How long does it take you to write a story?

Recently, there have been several people who have been interested in how long it takes me to write a story. For a flash fiction piece, it might take a little while to get the idea or it might come in a flash (no pun intended). Once I've got the idea, though, it takes an hour and a half, maybe two hours to write the story. I try to let it sit overnight, then tweak before posting.

Short stories (~4K) take longer, of course, simply because the plotting is more involved and there's more to check & correct. I haven't timed that, but probably 10-12 hours to write it, then more time to tweak and edit.

Does that seem slow? Fast? When the writing is going well, hours and hours can fly by without my noticing. When it's not, it's like breaking rocks, every quarter hour is a pain.

So, for the FridayFlashers in particular, how long does it take you to write your ~1K stories?


  1. I think I'm a slow writer but it really depends on the intangible things which coincide to make a good or a bad writing day. Flash takes me about 5-6 hours to produce and post. I let it sit too, even if I'm happy with it, and invariably find something to change. I like this format very much. It forces me to try and write spare lines, and to focus on rendering meaning.

    But #fridayflash isn't just writing, it's reading too. And the reading and feeding back thoughts is part and parcel of the whole experience which expands the time to perhaps 20 or more hours (I hadn't realised this until I did the sums!) This is quite a commitment, but one I really enjoy. There are talents in this group who suprise, delight and challenge assumptions. I'm pleased to be a part of it.

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  3. I honestly don't know. Sometimes I take hours and hours, agonizingly tweaking the story, and sometimes it comes quickly and I can do it in a sitting (or 2). I usually like to write early (at least a few days) and let the story brew like a nice cuppa before I do a final proof and post it.

    The writing time is not including the time for brainstorming or the hours I spend reading.I usually can read anywhere between 5-20 flash stories a week.

    The brainstorming portion just depends, sometimes I get inspired suddenly, and other times I keep looking for ideas or resort to my handy dandy moleskine notebook where I jot down ideas for future stories.

  4. FridayFlash has been a great experience for me, to be sure, as a writer and as a reader.

    Just to clarify, for estimating time per story produced, I'm not counting reading time, either of FridayFlash stories or other works. Those are necessary life activities for the writing life, but aren't tied to one particular piece.

    I also exclude the thinking time before and after - otherwise, I'd have to tally up all those diffuse moments in the shower, while making dinner, standing at the gas pump, etc.

    I'm talking about pen in hand, fingers on the keyboard, creating and/or revising words for a particular piece. Squishy thing to think about, isn't it?

  5. This weeks took about 6 hours all told. it felt like that was 7 more hours than I had to give, but it was worth it just so I could post it. The initial writing took an hour, the rest was revision

  6. Hmmmm, usually a first draft takes 20-30 minutes. If I was in the right frame of mind when writing (i.e. not getting in the way) then editing can take another 20-30 mins total. If I wasn't in a good place, then it can be an hour or two to batter it into shape.

    Leaving it to simmer is always preferable, but I often don't get the chance. The latest one I wrote was drafted at about 3:30pm on Friday, live at about 5pm. I dream of being ahead of myself by a week so I have simmering time... no luck with that yet :o)

  7. I'm sloooooowwwwww... SILVER BULLET, my last new flash, took me about 2 hours to figure out form and then ~24 hours to write, revise, and rewrite. And it's not done -- it's in the hopper for another revise and rewrite next month. Ironically, THE LONELIEST TREE, a kid's parable, has taken me the longest -- probably 40-50 hours. Don't get me going on the novels ;^0

    Lately, it's the ideas that have been eluding me, so getting anything written feels like slogging through quicksand.

    I agree with skycycler -- #fridayflash is a committment to write, then go and read others' words. I rarely get to everyone's (sorry!) and it takes me the course of a week. But the effort is worthwhile... Peace, Linda

  8. This raises an interesting question. It's not like I'm punching a clock here, but when I'm talking about writing, I don't include reading time in that.

    I could stretch to include time spent thinking out plots, solving problems in my head, but I could be overlapping thoughts on half a dozen stories at once, or coming up with a nice bit of dialogue which I'll find a home for later.

    I read somewhere that the pros distinguish between time spent writing and time spent thinking about writing. Is this not the case?

  9. I definitely separate out time writing and time thinking about plot, germinating ideas etc. Otherwise I would class "writing" as something I do for more than ten hours a day!

    Writing time for me is actually crafting the words that make the story. All the thinking around the edges is practically constant.

  10. I have not participated in Friday Flash. But, I want to tell you all how much I enjoy reading your stories. I look forward to them and when they are announced on twitter, I mark them as favorites and then read them on Saturday morning.
    I have started to write for @Wisneski Soft Whispers Pic 1 k, so I will be finding out how long it takes.
    For now, though, I love your Friday Flash.

  11. Interesting thread. Mid October of last year I was getting down on myself because the hours at the keyboard were not producing the word count I wanted. I felt guilty of not writing if I wasn't at the keyboard. I incurred massive amounts of editing and re-writing, and began to regard myself as a poseur,a has-been-that-never-was.

    Then I realized that preparing to write (research, plotting, character sketches, etc) and the actual physical act of writing (typing, long hand, dictation) were different, yet inseparable activities. This made a big difference, and turned my attitude around.

    I enjoy the making things up and figuring things out work the most. I do it most of my waking hours in one form or another, and trying to alot a portion per story seems ludicrous. What I can tell you is that allowing myself to do the creative work away from the keboard, my typing time is much more productive. With story elements well considered an in place, I can knock out a 1000 word first draft in roughly an hour. Allowing another hour for edits & revisions, preferably 12-24 hours apart, seems about right.

  12. Thanks, Cynthia, I'm glad you like them - I'll try to keep you coming back for more! ;-)

    Personal opinion alert: I see outlining and researching as preparation for writing, not writing itself. Even working out plot arcs is prep. Once you have as much of that as you need, then the writing starts.

    This is NOT to say that the prep is not valuable, even essential, as Emma & Trev can attest. Abraham Lincoln said that if he were given eight hours to chop down a tree, he'd spent the first seven hours sharpening the axe. It's an important insight, but sharpening an axe is preparation that leads to efficient chopping.

    Outlining, character mapping, plotting is preparation that leads to efficient writing. You can chop down a tree with a dull axe, and you can write a story without any prep effort, but it's HARDER and the end result is lower quality.

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  14. My ideas are usually kicking around for some time before I write them, even as tiny grains.

    I think you're right, Tony, in that the more you think about and plan your story, the better the end result.

    When I wrote my FridayFlash piece "Fairy-Led", it took me just under an hour to put it together, but that story had been on my mind for a couple of weeks. I think very short flashes can be thrown together very quickly, but the longer the work, the more preparation is needed, not to mention the tweaking at the end.

  15. For me it takes about 20-45 minutes and then I edit the next two days.


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