How Long Should It Take To Finish A Novel?

While writing my novel, today I realized that I’ve been working on my first draft for almost a year now (April 11th is my anniversary…write-iversary? I don’t know…). I feel I’m near the end of my second act, hopefully getting closer to the climax and resolution (but it’s like pulling teeth, I swear!). I ended up wondering about some of the professional novelists right now who bust out novels every year or two years, which put me in a weird, hypothetical shock. What if I publish my novel, it turns out to have decent feedback with expectancy, and I can’t finish the second novel within a certain time frame?

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Again I’m doing that stupid “reach these expectations” thing. I would’ve hoped I learned by now, but it still eats at me. It’s a trait of perfectionism I wish I could kill. At the moment, I can’t kill it, but I did counter attack by googling some authors I look up to and wondered how long it took them to finish some of their work.

  • Neil Gaiman started thinking up ideas for American Gods in the early 1990s, starting actually writing it in 1998, then had it published in 2001.
  • It took J.K. Rowling six years to write the first Harry Potter book. (I know she’s going through a lot of heat right now, but she was a mom and had many other things going on back then and that’s still admirable)
  • Donna Tartt has a ten-year span between her novels The Secret History and The Goldfinch .
  • George R.R. Martin takes about five to six years for each installation of his Game of Thrones series too and I’ve heard his fandom is very impatient.

There are many other writers who punch out novels faster than them or slower than them, but doing my research gave me some peace about my own writing. Especially since I’m writing a scifi/fantasy work, I don’t just have setting, characterization, and plot to think about. I have cultural history, magical lore, old languages, futuristic weapons and probably way more to think about. I took this on so I can spend years enjoying it. Not race through it.

Why am I so goddamn hard on myself? I need to chill.

By the way, reached 300 pages today. *pats self on back*

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