CJ Carmichael

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How long does it take to write a book?

This is one of the questions people most frequently ask me when they hear that I’m an author. I’m not sure why. Maybe they’re hoping it doesn’t take much time and they might be able to squeeze “writing a book” into their calendar next month?

The answer, of course, is complicated. Many factors come into play. How long is the book? (My books range from short novellas of 35,000 words, to longer novels upwards of 80,000 words.) Also, how much research is required to write the book? And what else is going on in my life—are there going to be interruptions for holidays, family-stuff or other writing-related tasks.

writing-brambleHere is a photo of me, starting a new book in June of 2015. I had the title (A Bramble House Christmas), and the picture that would be on the cover of the book, and not much else. At the time, I had planned the book to be 40,000 words and I hoped it would be ready at the end of October.

What actually happened, is that despite tons of fun distractions (lake and hiking stuff) the book turned out to be 45,000 words and I finished three weeks early. I guess I got lucky this time…once I really had time to focus, the story just sort of flowed. Some books are like that. Others are like English Assignments from Hell. But maybe I shouldn’t get too smug. I haven’t had comments back from my editor yet, which means I still don’t know how much time I’ll be spending on revisions.

And that’s the other tricky thing. When people ask how long to write a book, do they mean including revisions, copy edits, etc? Since there can be time lags of weeks or even months between these stages, you can see why it’s a hard question to answer.

So next time you ask an author a question, ask her something easy like… “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”

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