How long should it take to write a novel?

Hi everyone.

If you’re at all like me, you alternate between “good” writing days (you know, where you actually get some writing done), and “bad” writing days (all those other days where you barely string two sentences together before deleting them anyway).

So I wondered what other writers’ creative flow looked like.

Here are a few of the most famous works of fiction along with how much time the authors spent writing them.

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne.  Published in 2006, the movie based on it came out in 2008. Boyne finished the first draft in 2.5 days. 
  2. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Originally published in 1954. It took Tolkien 16 years to finish it.
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K.), by J.K. Rowling. Published in the U.S. in 1998, it took Rowling 6 years to complete it.
  4. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. First book in the fantasy series, A Song of Fire and Ice. It was published in 1996 and it took Martin 5 years to write it.
  5. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley. Published on January 1, 1818, it took her a year to write it.
  6. IT, by Stephen King.  Published in 1986. King says it was first conceived of in 1978, but that he didn’t start writing it until 1981. It was finished in 1985.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Published in 1960. It took Lee 2.5 years to complete it. 
  8. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. Published in 2005. Meyer wrote it in 3 months.
  9. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Published in 1843. Dickens completed it in 6 weeks.
  10. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Published in 1886, Stevenson knocked this out in 6 days.        So there you go.

We now know it takes anywhere from 2 and a half days to 16 years to finish something worth reading.

I feel better already. Don’t you?

Does knowing how long it took some of your favorite authors to write their novels help, or hurt?

Let me know in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!