How long does it take to write a novel? How long is a piece of string?
Some authors tell us they spent years writing their novel. This is not strictly accurate. They haven't spent every day of those years writing it. The writing has been spread over those years. Perhaps some days, weeks or even months went by when no writing occurred at all.
The only way to accurately depict how many hours or days have been spent on a novel is to record the actual writing time on a spread-sheet.
I work in sessions - they could be 15 minutes (minimum, or I don't record), 30 minutes or hours or part-hours. I keep a tally so that every 8 hours equals one day.
In a recent article about personal finance, Jeffrey Archer revealed something of interest. "It typically takes me about 1,000 hours to write a book... Writing works out at about £10,000 an hour [from his earnings]."
For my current work-in-progress I've just clocked 100 hours for my 70,000 words. That averages out at 700 words an hour. Of course some hours I'll be writing more than that, and others considerably less. One thing is for sure, when the book is finished and published, it is not going to earn me anywhere near £10,000 an hour!
Jeffrey Archer is 76. His latest book, This Was A Man is the conclusion of his Clifton Chronicles and is published on 3 November. Archer lives in Grantchester with his wife Mary. (I wonder if he will ever appear in one of James Runcie's Sidney Chambers Grantchester crime novels? Probably not, different era!)