Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
heather_hangs_it
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by heather_hangs_it » May 6th, 2010, 1:50 pm

Mine feels like it is taking forever, although I'm way behind the 18 month mark. I know what I want to say and do and have my characters say and do, but dagnbabbit, life just keeps getting the better of me! Kids, work, housework, sweeps week and my favorite tv shows, books, movies, my couch, narcolepsy at midnight (most people call this a 'bedtime'). Kudos to you, though, for being finished and into rewrites. You are my new inspiration. Keep plugging away!

~heather

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abc
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by abc » May 6th, 2010, 4:03 pm

Oh boy--the shame! My first draft was done in few months, but the second draft...well, it has been a couple of years since the first draft. Of course I have spent more time thinking about it than working on it. Where is that 2nd wind?

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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by Petronella » May 6th, 2010, 7:26 pm

It's been four years since I began working on my current WIP. Took me a year to write the first draft of some 150,000 words - me being a very sporadic writer. I set the story aside for a year while I wrote a second novel of 150K words to a fifth draft level.

Recently I started a major rewrite of my WIP, so it might be another four years before I finish.

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Mark
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by Mark » May 7th, 2010, 6:37 pm

I'm at the 1.5 month mark and am 20,000 words into a roughly 100,000 word project. I'm fortunate enough to be able to work on the writing full time, and I'm hoping to be done a first draft in another 8 weeks or so.

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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by Erica75 » May 7th, 2010, 7:40 pm

Someone above said they had started a few novels, but never got past 30 pages and I'm in the same boat. My only finished ms was started last July and was more-or-less done with the first draft by the end of the year. I had it 3/4 done by September, but since I'm a teacher (and wife, and mom, and...), my writing slowed down significantly in the fall and went almost stagnant over the winter. I found a couple of people to read my first 3 chapters early this spring (including one I found on this forum) and made some changes they suggested and then did an overhaul of the ending (which I had never really been in love with). A few weeks ago I helped to form a critique group made of 7 wonderful people, including 3 published authors, and a few of them are helping me iron out my problem areas. So, hopefully, within 11 months of starting, it will be out for query. And then the real timeline begins!
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by izanobu » May 8th, 2010, 4:17 am

(I'm de-lurking because this topic is always interesting)

My first novel took me 19 days. I consider it a learning experience and intend to redraft it someday. (65k words)
My second novel took 5 weeks to write (88k words) and about 2 weeks to edit once I had it back from my first readers. It is currently out on submission to publishers.

My work in progress is a middle grade novel, I'm aiming for 40-50k words and intend to have it complete within two weeks, barring how many short stories hijack my brain and demand to be written.

As for how many writers make their living at this, well, if you want to make money, you gotta write and sell books. That means probably writing and selling more than one book a year (or five years).

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Quill
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by Quill » May 8th, 2010, 10:40 am

izanobu wrote:(I'm de-lurking because this topic is always interesting)

My first novel took me 19 days. I consider it a learning experience and intend to redraft it someday. (65k words)
My second novel took 5 weeks to write (88k words) and about 2 weeks to edit once I had it back from my first readers. It is currently out on submission to publishers.

My work in progress is a middle grade novel, I'm aiming for 40-50k words and intend to have it complete within two weeks, barring how many short stories hijack my brain and demand to be written.

As for how many writers make their living at this, well, if you want to make money, you gotta write and sell books. That means probably writing and selling more than one book a year (or five years).
izanobu, you are an incredibly fast writer and re-writer!

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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by Arik » May 8th, 2010, 11:42 am

It took me almost 5 years to complete the first draft (most of my free time when I wasn't trying to teach English to 8th graders or take care of my little daughters). The first draft was almost 200,000 words. I spent a year revising, mostly cutting with a big machete, and got it down to 140,000. Then I was rejected by every single agent I sent it to. I'm pretty sure the book doesn't completely suck, so I'm guessing that the long word-count was at least a part of the reason for the rejections. So for the last four months I've been working on cutting those last 40,000 words so I can try to submit it again once I've got it under 100,000.

So all in all, I've been working on this steadily for six and a half years now. I'm still in love with the story, but DANG I want to finish this stinking thing already!

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J R McLemore
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by J R McLemore » May 8th, 2010, 12:06 pm

The first draft of my first book took me 3 months to write. That was back in 2005. The revisions, on the other hand, have been much much longer. I still have not gotten around to completing it. It weighed in around 85-90k words. I did a full rewrite, a minor edit, and a full line edit. Now, if I can just get my wife to read it and provide me some feedback, that would be great.

In the meantime, I'm working on a southern gothic novel that I began last month. I try to make myself sit down each day and write 1,000 words, except for Sunday, which I take off. As of now, I'm up to 24k, so that's not so bad. I hope to have it finished within the next month.

As for worrying about word count: I try not to dwell too much on that, although I've read countless times that editors are looking for word counts within 80-110k for debut authors. My wife, on the other hand, keeps telling me to just write the story and don't worry with the word count. While I try to adhere to her advice (she's a college English professor), I still have that voice in the back of my head yammering that I need at least 80k. :(

I'd say, don't worry about how long the work takes you. Especially if you haven't yet run out of steam. To me, the dreaded kiss-of-death comes when working on a story feels like a chore instead of something you enjoy doing.
I enjoy writing horror, noir, and crime dramas. Visit my website to read some of my work, http://www.jrmclemore.com.

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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by izanobu » May 8th, 2010, 4:20 pm

Quill- the secret is that I don't really re-write (at least, not how I think many people here do it). I do one clean up draft where I also fix anything that my first readers pointed out. So for the novel out on submission I cleaned up typos and fixed a couple inconsistencies, added a short chapter, and then added about two pages to my epilogue (both things my first readers said I needed that I agreed with). Frankly, and no offense to those that do, I can't imagine spending two or three or ten years working on just one novel. I've read lots of accounts of how many books various authors wrote before the one that first got published and it is usually two or three, sometimes as many as ten or fifteen. If I spend a couple years writing each book, it could be twenty years before I write the one that sells... a book is just a book. I get the story on the page, clean it up, and get it out to someone who can buy it, and then move on. So if that makes me fast, I guess that works for me. I don't feel that fast. I've met a lot of published authors who write a heck of a lot faster than I do :P

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Quill
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by Quill » May 8th, 2010, 5:19 pm

izanobu wrote:Quill- the secret is that I don't really re-write (at least, not how I think many people here do it). I do one clean up draft where I also fix anything that my first readers pointed out. So for the novel out on submission I cleaned up typos and fixed a couple inconsistencies, added a short chapter, and then added about two pages to my epilogue (both things my first readers said I needed that I agreed with). Frankly, and no offense to those that do, I can't imagine spending two or three or ten years working on just one novel. I've read lots of accounts of how many books various authors wrote before the one that first got published and it is usually two or three, sometimes as many as ten or fifteen. If I spend a couple years writing each book, it could be twenty years before I write the one that sells... a book is just a book. I get the story on the page, clean it up, and get it out to someone who can buy it, and then move on. So if that makes me fast, I guess that works for me. I don't feel that fast. I've met a lot of published authors who write a heck of a lot faster than I do :P
I think it is amazing if you can turn out publishable prose with so little revision. Then again, you may be simply saying you would rather write more practice manuscripts than fewer more polished ones. I guess since you have not yet had a novel accepted for publication the question is moot. For sure, though, if I could do less revision and still sell, I would!

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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by izanobu » May 8th, 2010, 5:23 pm

Quill- you'll never know unless you try :) For what it is worth, the only response back on my novel query package (which was query, first 28 pages, and a synopsis) so far has been a request for the full manuscript, so I figure I got something right. But since I intend to have four or five more novels out on submission by the end of the year, it really takes the pressure off selling this particular book. Writing is the only part I have real control over, so that's the part I'm going to do.

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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by r louis scott » May 8th, 2010, 5:47 pm

I have a "finished product" that has taken six years to complete.

That may sound like a lot of time but I also wrote:

* the start of a sequel (about 45K words)
* the start of another book (about 65K words, this one will be a monster)
* six short stories, which I have little hope of ever finding a home for
* about 10-12 short story starts or VERY rough outlines
* a few pages of an idea for another book

Also, given that my writing is historical in nature, I sometimes have to break off for a little research. I write based on my knowledge of the era for the most part, but there are always details that need to be filled in as the story develops. Not too surprisingly, this research sometimes makes me adjust the story to make use of well documented facts or re-write because I can't find information I need.

I guess it's a good thing I don't do this for a living.

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E McD
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by E McD » May 8th, 2010, 7:47 pm

r louis scott wrote:I have a "finished product" that has taken six years to complete.

That may sound like a lot of time but I also wrote:

* the start of a sequel (about 45K words)
* the start of another book (about 65K words, this one will be a monster)
* six short stories, which I have little hope of ever finding a home for
* about 10-12 short story starts or VERY rough outlines
* a few pages of an idea for another book

Also, given that my writing is historical in nature, I sometimes have to break off for a little research. I write based on my knowledge of the era for the most part, but there are always details that need to be filled in as the story develops. Not too surprisingly, this research sometimes makes me adjust the story to make use of well documented facts or re-write because I can't find information I need.

I guess it's a good thing I don't do this for a living.
Well, and then there was that whole cow-raping incident you had to grapple with - one can understand how that took some time to get over. Poor guy. *wink* (Death of the Adverb)
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RichardLevangie
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Re: Time to Fess Up - How Long Is It Taking You?

Post by RichardLevangie » May 9th, 2010, 7:59 am

I started writing a mystery in 1993 just after I developed a inexplicable illness that brought chronic daily migraines to my life. I wrote 25,000 words over a few months before abandoning the project — which, in the end, was just as well. I had thought myself quite clever, but I didn’t realize that it was just a rehashing of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. It was pretty bad, I think.

The migraines settled in for the long haul, and I didn’t write anything of note for more than 13 years, even though I’d once had a promising career writing for newspapers and magazines.

When the migraines stopped in late 2006, I had two terrific ideas for books waiting for me to write them. Unfortunately, enduring 13 years below the poverty line leaves you pretty deeply in debt, so I’ve been forced to take every job that comes along. I put in a lot of late nights, and had only written 20,000 words of the first -- a mystery novel for young teens — when 2009 closed.

In January, my wife and I were finally able to switch around our routines, and I can usually muster three or four hours on most days to write — a development that’s moved the word count to 50,000. It’s a fairly polished first draft, and I hope to finish in another five or six weeks.

It’s in decent shape because I have one luxury; I live with a gifted writer and editor whose been helping me find my voice, and who provides a hard edit on each chapter not long after I write it.

I don’t know how the rest of you — without this advantage — can manage!
It is with the heart that one sees rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
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