How long does it take to write a book?

For the busy entrepreneur or business owner, the idea of writing a book might be appealing, but the time it will take is a major turn off.

Nobody has time to spend 6-12 months writing a bestseller!

There are also options on the market to get your book done in a weekend.

So what is the real answer?

Let’s find out.




In this article, we will cover:

What are the different approaches to writing a book?

notebook and pen on a wooden tableIf you’re wondering how long it takes to write a book, the answers you get might be a bit confusing. Realistically, there are different approaches you can take to writing your book, and different things appeal to and work for different people.

So, it’s a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question.

Let’s look at the different writing schedules and the approaches which go with them.




Writing when you feel inspired, over a long period

inspirational message on a mug with book and penMany newbie writers will write when they feel inspired. That’s fine, but not if you want to write a book.

“If you only write when you feel inspired, you will never finish your book,” an author friend of mine said to me when I was writing my first book.

“Writing a book isn’t about talent, it’s about discipline,” said another.

And they were so right.

Writing only when you feel inspired – if you want to write a book – means that over time, you’ll probably drag that manuscript out of the cupboard every few months, if that. It’s too easy for life to get in the way.

Let’s move on from this option and not spend time encouraging it!




Writing once a week in a big two or three-hour session

woman writing on a wooden desk while reading a bookSome people, when they’re busy, say they’ll set aside one day a week (usually on the weekend) to write.

There are two major problems with this approach – if something ‘happens’ on that day… you get invited out to breakfast, your partner wants to do something, you have to take the kids to a game or party, or maybe you just don’t feel like it… you will lose your entire week’s writing opportunity… and suddenly it will be two weeks between writing sessions.

And with a two-week gap, what don’t you have? Momentum.

From my experience as a Book Coach and writer, momentum is the number one key to success when it comes to writing a book.

Also, with this approach, you often start procrastinating and dreading that massive writing session because it’s so big. There’s so much pressure to perform! 

I’ve seen it too many times. This just doesn’t work for 99% of people. If it’s your ONLY option, then it’s better than nothing I guess!

But ideally, don’t take this approach if you want your book to actually happen.




Writing in small increments, over a few months.

black book that says write ideasThis is the method which I advocate in most situations…. But there is a happy medium. For me, that’s is about 12 weeks.

It’s pretty quick, so you’re always doing something and moving forward, but it’s not SO quick that you lose quality.

You don’t want to spend 12 months or two years writing your book. It will feel like forever and become that really slow, boring project you never get around to doing and there is no end in sight.

I suggest to all my book coaching clients that they write for 15 minutes a day.

Yes, it would be even better if you could do 30 mins, 40 mins or an hour… but for many people, this becomes a bit overwhelming on a daily basis, because it’s a bigger chunk of time you have to set aside before you do anything else (I suggest writing before you even open social media or emails so that you avoid going down a rabbit hole and never coming back to the book!).

15 minutes is so much more do-able.

Like all good things, this is how you’ll create a habit. This momentum will build and you will find it easier and easier to write, rather than putting it off and procrastinating because you’re not in the right mood or headspace.

Although people say “But I can’t get into my creative flow within 15 minutes”, it’s actually the opposite. Firstly, this is a bit of a mindset issue and will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you keep telling yourself that… BUT beyond that, once you start writing every day, over time your brain will recognise the habit and your creativity unlocks! Have you ever heard about creativity thriving with discipline? It happens!

When I wrote my book, I made a decision to write for at least 15 mins every day, whether I felt like it or not. Even if I was tired (I had a baby and a full-time job, so I was often tired!), I still sat at my computer and wrote SOMETHING for 15 mins. Then if I was still tired, I could go and sleep/relax… but sometimes, those 15 mins turned into 3hrs and 3000 words.

And writing every day is a good way to build your confidence – because we build confidence when we do what we say we’re going to do.

I once read about a woman with five kids who wrote for five mins every morning before her children woke up. In a year she had written a novel.

Now that’s inspirational!

The beauty of writing for 15 minutes is that in addition to feeling very achievable, it also means that if you are doing it seven days a week, then missing a day or two here and there won’t throw you off your game.

Now, it’s likely that you won’t get your whole book written in three months if you ONLY write for 15 minutes each day… but you’ll get a lot closer than the ‘waiting until you’re inspired’ or ‘writing once a week’ approaches.

I’ve also noticed that when you do write for 15 minutes a day, that you feel inspired to write more. Suddenly you find pockets of time all over the place. The time you didn’t think you had before.

What I love about writing your book this way is that it has time to breathe and develop. You’re writing while you’re living, breathing, having fun, working with clients… and you go through lots of moods and ebbs and flows. All of this breathes life into your manuscript, and while it also means there are up and down periods, you can smooth this out during the editing phase.

Your book has time to blossom.




Writing a book in a few days

Person writing a book on a wooden tableIf you’re a busy entrepreneur, there are a couple of options available for you to write a book in a reduced space of time.

This can be an appealing option for someone who has a lot going on and just wants to get it out. It will only work for relatively short books, especially those which are in a mixed, self-help style, rather than a memoir or something that requires creativity and a beautiful narrative.

The quality and creativity will suffer because it’s hard to stay creative, focused and fabulous for hours and hours, but you can get out the bones of a draft.

In this situation, you’re going to need a lot of editing, and you don’t want to skimp on that! In fact, you don’t want to skimp on editing with any approach, but the faster you pump out your book, the more drafts you will need after the first draft is done.

I would suggest going away for a few days and locking yourself in a room – taking regular little breaks to get some air, and then getting back in there.

This is really for people who feel completely confident and know their topic inside out.

But you still need to be prepared for a pretty shitty first draft with improvements at each editing stage!

Just hope that you are feeling creatively inspired and ‘in flow’ during these few days! And that you can type SUPER FAST!




Writing a book in a one-week retreat

Person writing a book on a wooden table with coffee and bagelThis is something I’ll be trialling this year with a small group.

Writing the first draft in a week is possible, based on the assumption you’re only writing 10-12 chapters, not a 100,000 memoir!

Again, you need to assume that the first draft will be relatively rushed and ordinary. However, for a busy person who really can’t imagine fitting writing into their daily schedule, or who just want to get the book DONE, this may be the only option which makes sense.

You would need to do preparation before the week, in terms of working out your book strategy, creating an outline, and doing any top-level research or interviews.

Your goal during that week would be to write about two chapters a day, and just get out the bones of the book.

Then, following the retreat you’d revisit the draft and flesh it out a bit more… and a bit more… send it out for feedback and edit some more.

If you’re really, really time poor, you can get professional help with editing at any stage – but of course, the worse shape your draft is in, the more you will spend on editing.

If, post-retreat, you can do a couple of drafts yourself to improve the quality, you will save money on editing.

Either way, take your time with the post-retreat editing and polishing… You really don’t want to rush out the draft and then also rush out the publishing – because the quality will be rubbish.

My retreat package will include a few rounds of editing. If you’d like to be on the notification list for when the retreat details are announced, please send me a message.




Dictating a book in a weekend

Person holding a bookMy least favourite option.

There are numerous programs around which use this method. It involves spending a weekend dictating your book into a voice recorder. That recording is then sent to a transcription service and you receive back a transcription to edit.

This may seem like an attractive option, but it doesn’t work well for most people, and quite honestly, I’ve never seen a high quality, tell-all-your-friends book come out of this approach.

This process is most likely to work for an auditory learner because they prefer to listen and speak, rather than visualise and write. Or someone who is used to dictating, like a person who is visually impaired.

For everyone else, it can be hard to stay focused, stay on track, and keep on a logical train of thought. You may have noticed for yourself how easy it is to waffle when you’re speaking or telling a story.

Writing things down generally forces us to be a bit more careful with our choice of words, and it’s easy to do tiny edits as you go… You write a sentence and then quickly tidy up, or fix spelling or change a word choice.

With dictating, all of your messy thoughts and loose trains of thought are recorded and put into your transcribed draft. You also can’t easily go back to see what you said, move things around and see what you may have forgotten to include.

This approach could work if you spend a lot of time editing, as per the ‘retreat’ option above, so I think the biggest issue with the book-written-in-a-weekend option is that the final book is rushed and published too quickly when what it needed was many, many deep and thorough edits.




How do you choose?

group of people choosing something over the laptopIt all comes down to your time, budget, and feelings about quality.

Yes, there are options to rush your book out… and these might work for you.

Writing your book over a few months allows you time to have creative ebbs and flows, and you will have many writing sessions where your words are flowing beautifully. It will create the highest quality draft of all the options.

It also gives you the chance to work with a Book Coach like myself, so that you can get feedback as you go, and your writing will improve throughout the process. Feedback and a sounding board are so valuable when you are writing, especially when you have moments of feeling unsure about yourself, and the idea of putting your beautiful book out into the world.

Writing your book over a longer period also allows you to build your audience as you go. Best practice is to use this time to keep your audience and followers abreast of your book journey. Share on social media about how your writing sessions are going – are you in flow or blocked today? What are you writing about? Share value as you go. Have a cover competition…

This way you are marketing ‘with’ your audience rather than just bashing out a book and marketing ‘to’ them.

If your audience is invested in your book journey, they will want to see if when it’s done. I’ll explore that in another post!




Ready to write? What to do now.

person typing at laptopIf you’re ready to write a book and you think self-publishing seems like your best option, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy. Just click to access and tell me where to send it!


If you are a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing and think you may need support, please contact me at any time. I have different options available to help you, depending on your goals, your budget, and where you are in the process.

If you’d like to book a free, 10-minute Book Clarity Call with me, we’ll have a quick chat about your book idea and if you could leverage it to raise your profile and make more money in your service business.

If there is good potential, we’ll talk again for longer. If I believe a book isn’t the right option for you right now, or if we’re not the right fit for each other, I’ll let you know. It’s pressure and obligation free, I promise. Use this link to book directly into my diary.


I can’t wait to work with you and help you finally write that book this year!





Download your free checklist here!

If you’re keen to get started on writing your book, you will find my 45 Step Book Writing and Publishing Checklist very handy. Just click here to tell me where to send it!