Printerinks, one of the largest printer ink, printer toners, and replacement ink cartridges companies in the UK,, has put together a great infographic comparing how long it has taken to write some of the world’s best known novels, as well as how lengthy those novels are.
Not only is the information itself fascinating, but I love the design of the infographic as well, and how cleverly it displays the information.
The range of times needed to complete the books is quite wide, from two and a half days for John Boyne to write The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas to The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien which took 16 years to complete (I realize it’s three books). The single novel on the list that took the longest to write is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, at 12 years. It also happens to be the longest novel on the list, coming in at about 560,000 words.
Two other books that offer extreme stats are The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Stevenson wrote Jekyll and Hyde in 6 days (allegedly while on cocaine), averaging close to 4,500 words per day. Salinger, on the other hand, took over 10 years to complete Catcher in the Rye, averaging just 20 words per day.
So it seems as if there is no hard and fast rule for how long it takes to write a classic novel.
I guess the key thing is to keep at it until it is finished, and then have the courage to share your masterpiece with the world.
And by the way, for those of you who may be interested, my blog posts typically are between 500 and 600 words per day. At that pace, I could have written Les Miserables in less than three years, and Catcher in the Rye would have only taken me about 130 days. But instead of focusing on quality like Hugo and Salinger did, I’ve opted to deliver daily drivel, and unfortunately, I think I’ve succeeded.
P.S. Here is the start of my novel, writing at Salinger’s pace:
Turley just lay there, wondering how he could once again get through another long day pretending to like his job.
Just keep checking in for the next 3,670 days to read the many ups and downs of Turley’s life, and the surprise ending…