How Long Does it Take to Write a Novel?

Embarking on the journey of writing a novel is a thrilling endeavor that often sparks questions about the time investment required. Aspiring authors, eager to dive into the creative process, frequently wonder: How long does it take to write a novel?

In this exploration, we unravel the various factors influencing the timeline of novel writing, offering insights to both new and seasoned writers.

Starting Your Novel

Understanding the Creative Process

Commencing the novel-writing journey begins with understanding the intricacies of the creative process. Every author’s experience is unique, influenced by factors such as inspiration, motivation, and the complexity of the chosen narrative. Some writers find that ideas flow effortlessly, while others may grapple with the initial stages. If you’re having trouble getting started, we recommend outlining your novel. Either way, acknowledging and embracing the diversity of creative processes is the first step toward realizing the time investment required.

Setting Realistic Goals

Establishing realistic goals is crucial when embarking on the novel-writing adventure. While it’s tempting to set ambitious deadlines, it’s equally important to recognize the need for flexibility. Novels vary widely in length, style, and complexity, making it essential to tailor goals to the specific demands of the project. Setting achievable milestones ensures steady progress and mitigates the risk of burnout.

Learn More: Self-Care Tips for Writers

Finding Your Writing Rhythm

Discovering a writing rhythm that aligns with personal preferences and lifestyle is instrumental in maintaining consistency. Some writers thrive with a disciplined daily routine, while others may prefer sporadic bursts of creativity. Experimenting with different schedules and environments allows authors to identify the approach that maximizes productivity and minimizes writer’s block. Establishing a rhythm that suits individual preferences is a key element in determining the overall timeline of novel writing.

Writing The First Draft

1. Committing to the First Draft

The initial draft marks a significant phase in the novel-writing process. Authors often encounter a range of emotions, from excitement to self-doubt, as they bring their ideas to life. The duration of the first draft varies widely based on factors such as writing speed, consistency, and the level of detail incorporated. While some authors complete the first draft swiftly, others may take their time, refining each sentence before moving forward.

2. Overcoming Challenges

Navigating challenges during the first draft is inevitable. Writer’s block, plot inconsistencies, or character development issues may arise, necessitating careful consideration and potential revisions. Authors should approach these challenges as integral parts of the creative process, embracing the opportunity to enhance the depth and coherence of their narratives.

3. Editing and Revising

Once the first draft is complete, the focus shifts to editing and revising. This phase is critical for refining the narrative structure, enhancing character arcs, and polishing prose. The time invested in editing varies based on the extent of revisions required. Some authors may go through multiple drafts, while others may require minimal adjustments. A meticulous approach to editing contributes significantly to the overall quality of the novel.

Learn more about revising your writing here.

Factors Influencing How Long it Takes to Write a Novel

Genre and Complexity

The genre and complexity of the novel significantly impact the time required for completion. While a straightforward narrative in a familiar genre may progress swiftly, intricate plots or genres demanding extensive research necessitate additional time and attention. Authors should be aware of these factors when estimating the overall timeline.

Related: Average Novel Word Count

External Commitments

Writers often balance their creative pursuits with external commitments, such as work, family, or education. Understanding the impact of these commitments on available writing time is crucial. While some authors dedicate entire days to writing, others may only find pockets of time amidst a busy schedule. Finding a balance that accommodates your daily life commitments is key to consistent progress.

Level of Writing Experience

The level of writing experience also plays a role in determining how long it takes to write a novel. Seasoned authors will navigate the process more efficiently, drawing on their familiarity with story structure, character development, and pacing. Novice writers, on the other hand, may require additional time to hone their craft and find their narrative voice.

If you are a new novelist, explore our resource on Somebody Wanted But So Then, a useful and simple writing structure.

How to Track Your Writing Time

There are a few ways you can track your writing time. Tracking your time spent writing will make it easier for you to gauge your progress on future projects and help you to set realistic deadlines.

  • Use a simple spreadsheet to track your minutes and hours
  • Use a novel-writing tool like Scrivener (they have a built-in timer)


The journey of writing a novel is a dynamic and highly individualized process. While some authors may complete their novels swiftly, others may embrace a more deliberate pace. Understanding the intricacies of the creative process, setting realistic goals, and navigating the challenges that arise contribute to a fulfilling and successful novel-writing experience.

Ultimately, the time invested in writing a novel is a reflection of the author’s unique journey and the creative commitment they bring to their craft. Plus, writing the novel is just the first piece in the long and winding journey of publishing.

Have you written a short story you’re excited about? Learn more about our short story submissions.

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