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Why Do Some People Write Books so Fast? A Perspective on Writing

Manuscript development

There seem to be more working writers today. Clearly social media and blogging has contributed to this perspective, but with all the stuff that’s out there encouraging people to write, there’s a good reason people have picked up the pen. A recent survey states that there are 44.2 thousand writers working in the United States as of 2020.

Why do some people take months to finish their manuscript and others take years?

In 2016 George RR Martin asked Stephen King how he published so often and King’s reply was that when he works he writes about four hours a day everyday and tries to get six clean pages finished at each sitting. In this way he’s able to publish twice a year. In a report on the length of time it took to write certain famous novels, Martin stated he write three pages a day. His first four Game of Thrones novels came out four, five, and six years apart.

When you start working on a creative writing project it’s best to be clear about what needs to be done. Writing is inherently spontaneous while a great deal and the most important parts of it are planned, because writing a novel involves creating a structure for the story to be told.

NaNoWriMo is all about getting the material out. It’s not about revising. Revising comes after development and NaNoWriMo is out there to encourage would-be novelists to write.

The idea behind them is to get started on something that an author will continue working on once the month is over and turn it into something great. It’s an exercise, a test, a call to pick up the pen. Veronica Roth who wrote Divergent finished the first book of the series while on winter break from school.


A 100,000 page manuscript—around 300 pages—can be generated in four months or four years with the same level of dedication and efficiency. The length of time it should take you to write your book depends upon your style of writing the time you have to devote to it!

People scoff at the notion of completing a novel in under six months. But those that do either have never written a novel themselves or are too slow a writer to see that it can be done and traditionally published.

Prose v high style

Some writers have an loose style and use ready-made speech such as idioms and hackneyed

language in there work. For a lot of stories, using idiomatic language is the way to go.

Consider the sentence:

For a lot of stories, using idiomatic language is the way to go.

It ends with an idiomatic expression. If it hadn’t might’ve taken a few seconds longer to write! Idioms are a no-brainer because they’re the language that’s natural to us so it comes out of our mouth's or pens faster. Stories filled with idioms are told a language we hear, write, and speak all of the time, so it could be comforting and also boring to read.

Imagine David Balducci and John Grisham novels written like Ernest Hemingway’s books. They would be very different legal thrillers if they were written in the bare, repetitive language of Hemingway’s early output.

While common expressions are found in prose, prose isn’t limited to it.

Other writers are focus on creating high style. A great example of this is Shakespeare who wrote about a play a year for 38 years. For an example in fiction, James Joyce’s work is highly stylized.

There is a reason why Stephen King writes 100,000 word novels in three to four months and why James Joyce's Ulysses took seven years and a few assistants to write. If Ulysses had been written in Stephen King’s style, it would have taken four months to write and delivered a radically different take on Homer’s Odyssey.

With Joyce you have a rich use of several languages puns, extreme detail and format variants in point of view and a switch to dramatic structure for Circe. His book is firmly in the classical literary tradition also an experimental outgrowth of modernism. In comparison, Don Quixote is an experimental novel published 315 years earlier.

In Stephen King you have a simpler use of language. There’s plenty of filler in his pages, and there’s a systematic and straightforward conventional story arc structure modeled in his work.

There’s simply so more precision and use of language in Joyce than there is in King, though both men demonstrate their artistry through the discipline they used to write their work. To say one is better than the other is a matter of taste.

Convincing the reader

A novel can be about anything and readers will tolerate bad writing if the story is good, or the a slow pace if the writing is exquisite. So taste is a factor but also you just have to convince the reader of the story your telling for them to stay with it.


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