How long will it take to write your book? Answering that question is a bit like asking how long a piece of string is. But you need to know how long it will take you to write your book otherwise you won’t be able to allow the right amount of time in your schedule to do the work. It is quite easy to work out and well worth the effort because when you know how long it is going to take, you can also work out the best way for you to do the work.

How much time do you need to write your book?

Before you can work out how long you need to write your book you need to know how long it is going to be. This is best worked out in numbers of words i.e. 10,000, 20,000, 25,000 etc. Once you have this worked out, you next need to work out how many words you can write in an hour (you could choose other timescales but an hour is easiest to work with).

Once you have done this, all you need to do next is to divide the number of words you are going to write but the number of words you can write in an hour. The number you get is the number of hours you will need to write your book. It is best if you take this as a minimum as you need to allow for thinking time, times when you get a bit stuck or times when you are tired. You are now ready to work out how long it will take you to write your book.

How to work out how many words you can write in an hour

  • Set a timer to 5 minutes.
  • Write continuously for the whole period, even if you run out of things to say, just write anything that comes into your head. Write at a pace that is comfortable for you. This is not speed-writing.
  • When the timer goes off, stop.
  • Count the number of words you wrote and multiply it by 12.
  • This is the number of words you can write in an hour.

How long will it take you to write your book?

Begin with the total number of hours it will take for you to write your book. Next, think about how you want to organise your write in diarywriting time; do you want to do it intensively over a few days or gradually over a few weeks. What you decide will largely be due to your natural approach to getting work done, the time you have available and whether you have a pressing deadline. There is no right or wrong, it is up to you (and you can change your mind if circumstances change or if you decide to do it differently).

With this decision made you can begin to diarise your working time. Perhaps you will decide to set aside a week to do the writing, or perhaps you decide to write for an hour or two every day, or maybe you decide to write for three weekends in succession.

As soon as you have worked this out you can set a deadline for yourself to finish the first draft. If you are working out your overall book-project schedule, it would be worth building in some extra time (a bit of slack) because life rarely goes according to plan and books definitely don’t. In addition, you must remember to allow revision time.

Final thoughts…

You now know how long it will take you to write your book. But bear in mind that this is still an estimate of how long it will take. You may get it done faster than you anticipate or it may take you longer.

It is only when you start writing that you will know whether the writing you estimated is accurate or not. However, it is worth remembering that you may start slowly and get faster as your experience grows and you get accustomed to the task so don’t be too quick to judge.

Be alert to your own attempts at prevarication and if you get stuck, get help before the whole process grinds to a halt. If you do this, you will get your book done to schedule (well, more or less).

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        »  Proof-reading – do you need it?
        »  How does your book fit within your business
        »  Finding the courage to publish your book

Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.