Tuesday, 30 October 2012

How long does it take to write a story?

This morning, I had a break through. 
I managed to draft a story, here. With the dogs and John all getting under my feet (the car he had for sale is gone but his own car has now developed a problem so that’s here instead). I don’t think the story’s that good, but right now that doesn’t matter. I’ve pushed through the mental barrier and should now be able to write again, when, and where I want to (hooray!)
I’ve been working on my cat story which is ticking along very nicely. I won’t be able put off sending a story out for much longer. It feels scary even typing that but I know I can’t put it off for ever.
The estate agent called, not pleased because I’d sent him an email yesterday saying I need to hold back on my house purchase. As I explained, if he’d told me the truth (he said I’d have several viewings in the first week), I would have been happier to go ahead. As it is, I don’t want to be stuck with two houses (sounds great on paper) with no actual cash in the bank.
I’m thinking very positively, sending out all kinds of good vibes for the couple coming to view the house on Saturday. Woody and Snoopy are due to leave that morning so providing it pans out the way it should, I’ll have enough time to clean the place up. Otherwise, I’ll have to pray the couple like dogs!
I was asked, via a tweet, how long it takes me to write a story so I thought I might expand on the subject a bit here. Getting the first draft down on paper probably takes about an hour for a thousand words. Sometimes, that first draft needs very little work as the story just flows on to the page. When I’m writing well, that happens quite a lot. It’s the same old story, the characters kind of take over, even in a short short story. Other times, there are a few problems. I might not be sure how to start, or how to end, or feel that the story needs more shape to it. In that case, I’ll type the story up, then leave it for a while. Nine times out of ten, when I go back to it, some days later, the gaps will fill themselves in. Other times, they don’t. I’ve been known to wait literally years for the right ending/beginning/way to tell the story to come to me all of which explains why I prefer to have a lot of stories on the go at any one time. SO the answer to the question, how long does it take is simple – anything from an hour and a half, to three years.
Happy writing.


  1. It's funny, my sister was asking me the same thing yesterday. I agree that sometimes a story just flows and can take as little as a couple of hours from start to finish and then there are the ones (like today's) that I have to tease out. I have noticed that these ones seem to have been my most successful so am keeping fingers crossed that once I have walked the dog, a suitable ending will come to me and I can finish the blooming thing.

  2. Funny you should blog about this, Linda. I'm feeling somewhat inadequate after reading Della Galton's blog entry for today about writing short stories at speed. Apparently, she used to write 3 short stories a week - one on Monday morning, another on Monday afternoon and the third on Tuesday morning. This week, she said, she has returned to that working method and her stories were 2,400 words, 1,000 and 2,300.

    ...And there was me thinking of using NaNoWriMo to write a 'rough' short story a day. (I'm far too self-critical to write a story straight off and whack it in the post/email without going through it several times with a fine-toothed comb. I even read them out loud and/or record myself doing so, so I can tell what works and what doesn't!) I bought myself two lovely new A4 lined notebooks yesterday, wrote my daily word count and 30 working titles from my ideas book on the first page. (1,666 words a day.) Now, having read how efficient Della is, I'm feeling slightly disheartened. Your blog post has helped enormously.

    Incidentally, I bought your book about why short stories are rejected today (Kindle version). I shall read that when I think I've 'finished' all 30 stories to my own satisfaction.x

  3. Sounds like a nightmare with the estate agent. I vowed never to move again after the last debacle ten years ago.

    I'm pleased to hear you're back writing stories - we need all the escapism we can get!