This is the second most common question people ask me when I mention I’ve just published a book. (I’m not dealing with, ‘What’s it about?’ My standard answer ‘It’s not about anything, it’s fiction,’ seems to annoy people for some reason.)
This second question is very hard to answer. ‘I started it thirty years ago’ is not, of course, in any way the same as ‘It’s taken me thirty years to write it.’ Equally, ‘I started it six months ago,’ has no implications for how long it’s taken to ‘write.’
During those thirty years, or during a period of whatever duration before commencing the six-month write-up, there won’t have been any of this;
It’s not impossible that there will have been some of this – it does happen;
Lots of this of course;
and enormous amounts of this;
However, these processes can’t necessarily go on all day every day for thirty years. Some writers do work like that, but there’s always more to think of besides the written work in hand. Things like shopping for food, cooking, laundry, gardening, caring for family. There still seems to be a feeling among people who don’t happen to write, that ‘a writer’ is a different species, and that the writing process is not just work like any other, needing to be combined with everyday life. . Maybe that will slowly break down now, with self-publishing, the Internet, POD, etc, etc.
But what has been going on in the thirty years? Probably quite a lot of this;
Thinking is where the writing happens. You may quote me on that.