Okay, so I sort of have an answer to this question. Sort of and maybe not so helpful, other than to give some comfort to writers who are in the trenches of finishing that first, or second or however many. I did some research and quite honestly the information did not answer the question. Instead, the authors and their works were scattered all over the place and covered a huge range of time. From two days to fifteen years! (Although, picturing an author sitting at a desk several hours a day, nonstop, for fifteen years is NOT feasible, practical, or healthy. Lol. Most likely took breaks -- months, maybe years in between writing, right?)
Here are some of the authors and their famous works mentioned:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne: finished in 2.5 days! Wow. Talk about speed writing.
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens: finished in 8 months. A little more along my pace.
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien: finished in 2 years: Okay, but this one would have been fun to write and I wouldn't want the journey to end!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J. K. Rollings: finished in 5 years. Yeah, but think about all the coffee and conversations interrupting the writing flow. And family stuff. Life happens.
Aaand *drumroll*, those competing for the longest running time to write a novel (on this list, at least) are:
Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Mitchell's Gone with the Wind - tied at 10 years.
Hugo's Les Miserables - 12 years. (Loved this novel! And even when I had to read it in French during college!)
Tolkien's Lord of the Ring's Trilogy - 15 years. (Really? This shouldn't count since we're talking about 3 books, not one.)
Those are only a few mentioned in the article, but there is a clear message in answering the question, "How long does it take to write a novel?" Answer: However long it takes.
Footnote: I spend an average of 4 to 9 months to finish a manuscript. Things to consider -- day job, staying healthy, personal life, inspiration or lack of, plot bunnies, genre vs. literary fiction, and so on, will all affect how much time you have to write and get it done. In other words, don't beat yourself up by comparing yourself to other writers' accomplishments. It's not healthy or productive. Writing is creative and not tied to a timeline...or at least it's that way until you get a book contract. Then the publisher will have something to say about timelines! LOL
Happy writing and reading! Below is a link to the article and chart. I hope it gives you some solace as you dive into your project. 😄
Time to Write a Book
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