Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How much writing do I need to do before I get published?

Hi all,

I was reading a post on Stephen Dedman's blog on and he mentioned Ian Irvine's writing rules at Ian reckons a writer needs to write for 10,000 hrs before they will complete a publishable novel. That's the equivalent of treating writing as a full-time job for five years. I estimate that I have spent around 3,000 hours actually writing and editing over the years. If I also include critiquing of other writer's work, which I consider essential to learning about writing, I could probably add about 500 hours. If I included the writing courses I have done - without the time spent writing and critiquing included above - I could add about another 800 hours. And if I included the time I have spent reading writing books then I could add about another 200 hours. So all up that gives me about 4,500 hours, barely halfway.

I have also read that the first three novels a writer writes are practice. It took Peter Carey ten years to write his first three novels and none of them got published. I have completed the first draft of one novel, which I aim to rewrite this year when I finish the first draft of the novel I am currently working on. I estimate I am about a third of the way through that first draft. I am also a third of the way through another novel and 15,000 words into another. So realistically, I am nowhere near finishing three novels. By finishing I mean rewriting them a number of times and then polishing them.

I have also heard of the 1,000,000 word rule. The first draft of the novel mentioned above is 126,000 words. I am somewhere around 40,000 words into my current novel, and I have written about 40,000 and 15,000 words of two other novels. I would estimate that I have completed about 80,000 - 100,000 words of short stories and another 50,000 words of writing exercises. Within those word tallies above, there are at least 200,000 words of corrections and deletions. That gives me about 571,000 words, so I am about halfway.

So it would seem I am about halfway to having a publishable novel. It feels like I am only about halfway too. One thing is for sure, I need to do a lot more writing. So far this year I have written every day. I now aim to increase the amount of writing I do every day.


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