, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere at the moment.

So, well, I've never done a second draft off of a finished first one, just ended up discarding the projects once they were finished. I'd say that if I was confident in the story I was trying to tell, the first draft would take about one year to write, but that just hasn't happened for me yet.

I'm a quite slow writer for novels, but short stories on the other hand, well I can pound one of those out in one sitting. :)
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Sleeping Beauty » 02 Apr 2012, 09:17

My first novel took me years. I wrote it over the last year of high school and then throughout university. At some point I must have know that it was unsalvagable, but I kept at it. It became more of a vanity project, I'm sorry to say. It's trunked good and proper now.

Second novel on the other hand, was a horse of a different colour. Took me barely five months from conception to completion. I began it in March last year and had signed with my agent by November. While I let the first project fizzle over a looooong time, I do appreciate the fact that I stuck to my guns and completed it to the best of my ability, because I learned dedication and patience. With the second project, I rediscovered passion and drive. Combine those four qualities and magic happens. :)

But you're absolutely right - there's no right or wrong length of time to complete a novel. But personally, I'd never let a manuscript drag on for years EVER AGAIN.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby writersink » 02 Apr 2012, 09:38

MattLarkin wrote:Writing a draft takes me about a month, in the case of a normal length novel 70-80k.


Mamma Mia!

dios4vida wrote:Oy vey.

I started my first novel when I was 19. I'm turning 29 this month, so I'll have been writing for 10 years this summer. (That makes me feel old.) At this moment I'm revising/rewriting my third novel and about 25,000 words into the first draft of my fourth. So while it's not glacially slow, it's pretty close. But then again, I am getting better. My first, I remember, took three or four years to get to the state of "refinement" <sardonic chuckle> that it's in. (Yeah, it's trunked now.) My second took about two or three, though I can't remember exactly. This one that I'm revising has been just over a year, though it's needed a lot more major plot overhauls than my others.


You must be so proud to be able to say you've stuck at it for so long. You obviously love writing, and the fact that you've not attempted to make your manuscripts bleed like Harry Potter does in the Chamber of Secrets is a good sign. (Er... no. I've never tried doing that. I haven't. No, really. ;) And 29 is not old. The "Friends" seem to have a fun time :)

Although, I did hear that Enid Blyton (Famous Five and stuff) wrote a novel in a week! True, it must have been about 40,000 words, because she mainly does younger children's stuff, but still. :!:
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby MattLarkin » 02 Apr 2012, 11:20

writersink wrote:
MattLarkin wrote:Writing a draft takes me about a month, in the case of a normal length novel 70-80k.


Mamma Mia!


It's actually not that hard if you really sit down and decide it's what you're going to do. Now, actually getting CoSaM into the format that was published, I spent almost four years on that.

The main thing, though, is to enjoy what you're doing. Way more important than how fast you can write.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby HillaryJ » 02 Apr 2012, 11:53

My first drafts take between one and six months. One month for a short novel (around 65K) in a world in which I've already worked. Six months for a new concept, aiming for a final product of around 90K words.

Mind you, these are bare-bones drafts, and the concepts usually percolate in my head for a few months to years before I start writing them. Revisions, depending on how well the first draft succeeded, can take between a month and, well, years. :)
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby CharleeVale » 02 Apr 2012, 12:56

It greatly depends on my school schedule. My last novel took 6 months for the first draft, but that was because during school, I literally didn't have time to write anything. Most of the drafting was actually done in about a 3-4 week period in the Summer. My revisions for that took about 3 weeks, and I was working on them every day for 3-4 hours.

I've set that one aside for the moment to pick up a new idea. I've got about 6,000 words written, which I wrote in 2 days. I guess I've just learned to pump the words out when I do have time because I have so little of it.

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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Mira » 02 Apr 2012, 20:15

It took me 10 years to write a SHORT STORY.

But I like the story I finally wrote.

It takes as long as it takes. Can't rush boiling water. That's my motto. :D

I would try not to worry about it. You're writing a different book than Nathan is, and Nathan could not write your book quickly. He can only write his books.

Everyone is different and maybe your muse just needs time. Maybe you're reaching into new places inside you. That can be a good thing. :)
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Cookie » 02 Apr 2012, 20:17

My first drafts take about a year. Sometimes shorter. However, editing and revising them take a lot longer. I think my average is about 3 years from the first words to the final draft.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Mark.W.Carson » 03 Apr 2012, 07:48

Well, you know how long mine is taking. I started at the end of May of 2011, and i am going back to formula once again. From what I can guess, you are done when you are done, sadly. I have tried to impose a 1yr deadline on my work to get it ready for editing with a few months before querying, but that's not likely. Maybe February of 2013 for that, who knows.

I will say this, I am finding that if it doesn't "FEEL" right, it isn't.

You'll know when it is ready, if even from how people react to it when they read it.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Rachel Ventura » 06 Apr 2012, 16:41

I just finished a first draft, for the first time. :D ~52K words. Keeping track of general statistics helped motivate me; on a little piece of scrap paper I wrote the chapter, the date, and the word count for that chapter. I started on March 11th and ended this afternoon. Not sure how long it'll take me to edit, though; I still have to print, and I plan on socking it away for a little while as is the standard advice. :)

I didn't bother outlining or writing synopses or descriptions beforehand; I just sat down and wrote, keeping in mind Hemingway's quote about the first draft of anything being sh!t, and wrote all the way through, a chapter for each session, and only one chapter that particular day so as not to avoid burnout (I didn't write every day consecutively). I don't think it's entirely sh!t, but rough, as it ought to be in this stage. And it's personally motivating for me to prove to myself that I can actually do something like this, to sit and progress through a large work for an extended period of time. (I'm not in school or working or anything, so there isn't much I do for most of the day anyway. And actually, having no life or "IRL" friends has been a great boon to me as a writer.) ;) But in the meanwhile I think I may work on some character descriptions and a general synopsis of how I want it to be, to run a check against the draft and adjust accordingly. I'm also going to print out Nathan's editing checklist from the FAQ section on the blog.

And as is well known about me... I'm not even going to think about FB/Twitter/blogging until I'm ABSOLUTELY ready to promote. I'd like to have a backup stack of completed projects behind me, because once I get to the time-consuming social media bit I probably won't have the time or mindset to write stories anymore. (And I actually think it's people that wear me down. Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking is on my TBR list because I know in my heart I'm an introvert and a wallflower who'd rather sing in my own head than toot my own horn.) ;)
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby MattLarkin » 07 Apr 2012, 08:02

mark54g wrote:
I will say this, I am finding that if it doesn't "FEEL" right, it isn't.

Almost always true. It can sometimes be important to step back, though. Sometimes I start feeling something I wrote isn't working. Then I take a month off, re-read, and find, wait, that flows pretty well afterall.
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Re: How long do you take to finish a draft/ WIP?

Postby Mark.W.Carson » 07 Apr 2012, 10:15

Understood, but then again, you wrote a book, and I'm on a rewrite :).

My point was, for a long time, I was writing a story I didn't want to write, and I was doing it because I was using THAT story to set up the story I wanted to write. I think I did it because I was not creative or experienced enough to know where I should start.

Because of that, I had to cut about 7 chapters from my story, start over, change the perspective, the voice, and begin in the middle of where I wanted to be, albeit with a short prologue (almost 2 pages).

If you are writing something, not just a section that is iffy, and doesn't work and just feels WRONG, to the point where you keep thinking about it, then it is just wrong. The story is yours to tell, but it is telling you what it doesn't like.
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