On Productivity

How much time does it take you to write a book?

I get this question on a regular basis, and it’s not always easy to answer.

A novel of mine generally runs somewhere around 90,000 words.

I can comfortably write 2000 words a day while working the day job, the part time job, and keeping up with the kids. If I’m working, I can get 1000 of that on my lunch hour from time to time. If I’m chasing a deadline, I’ve done as much as 3000-10000 per day, depending on the day and how the story is cooking.

But this assumes you’re talking about the rough draft. I can have an entire rough draft done in 30 days if I really push myself; I’ve done it before. That doesn’t mean it’s polished and ready to turn in, and my brain is truly mush at the end of that time. Which means, of course, that no writing will happen for a couple of weeks after that, because the brain cells need time to recharge. And, if I’ve been pushing that hard, I’ve been spending evenings typing instead of paying attention to the family, and it’s their turn for my attention.

I try not to schedule myself to turn in more than a single novel and a couple of short stories in a year. If I get more than that done, it’s gravy.

But remember, too, that I can’t always write on a daily basis. If The Boy has a soccer game that’s an hour drive away in the evening, I can’t write that night, because we won’t get home until late and will still need to feed everyone. If I have work from my part time job, that has a deadline, that takes precedence. Obviously holidays don’t work, either, and we do have a house with constant, ongoing renovation going on, so work needs done on that, as well.

The short answer? I can write a novel in a month. If it’s to be a good novel, I need a bit longer than that, and that timeline can vary if real life jumps up and bites me.

 

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