Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Call Me Bamboo

How long does it take to become a writer? Hopefully five seconds. Okay, twenty minutes? But you ARE writing, right? If you write, then you're a writer. The real question then is how long does it take to get traditionally published and become an established author?

How long does it take to become an author? || writing advice | getting published | author success stories | the 10,000 hour rule

Writing is a long and lonely process, but in today's world we do have each other and we can accomplish more together than we can alone. Today's topic explores the length of time it takes to write and get published.

Bamboo grows very slowly when it first starts out from a tiny shoot, even when it's watered daily and has plenty of air and sunshine. For four years you'll see virtually no growth. That's because all the work is being put under the ground - the root system, a deep supportive structure to withstand the miraculous growth for the next year. In year five, bamboo can grow up to as much as 80 feet tall! They can grow 39 inches in 24 hours. Wow!

Writers are like that, too. If you connect, pay it forward, practice the craft, work diligently, and be persistent, you will grow too. You will finish lots of projects. You will perfect your own style. You will get published. You can make a living as a writer. (Though most writers do have other sources for income, that's a topic for another day.)

How long does it take to write a PB manuscript in the first place? I've heard from 1 day to 3 years, or from 1 week to 2 years. So...let's say from 1 day or 1 week up to 2-3 years. Average time? A year? How many revisions? Two or three up to 20+. It depends. Whatever works for THAT story is what it needs. Patience IS a virtue.

How about the publishing bit? Remember, you are a bamboo! Average is 9 years. I heard once that it takes 6-10 years to become an established author. (Or 2-5 books!) Aaron Shepard says it takes 8-10 years. Remember the 10,000 hour rule. You have to do something for 10,000 hours to be considered proficient at it. So stay productive and get it done!

So how long have you been at it? Me? Since the summer of 2009. So I've got 2 and a half years down into the rooting system. How about you?

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. I love this analogy.

    I'm further along with the development of my roots and shoots. I'm waiting for the pandas to find me. :D

  2. Great post, Christie. I began writing for kids in mid-2006 while pregnant with my now five-yr-old, then took a year off when she was born and dug in seriously in November 2007. Got my first contract in May 2010, second in October 2011. I continue to grow!

  3. Hi, Christie. Stopping by to check out your blog. Found your blog on the list for the April A to Z challenge. I'm also participating.


  4. I'm about the same as you Christie! We'll get there...

  5. Me too, if you mean taking writing seriously from that time. I used to write on an evening after work on a rubbish MG, I don't count that lol. I love the bamboo analogy too! I hope a panda doesn't eat me too early :)


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