How Fast Do You Write?

I’ve been hearing stories in the last year about people who “write a book” in lightning fast times. Three months. Two months. Two weeks. Ten days. Seven days. To which my reaction is always: ?!!??!!

From idea to drafting to revision(s) to completion, the time it takes me to write a book is more easily measured by a unit of years. And before I heard all these stories, I thought this was completely normal. After comparing my process to other writers’, however, I would feel badly. Like something was lacking in my ability as a writer.

My husband assures me that I’ll write faster with practice. Conventional wisdom advises me to write at my own pace. But then, I realized recently, maybe it’s not one or another. Maybe, like most things in writing, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Over Labor Day weekend, my husband took the kids to his parents’, and I wrote 25,000 words in four days. For me, this was huge. Never had I written such a large amount of words in such a short time before. In addition to a completed rough draft, this “writer’s retreat” gave me something much more valuable – an inkling of how it feels to be one of these lightning-fast writers.

I still have months of hard work remaining before I transform these words into a polished manuscript. One weekend of intense writing isn’t going to change how I write. My pace is my pace. But now, I don’t feel so badly anymore. This weekend showed me that I do have the ability to put words on a page quickly – even if they aren’t the best words in the world.

So, I think the answer is neither to stick your head in the sand, nor is it to wish you could change the way you write. But rather, embrace your own process as a writer, while using other writers’ stories as motivation.

After all, I can’t help the “slow” part of my writing, but maybe I can control the “steady” part. Right?

How fast do you write? What’s the fastest you’ve ever written a book? The slowest? Have you ever compared your process to other writers? How do you deal with feelings of not measuring up?

10 thoughts on “How Fast Do You Write?

  1. Hi there. That 25,000 words you were able to accomplish is awesome! Congrats on that. The shortest time I’ve taken to write a novel is six months and the longest is eighteeen months. Your speed and style are unique to you just as much as the story you put out so don’t stress about comparing those aspects to others who may write faster.

    1. Thanks, Carlene. I’m trying not to compare, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job, but it’s so easy to fall into the trap when things aren’t going well!

  2. I agree with Carlene-Mermaid. Don’t compare – that can take you to a non-glittery place.

    But if you do want to get words out quickly, you know what I hear helps? Setting goals with your other writing friends. Especially gorgeous, talented, creative, amazing, well-accessorized friends. Like a 10K in a week challenge. Smoochies and congrats on the 25,000 words! 😉

    1. Agreed, Kerri-mermaid! Smoochies right back at you. I don’t know if I would have embarked on the 25,000 word journey if it weren’t for you, so thank you for that!

  3. Yep. No comparing because I don’t even what to go there regarding one of my stories…but you do have a supportive hubby there…how considerate of him to allow you that entire weekend. Sigh…I want one of him:)

    1. Thanks, Denny! I think my hubby is pretty great, too! Anytime you want to commiserate and “not compare,” you know where to look!

  4. 25K – awesome!

    I think your hubby is right – you’ll get faster with practice. Maybe you won’t be a consistent 25K in 4 days kind of writer but you’ll learn your process, get in your groove and you’ll hit your own stride. Don’t compare yourself – it will make you crazy.

    My first book took a year. My second 8 month and my third 5 months. I’m shooting for 3 months with this one. we’ll see!

  5. Thanks for sharing your progress. Dropping from 1 year to 5 months to hopefully 3 months is pretty impressive and very inspiring! Best of luck with the three-month deadline!

  6. Wow Pintip, 25k in a weekend is impressive! I’m so proud of you!

    I try not to compare myself or any other writers. I wish I could crank out books like Nora Roberts but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Instead I try to set realistic goals for myself each week and even those often change depending on my calendar. The most I’ve ever written was like 12k words in a day (it was a long day and I was really on a roll). Most of the time I’m lucky to get more than a 1,000 words written a day because life too often gets in the way. 🙂

  7. Pintip!!! Congrats on that word count! That’s awesome. It took me twenty years to write my first epic love story. LOL. When I finally got back to it after life took me on a different path, I had to rework the whole thing. 🙂
    My next two books took two months a piece. The third one I started and finished for NaNo in a month. I’m not saying it’s great because it most definitely is NOT, but at least the main framework is there and I wrote it. Just like so many successful authors say (Nora and Cherry Adair) “Write the damn book!” You can always revise later.
    That brings me to my current book and status. Yeah. It’s been a lonnnnng time since I’ve successfully written a word. Some might call it a writer’s block. I call it wanting-to-write-a bestseller-and-too-scared-to-disappoint-myself block. LOL. But I’m going to start again. You’ve inspired me. 🙂

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