I’ve been writing my current novel for about three years (by ‘current novel’, I mean my own, non-IP or non-Black Library related work). That’s quite a long time to have spent writing a novel, but of course not every day has been spent actually writing it – weeks and months have passed where I’ve done nothing with it, and evenings have gone by in a blur when I’ve pushed it on further than I would have thought possible. Looking at my old notebooks I see that one year ago (9 March 2020) I had 10,000 words of it in hand, and it had taken me about two years to get there. At the moment, the draft is around 90,000 words, which means that 80,000 words have been added to that original 10,000 in the last twelve months.
But in fact, the numbers don’t tell the full story, because the vast majority of those extra 80,000 words were added in the last two or three months. And of course, even if I keep that pace up and manage to complete it in the next two or three months (I think it’s going to top out around 130 – 140,000 words), I still wouldn’t have a complete novel. All I would have would be a first draft, and that’s a very different beast.
I suppose in the end the numbers don’t really count, or not as much as you might think. I can keep track of them and feel like I’m achieving something as they mount up, but all I’m really achieving is getting myself closer to an arbitrary total, and I won’t know what I’ve actually got until I get there. I just hope it doesn’t take me another three years to find out.