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How Much Time Does it Take to Write a Book?

Your Book Writing Coach Lisa Tener
Your Book Writing Coach Lisa Tener

An aspiring author recently called me to explore writing coaching to help him write his book. He wondered about hiring a ghostwriter. Generally, I’m all about writing your book yourself. I’ve met too many people who’ve hired ghostwriters and been disappointed.

And most relatively smart people can develop an engaging (or even compelling) style and find their authentic voice as a writer by learning a few important skills with the help of a writing coach or editor. The only reasons to hire a ghostwriter is if you’ve gotten solid expert help and you still can’t write or you just don’t have the time.

This person didn’t have much time. His question was critical. Could he find the time to write his book?

enjoy-writing

It can take years to write a book and I know people who’ve written books in a manner of weeks. In my book writing classes, some students have a first draft within eight or ten weeks. Some never finish at all; others can take months to write their book.

Writing a book as quickly as eight weeks assumes that either you don’t need to do much research for the book, or you write your first draft without doing much research and then you do the research afterward (or have someone else do some of the research for you).

You’ll write faster (and you’ll write a better book)  if you spend time before the writing to clarify your goals in writing a book, the audience or market for the book, the book concept, including features, tone, how the book fits in with what’s currently out there, and the outline of your book.

How fast you write a book also depends on how much time you commit per week. However, just because you devote yourself full time to writing doesn’t mean you’ll have your book any sooner than someone who has a full time job. Sometimes the people with demanding jobs are the best at making the most of the 30 or 90 minutes a day they devote to writing a book.

While I can’t tell you how long it will take you to write your book, I do know that those who consistently make writing appointments in their calendars and hold themselves to it (often with the support of a writing buddy, book coach or a book writing class) can often predict, after a few weeks, how soon they’ll have a first draft.

This proud author wrote his book in record time. And he swears he didn't hire a ghostwriter.
This proud author wrote his book in record time. And he swears he didn't hire a ghostwriter.

If you’re wondering how long it will take to write a book, I suggest you spend time to clarify the market and book concept, outline the book and then write for two to three weeks. Be consistent about your weekly commitment and see how much you accomplish in that time. At that point you should be able to project how long it will take you to complete writing your book.

If, in that time, you get little accomplished, you’ll also realize it’s a good idea to reach out for more help in whatever form works best for you–writing buddy, writing group at a local library, a book writing class, an editor or a writing coach.

Just get started and your answer will become clearer. And, at some point, you’ll know exactly how long it takes to write your book–you’ll be holding that book in your hands.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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