Writing a book and the publishing process can be scary for first-time writers. You may dream of writing but think it’s time-consuming, difficult, or even monotonous with all the editing after creating a draft. You have started writing the first chapter but are unsure whether you can finish, even though you’ve thought of a plot and like the idea of getting your work out there.
Have you ever asked yourself — how long does it take to write a book? Knowing the average length of a chapter, whole book, and a typical writing timeline can help ease your mind so that you can unleash your imagination and focus on creating an interesting piece.
First, we’ll cover the basics of starting a book and touch on the average number of pages. Then, we’ll go into details on writing a novel or children’s book and give you tips on writing a book fast.
How Much Time Do You Need to Write a Book
1. How to start writing a book?
You may wonder why starting a book can be hard or scary for so many people. Fear of failure, judgment, and the inability to finish are common obstacles to creating the first chapter. Identifying your fears and finding a deeper motivation will help you both at the beginning and when you hit writer’s block.
Once you map out your idea on paper, writing a book for the first time stops being so scary and can become a challenge. A mind map is an outline that you can use to get started on your first draft.
Next, you should schedule your writing sessions by determining the total number of words, chapters, and words per chapter. For instance, once you know your average time to write 1000 words, you can divide the total time needed into writing sessions and schedule them accordingly.
Once you’ve outlined the idea and set your timing, you’ll need a set of tools, including good writing software, a self-editing tool, and a book formatting tool. These don’t have to be specialized, paid tools. Simply choose what’s ideal for you and your writing process. Tip: some people use dictation software to get their first draft done faster.
2. How long does a book have to be?
The expected length of your book depends on the genre and target audience. Moreover, if you’re a new writer, you may decide on a shorter piece, as a publisher is more likely to accept your manuscript if they don’t have to invest in printing a longer book.
Let’s start with the shortest books you can create — books for kids. The average number of pages in a children’s book depends on their age and reading ability. A children’s picture book is typically 500 to 600 words long. If you’re writing for children who can read independently, aim for 1,000 to 10,000 words. A middle-grade book can have from 20,000 to 50,000 words.
Although writing a children’s book seems like the easiest option, you may prefer writing for adults. You can write a short story of at least 1,000 words, the average being from 5,000 to 10,000 words. The average word count for novellas is 10,000 to 40,000. A young adult novel can address serious topics, ranging from 40,000 to 80,000 words.
A completed novel should have between 80,000 and 100,000 words in about 200 pages if it’s single-spaced or about 400 pages if it’s double-spaced. You should generally use a 12 point font. Word count targets vary by genre. For example, an ideal thriller can have 70,000 to 90,000 words, while romance novels tend to be shorter.
3. How many hours does it take to write a book?
Although it’s possible to sprint through about 120 hours of planning, writing, and editing a book in theory, there are numerous reasons it should be a marathon. Depending on your typing speed, dedication, and focus, you’re most likely to have a 24-hour limit. If you continue to push yourself beyond the reasonable limit, you’ll experience writing burnout, and your personal life will suffer. Therefore, writing a book in a week or less may be a fun challenge if you’re bored, but be ready to quit to keep your sanity once you feel it’s too much.
Unless you’re an established author and do writing for a living, you’ll need to schedule your writing hours realistically. Sometimes, even with the best plan, you’ll find that you need a day or even a week off from writing, so don’t be afraid to pause.
As you can see, the answer to “How long does it take to write a book?” is complex and consists of much more than the number of hours and your typing speed. Your physical and mental health is vital, so don’t just rush to the finish line if you feel burnout or your back or wrists start hurting. You need to find what works for you, as the process is different for everyone. You can write three hours each week only, and you’ll complete a book in less than a year if you stick with it.
4. How long does it take to write a chapter?
To understand how much time you’ll need per chapter, first, you need to consider the average chapter length and your typing speed. There aren’t strict word count rules, but the average chapter should be 1,500 to 5,000 words long. Keep in mind that chapter breaks should help you adjust the pacing and avoid information overload. They also serve to create suspense, keeping your readers engaged throughout the book.
Let’s say you’re writing a novel. The average length of a chapter in a novel ranges between 2,000 and 5,000 words. For instance, if your typing speed is about 50 words per minute, you’ll need 40 minutes to complete a short novel chapter. Of course, this example applies to an ideal day with perfect focus and flow, so don’t stress if it doesn’t go as planned. If you lose the flow, you may need to think more about the plot, rewrite, or make a pause. You can always come back to your chapter later if it’s hard to finish it in one go.
5. How long does it take to write a novel?
Now that you have an idea of how much time you’ll need per chapter, you can start to see the big picture of completing a novel. However, keep in mind that your first long-term goal is finishing your first draft.
You’re likely to need three to six months to finish the draft. We’ve talked about scheduling your writing sessions, calculating the number of words you can type per hour, and the average page count of a novel. Now, let’s dive into more details about writing habits and methods, which can either help you be more efficient or hinder your progress.
Building a habit entails making time for writing consistently. Setting a schedule is essential to avoid getting caught up in other tasks. If you have a habit of delaying writing, it will take a lot longer to complete a novel.
Your writing method may affect your average time to write a book positively or negatively. For instance, if you’re a planner, you’ll do the research, create a synopsis, and develop your characters in advance. If you’re a pantser, you’ll rely on ideas and likely hit creativity blocks, which may make it harder to finish a book.
6. How long does it take to write a fantasy novel?
Starting a fantasy novel may be overwhelming if you consider the length of famous epic fantasy series like The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. However, you don’t have to commit to the whole series from the get-go. You can start with a stand-alone paranormal or young adult fantasy novel.
When it comes to the average length of a fantasy novel, publishers usually look for manuscripts of at least 80,000 words. Some may prefer 95,000 to 150,000-word fantasy novels. Keep in mind that some readers often give up on books they perceive as too long, but some also enjoy immersion in a well-written story and an all-encompassing fantasy world.
Therefore, the timeline for writing a fantasy novel depends on the subgenre, your agents and publishers, your imagination, and your capabilities to create a mesmerizing world.
7. How long does it take to write a children’s book?
(Reedsy Blog, Penguin.co.uk)
While writing for kids is easier and less time-consuming due to the average length of children’s books, you’ll still need to think about the story and adjust it to the appropriate reading level. A picture book may take you one to two weeks. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about illustrating. You can add illustration notes, but finding the illustrator is the publisher’s job.
Writing a children’s book in 30 days is plausible for early reader books. Chapter books may take you up to three months, and middle-grade books from three to six months. As with other book types, planning and mapping out your story can help you avoid wasting time in your writing sessions as well as minimize the subsequent editing time.
8. How long does it take to write a book part-time?
If you’re considering being a full-time author, you should think about whether quitting your day job is possible. However, you can try being a part-time writer without a huge financial risk. Once you accept some disadvantages, such as not being able to dedicate as much time to writing as your full-time colleagues, you can focus on the advantages, including the financial freedom of not having to make a living from writing.
“How long does it take to write a book?” becomes a different question if you can and want to devote yourself to writing part-time. Hour-a-day or once-a-week sessions are common for part-time writers, but If you dedicate yourself to it, your writing sessions can become more consistent, implying that you may often take a shorter time to complete a book.
9. How long does it take to write a book and get it published?
Once your manuscript is complete, publishing is the next step to think about. Depending on various factors, getting your book published can take a while, so patience is important. After all, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your book, so you deserve a successful book launch. Your publisher should be on your side and want the best possible outcome for you.
Depending on the average length of your book, editing may take some time, and so can the printing and distribution. Pay attention to your contract details, but keep in mind that the proposed publication date can be changed. It can be moved either to a later or earlier date, so be patient if some changes occur. The average publishing timeline ranges between nine months and two years unless you’re self-publishing.
10. How to write a book in 30 days?
Many people decide to take up the National Novel Writing Month challenge to see how far they can go. Writing a book in a month is possible, but you need to be ready to quit if you feel your mental health is sinking.
Embracing a new mindset of no pressure and no editing as you go can help immensely. Making sure you can meet your daily and weekly word count goals is a must if you want to write a book in a month. Try to work ahead at the beginning while you’re still energized, as you may feel burnt out near the end of the month. Go all in, and keep going as long as it’s fun for you. Tip: finish each day with a couple of sentences about what the next part will be about, and then let it rest — this will make starting the next day easier.
Knowing the answer to “How long does it take to write a book?” can help alleviate your worries as a new writer. We’ve given you word estimates of various genres and tips on writing faster. You can apply them whether you’re starting a children’s book or a fantasy novel. We’ve touched on the average publishing time and the 30-day book challenge. Regardless of your goals, starting and completing a manuscript is easier with these tips for writing a book.