I’ve been poring over my calendar this week, trying to assess what is realistic for me to achieve for the rest of this year (so far it’s gone WAY too fast!) – I’m half way through one WIP and have just the first few initial chapters and a draft proposal for another – so I’m trying to decide whether I can complete one or both of these projects and keep my sanity (that last bit is optional!).
Going through this process has made me realize just how little I keep track of the time it takes me to actually complete a novel – from initial research and drafts to the final version that is ready to be sent out on submission. My first book probably took about a year and a half, the second a year…the third about the same (although it took much longer before it saw the light of day). One project, however, took almost two years to complete with a great deal of interaction and revision on the question of mythology and backstory with my agent and beta readers. However, beyond this, I can’t say I really know in quantitative terms how much time it takes me to finish a novel.
One of my author friends records her writing time in hour and minute increments so she can quantify just how much time it takes to finish her novels. I’m (sadly) nowhere near as organized and so my estimates are based on little more than cumulative time taken rather than hours actually spent (and let’s face it some days are way more productive than others!).
I know that when under pressure or deadline I can write efficiently and effectively (fear and panic are great motivators )- otherwise, I find (at least at the beginning of a project) a great deal of dithering and second guessing especially over whether I’ve chosen the right book to pursue next (though don’t we always doubt this when we start a project?!). This year, in particular, has involved a lot of uncertainty and second guessing but now (I think) I’ve selected the projects to be finished. The question is, can I do it? Which led me to wonder, how long does it actually take most people to complete a novel? (I guess I’ve only just realized how few people I’ve asked this question).
So this means over to you TKZers…How long on average does it take you to go from the start (rough and horrid) to the end (polished and ready for publication)? Do you keep track of your writing time so you actually know how many hours it takes? And if so, do you then know how this time is divided into drafting that first draft, versus research or revisions and editing? For someone like me, who has frankly never even considered using a time sheet or evaluating how I spend (or don’t spend) my writing time, do you recommend using any time management tools that enable you to (realistically) answer the question – just how long does it really take you to complete a novel?