Not as long as you might think. The British romance novelist Barbara Cartland spent, on average, about five days writing each of her 723 books! In the year 1983 alone, she penned 23 novels and earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most novels written by one person in a single year. During her 98 years, she sold over a billion copies of her books, and when she died she left behind 160 unpublished manuscripts.
I’m not that productive. It takes me about 6 to 10 months to finish a manuscript — after the research has been done. But it depends on the length of the book and the level of my stamina (both of which seem to be decreasing).
It took Thomas Jefferson about seventeen days to write the Declaration of Independence. No, that’s not a book. But it was an awfully important piece of writing.
J.R.R. Tolkien took considerably longer with The Lord of the Rings. He wrote to his publisher in February 1938, indicating he had completed the first chapter; and another letter, dated February 1950, contained news that the last chapter was finished.
J.K. Rowlings took five years to craft the first Harry Potter novel, but Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just two weeks.
The popular little self-help book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, was written by Richard Carlson during a twelve-hour transatlantic flight.
If you want to write, start by finding fifteen minutes a day and working steadily. Everyone’s life is more interesting than any fiction you’ll ever read. Start writing down your story for those you love—and perhaps for a few other people, too.