The literary community has been debating the best times to start reading new fiction for decades, and in a survey published this week, most writers said they were still not quite ready to start.
The poll of 3,200 writers found that 41 per cent said they would have preferred to start a new book as soon as possible after finishing their previous work, while 36 per cent would prefer to start with a story they’d already written and finish the novel they’d started.
But most of the writers were willing to start from scratch.
The median time from start to finish for a novel is 30 days, the survey found.
In another survey, published earlier this year, most authors had started their first novel in December, but some were starting the second and third novels in early January.
The average book that took four months or more to write was set for release in 2019.
This was partly because most of those surveyed said they did not have the time to wait to read a book and finish it.
“The question is, when do you want to start?” said Stephen Lomas, a bookseller and author of the new novel “The First Time”.
“And the answer is: when it’s good.
When it’s really good.”
The authors also shared the results of a survey they conducted in March, which asked what readers of their novels would say about their first novels.
“I don’t have to wait four months,” one writer said.
“This book will be good for a month.
And I will be happy.”
But many writers are also beginning to think about writing their next novel.
A survey of more than 400 writers published last year by the literary journal Rethink Literary found that just 20 per cent of those who had completed their first book would be willing to do so again.
“It’s not a rush,” said a self-confessed author of a novel.
“What would I do if I didn’t write any more?”
This year, Rethack Literary also asked readers to tell the world about their next book.
Only 30 per cent wrote about their novels, with more than half saying they’d only started writing about a few things.
“Some of them might do it in five years,” said one author of two novels.
But the lack of interest in writing may be down to the fact that many writers, even when they’re starting to write, don’t yet have the patience or inclination to devote themselves to the work.
Writing has been linked to mental health issues and depression in recent years, but there are also benefits.
One theory is that it may help to build a sense of purpose and motivation.
“When you’re writing, you’re also writing to yourself,” said the writer-director of the literary magazine, A Voice for the Voice.
“You’re writing to create an audience and a world for yourself.
And that’s the kind of writing that people tend to want to do.”
Some writers said the writing process has become a lot easier than it used to be, and the pressure of having to keep writing may make it hard to keep pace with other forms of work.
“If I’m writing a novel now, I have to keep my mind busy for three or four hours every day,” one author said.
It may be that we’re more in touch with ourselves, he added.
“We’ve become so much more connected to our emotions.
And our brains are getting more efficient.”
Rethask Literary is a non-profit that supports and encourages authors to start their own literary projects, to publish their work in mainstream publishing, and to use literary forms of expression in a way that promotes a sense for writing and self-expression.
The survey also found that many authors are starting to see the value in reading more.
“There are times when I can’t go to the library and sit and read a lot of fiction,” one editor said.