What a treat to find a comment on my previous post from Cara, one of the bridesmaids in our younger daughter's wedding (and a talented singer, by the way)! Thanks for stopping by, Cara, and I'll try to answer some of your writing questions in this post.
I began writing Autumn Rains, my manuscript that won the 2005 Golden Heart, back in 2000, perhaps two years after the first seeds of the idea were sown. The original version was completed in about 6-8 months, but since then it has been through numerous rewrites and revisions as a result of critique group comments and feedback from the smaller contests I'd entered prior to the GH. And although the GH does not include critique feedback, advice from other professional sources has resulted in yet more revisions since last summer. So, Cara, I guess there is no short answer to how long it takes to write a book. I'd even venture to say that a book is never complete until it actually goes to press!
On to my writing routine. I wish I could say I write faithfully every day, but I'm a horrible procrastinator and am easily distracted. On a good day I may write (and in this case I mean create new material) for two to four hours, producing on average two to ten manuscript pages. So if I'm a really good girl and manage that four out of five work days, I might churn out 40-100 pages in a week. Which means I could finish the first draft of a 400-page novel in two or three months.
But that is so not realistic! It doesn't include the essential preparatory time for research, character sketches, and any advance plotting or outlining. And the results would be raw, unpolished text, in desperate need of revisions. Believe me when I tell you, the real work of writing is the rewriting!
It's said of many that they don't want to write so much as they want to have written. Writing is hard work, as you are already learning. But you've made it past the first (and perhaps most difficult) hurdle. You have begun. So congratulations, and keep going! My advice to any new writer would be to attend some quality conferences and workshops. From personal experience I can recommend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference (held every year over Palm Sunday weekend) and American Christian Fiction Writers (annually in September). Others with excellent reputations (these are all Christian conferences, by the way) are Glorieta, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and Write to Publish. (I'm sure a Google or Yahoo search would turn up the websites for any of these.)
Books on writing craft I've found helpful are any of those in the sidebar to the left. I also subscribe to Writer's Digest and The Writer. If you have the opportunity to join a local writer's group or an online chapter, you'll find encouragement, advice, and maybe even connect with one or two accountability partners to keep you motivated.
Don't give in to discouragement, Cara, no matter how long it takes. You have an intriguing premise and the background that will give it the ring of truth. I know you to be a dedicated and determined young woman, and I pray God's blessing on this work and all your creative endeavors.
Read more on the writing life at Carnival of Christian Writers!