Ideas Take Time

In fact, ideas can take a lot of time.

How long does it take to write a book? It’s difficult for me to say. Usually, an idea “cooks” in my head for a very long time before I begin to write it. During that preparation time I will make notes and do research. The actual writing can be relatively quick—four to fifteen months—but I could the preparation as part of the work. So in that way, The Great Train Robbery was 3 years. Jurassic Park was 8 years. Disclosure was 5 years. Sphere is an odd example: I started it and wrote part of it, but didn’t have a good ending, so I stopped. Twenty years later, I picked it up again and finished it in about two months. So: did it take 20 years, or two months?

Michael Crichton (via a young readers’ Q&A page on his site)

Suddenly, I feel I can survive waiting three-plus years at a time in between each Penderwicks book. (I’ve been following that series for awhile now – it’s by Jeanne Birdsall and I highly recommend it!)

But my point is, I think I can relate to this quote, because, although I have not lived as long as Mr. Crichton, a lot of my ideas for stories have floated around in my head for extended periods of time before they develop and mature into what goes on paper. And even then, they’re never fully developed! (Yay, rewriting and editing and revising – NOT.)

But enough about me. How much time do you spend forming an idea for a story in your head before it goes on paper? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

One thought on “Ideas Take Time

  1. Michael Gunter says:

    LOL. I see what you mean. Waiting twenty years for the next book might be a little much, eh?

    I usually spend two or three days thinking about it, making sure the concept is something I want to write.


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