How Long Does It Take to Write a Light Novel? About 3 Days

You’ve had enough of just reading Light Novels (LN) and want to try writing your own. A brilliant story, lovable characters, and a unique world are seconds from bursting forth from the confines of your brain and you must write.

But you stop seconds before putting finger to keyboard and ask yourself:

How long is this going to take? I’ve a million things to do, work, school, people to meet, and all that other boring stuff that eats into the few precious hours I have left in the day to relax.

Isn’t writing a LN hard? Time-consuming? How many days would I have to wake up an hour early to get this thing done?

Just how long does it take to write a Light Novel?

On average, it takes anywhere from 50 to 100 hours to write a Light Novel. The total time depends on how fast you can write. If you write one hour a day and match the average of 1000 words per hour, it will take approximately 2 months to write a standard-length, 50,000 word Light Novel.

Does that sound like a huge commitment? Maybe it sounds much too short. The most common answer I found when researching how long it takes to write a novel was anywhere from 6 months to a year.

An entire year to write a novel? Ridiculous. There’s no reason writing a novel should take an entire year. In fact, by the end of this article, I guarantee you’ll be convinced you can write your entire LN in just one month—maybe even less.

And the way you do this is through 1% percent actual writing and 99% getting in the right mindset.

It Is Possible to Write a Light Novel in a Month

The first half of this mindset is one of thinking that:

Writing a LN is the easy part and can be completed quickly. The far more time-consuming part is preparing it for publishing.

Writing a LN can take a few days if you set your mind to it. It’s all those boring (yet important) bits like editing, interior design, formatting, and so on that will shape your vile, disgusting, horrible first draft into the next bestseller.

And yet, so many Authors and those who offer writing advice believe that writing your first draft can take up to a year or longer depending on your word count.

Maybe if you only write 100 words an hour for an hour every day. But even that would net you 36,500 words—more than half a LN!

But you don’t want it to take that long. And it doesn’t have to. I wrote my first LN in 25 days (50,000~ word draft) and my second in 27 days (55,000~ word draft). And I only wrote 2-3 hours a day.

The average person can type around 1,000 words an hour. With that in mind, let’s run some numbers.

Because the average LN is 50,000 words long, we’ll use that as our baseline. If that sounds too long or too short to you, check out this article I wrote regarding average LN lengths.

Anyway, 50,000 words divided by 30 days (a month) equals writing at the bare minimum: 1,667 words a day. At 1,000 words an hour, this translates to roughly:

1 hour and 40 minutes of writing per day.

Which further boils down to you only needing to write a total of: 50 hours in 30 days or just under two hours a day.

Just 50 hours or less than two hours a day! What is that? It’s nothing. What? You think that’s way too much of your time?

You may be right. I don’t know what’s going on your life. Your schedule could be so completely packed full that you can’t spare more than ten minutes of writing per day.

Alright, fine. If I believed you, then I’d tell you to still write those 167 words a day. You’ll still have written a LN in less than a year if you wrote every day.

But I don’t believe you, quite frankly. We all have free time, often too much of it. And even more often we waste on it ultimately fruitless endeavors like playing video games or watching TV. If we were to give up such endeavors, we would find ourselves with an abundance of free time.

But I don’t want to make you give up those. Such activities might be the only thing keeping you from murdering your boss whose sole purpose in life is to make yours miserable.

You can still have them, but I want you to take a step back and seriously consider how much time you spend on them. Doing so will allow you to develop the other half of the fast-writing mindset, that being:

Don’t think of writing in terms of days, months, or years, but in hours.

Never say it will take you so many days or months to write your LN, but how many hours. This is where nearly every other advice-giver(?) goes wrong. They tell you to think in terms of the former. I say—think in hours.

A month is pretty long, three months is really long, an entire year might as well be eternity. 

But 50 hours? What’s that? Two days and some change? Yep, you read that right. You can write your entire LN in a little over two days, well, let’s just call it three.

The human brain is not set up to plan in terms of months, it’s hard enough planning what you’ll be having for dinner tonight, much less next summer.

Don’t treat your LN as a four-year college degree plan, but as something that can knocked in just a couple days’ time.

But how? How do you get into this mindset? And more importantly, where do you find the time to write?

How to Find Time to Write Your Light Novel

There are two ways to do this. The first is designed to make you feel bad and thus be compelled to actually try the second, which is more practical.

Firstly, if you’re involved in Otaku culture at all, then I guarantee you play video games, watch anime, or read manga/LNs. And I also guarantee you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time playing/watching/reading them.

So, and again you will feel like an awful wretch after this, you have been warned, anyway, I want you to go into your:

  • Steam Library
  • Information on your most-played game saves (Cough* Skyrim Cough*)
  • Anime Tracker (My Anime List / Anime-Planet)
  • Manga / LN Tracker
  • The screen time tracker on your phone (looking for Mobile Games)

Or whatever else you spend all your free time on and take a long, hard look at the amount of hours you’ve spent on any one of those things.

Scary, isn’t it? Can you see where I’m going with this? What, you want me to stop? Too bad, I’m doing it right along with you. And to make it fair, I’ll share my numbers with you:

  • Hours spent watching anime (that I actually recorded): 4,004 
  • Total hours on Steam: 1556
  • Time spent on Console Games: I honestly have no idea, but it’s a lot. I’d guess at least 3 times what I have on Steam.

The horror, the horror. Yes, thinking about LNs in terms of hours, I could’ve have written over a hundred LNs in all the time I’ve spent entertaining myself.

I imagine you’re in the same boat. Do your numbers exceed mine? If so, don’t worry, it was time well spent.

I don’t regret any of the time I spent on that because I learned many things necessary for me to even write LNs because of them. Which you can learn how to do by checking out this article on how all those ‘time-wasters’ can teach you how to write.

But now that your aware of all the time you’ve spent not writing, it’s time to think about how you can spend it writing you LN instead.

That’s why you’re reading this article, isn’t it? You’re desperate to write your LN and sacrifices must be made.

So, with the reality of how much free time you actually have, let’s take a more practical approach.

Spend a week of your life or just a day writing down every single thing you do and how long you spent on each one. Literally everything, even dumb stuff.

How long you slept, the time you spend in transit, how long you spend eating, how long you sit on the can, entertaining yourself, work/school, get it all on paper.

And it will be within this list of your life that you will discover that you actually have plenty of time to write for at least 1 hour and 40 minutes a day. Here’s an example:

7:00 AMWake, Shower, Breakfast
8:00 AMWork
12:00 PMLunch
1:00 PMWork
5:00 PMDinner
6:00 PMVideo Games
9:00 PMAnime
12:00 AMRegret, Fall Asleep in Melatonin-Induced Haze

You might have some space to fit in at least a little writing…

Even better, for those of us who are smartphone addicted, put a screen time tracker on your phone and it will make you cry with the reality of how much time you spend on social media or playing gacha games that suck your very soul down the drain of poverty.

Look at each thing you do and ask yourself: can I live without this? Do I really need to take a dump while browsing Twitter for 30 minutes every day? Why does it take me an hour to buy groceries for the week? Does playing Fortnite for 3 hours straight benefit my life in any way?

I think you know the answer. So, cut out SOME of the pointless things. Again, you only need 1:40, I don’t want to completely ruin your life. Though you would be better off removing everything and writing instead, then you could be done even faster!

You get the idea, look for those places in your life where there is free time you never realized you had and reclaim it for writing time.

Ok, fine, I admit I have more free time than I thought, but what’s the point in writing my LN in a month? I want to write one, but I don’t want to kill myself trying to spit it out in a month. I don’t know if I can even write 1,000 words an hour, that sounds crazy.

Yes, yes, I know, but don’t worry, I’ve got that covered. First up is why you should write it as quickly as possible. 

Why You Need a Deadline and the Perfect Writing Schedule 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a Non-JP LN Author, thus you are not published, and thus, you have no deadline, no editor threatening to bust into your apartment, lock you in a writing cell, or threatening to fire you.

Thus, you have little incentive to write. No one is telling you to write, no one is expecting you to get done this month or five years from now. And that lack of urgency is exactly why it takes Authors so long to crank out a LN.

As you likely know, there is an organization called NaNoWriMo whose entire philosophy is based around writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. I agree wholeheartedly with their mission and thus will use (have been using) their 1-month per novel structure (not that I’ve ever participated).

I personally don’t like to think of it in terms of a month, but this is honestly the most realistically achievable time frame for most Authors. You could easily write your LN in a week if you wrote seven hours a day, but for most, that just isn’t possible. Thus, 50 hours in 30 days will suffice.

But what’s the point? Why not 37 days or 62?

Because of the lack of urgency. If you’ve no reason to write besides ‘I want to’, then you aren’t going to try very hard.

I ‘want to learn guitar’ and ‘travel the world’, but I rarely take any meaningful steps towards achieving those goals. Why? Because there’s no incentive, no urgency, no deadline.

And without those, you have no momentum. And no momentum results in you taking a year to write something you could have done in a few weeks.

Deadlines create momentum unlike any other force. They come with incentive baked into them. If you really want to fast-track publishing your LN, the first step you take is writing it, everything else follows, so you better get it done as quick as you can.

And if you’re worried about quality, don’t be. A novel written in three days will be just as trash as one written over the course of a year.

Both likely took less than a hundred hours of actual writing. Why would they be different? The excellence only appears after the editing and reworking.

When I wrote my first two LNs, I was jobless and convinced I would be dead in a ditch the next month if I didn’t create something that would get me some money.

I soon realized novel writing is not a fast way to make money, but the fear really helped in the long run. I wrote each LN in under a month because of this imaginary deadline.

You might not be in the same position as I was, but there are a few ways to create both artificial and real senses of urgency which are set by a deadline of 30 days. 

Gambling (In a Healthy Way…)

When I was 15, my dad told me I was fat. I agreed. Thus, I wanted to lose weight. But why bother? I didn’t know I was fat before he told me and it’s not like it was actively making my life worse from what I could tell. I know it’s healthier to be skinny, but can’t I just take my time getting thin?

Oh no, he says, I want to lose some weight as well, so let’s make a bet. If you lose more weight than me in a month, I’ll give you 200 bucks, an impossible to refuse proposition for a broke teenager.

And sure enough, I killed myself for those 200 bucks and managed to lose 30 pounds in thirty days. I still lost the bet, but was so much better off then I was before.

Do this with your LN. Find a friend/writing buddy/parent/betting service/Jenny Craig whoever, I don’t care and tell them you will pay them/give something away/up if you don’t write a LN in X number of days you want your deadline to be.

And believe me, if your bet is big enough, you’ll find time even if it means dragging your laptop into the bathroom.

An Accountability Partner

NNWM does this best by having a massive community where everyone keeps everyone else in check. I see how this works, but it just isn’t the same as someone you’ve actually met.

This is still possible with online friends, but I would make a point to meet them via video chat or something, just to make them a little more real. They could be an AI bot for all you know.

Have a face-to-face discussion with someone who shares a similar goal. Check in on each other every day or every week. Doing so will really help you feel like you need to get your writing done so you don’t fall behind your partner.

And even if you don’t have any Author friends, just find someone who has a goal they want to complete (everyone does) and offer to make a 30-day bet with them. You want to write your LN, maybe they need to lose some weight.

#Treat Yourself

Now that you’ve robbed yourself of all the fun things in your life (were you really having fun screaming at the computer in League of Legends?), you probably want them back.

And you can have them back. After you’ve written your LN.

Yea, this might seem a bit simple, but it works wonders.

Once me and my dad completed our 30 day death diet of eating very little and working out a lot, we swore to visit a buffet at the end of the month. And when you’ve been eating nothing but tasteless protein bars and shakes for weeks, it was paradise.

Give yourself some sort of reward to look forward to at the end of your journey. Maybe it’s a week of gaming or a trip to the beach, whatever works.

Just be sure not to indulge in anything similar during the month of writing because then it will diminish the allure of the big reward and you’ll risk losing momentum.

Deadlines are instrumental to your writing your LN in a timely manner, but still, how the heck are you supposed to reach 1000 words an hour? If you can’t do that, there’s no way you’ll get it done by your new deadline?

Well, I’ll tell you.

7 Tips to Start Writing 1,000 Words an Hour

This is the scary part. You may agree with everything I’ve said so far except this.

1,000 words an hour? How is that even possible? Many famous writers barely hit that number after a day of writing, much less in just an hour.

Oh, but it is possible. I’ve done it myself many times.

If you’re a fledgling Author, you’re actually in a much more advantageous position. Because I know I can do better and know when a sentence doesn’t flow write or I just wrote in the wrong voice or created a plot hole, I panic and try to fix it instead of writing, so I usually average 700~ an hour.

But when I wrote my first LN, as a total beginner, I wrote a little over 2000 words a day in 2-3 hours and finished the first draft in just 25 days.

And so can you by following these seven tips to speed up your writing.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Rely on Your Outline

Many Authors will tell you to never plot any part of your story in advance—to let the story and your characters develop naturally.

And they’re sort-of right. But they’re mostly liars. Rare is the Author capable of writing totally blind.

If you want to ensure you’re able to write when you sit down to do so, I suggest you have an outline of some sort.

Not a detailed one, but one that gives enough information to get you started so you can then let things progress naturally. This outline should say where your characters are, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it.

The entire outline for your whole LN should only be 1,000 words, which you can learn how to create here.

If you try writing without anything to go off of, there’s a good chance you’ll freeze and give up, so don’t be afraid to read through your outline a few times to get started or keep on track. You don’t have to follow it to the letter, just use it as grease for your brain.

2. Don’t Edit While You Write

Personally, this is my number one problem. As you write your trash first draft, you will find many errors of every variety. Typos, bad grammar, incorrect punctuation, the word ‘very’, plot holes, and so on.

Don’t worry about them. They can’t hurt you if you don’t look at them—so don’t. The second you allow them to interrupt your writing, your speed will plummet and those 50 hours will quickly turn into 100.

Write during the writing process; edit during the editing process. I know it’s difficult to just ignore something when you know it’s wrong, but all it will do is slow you down and destroy your confidence.

Crank out your LN as fast as possible so you can edit it later. It may be tempting as a breather so you can trick your brain into thinking you’re still working even though you’re not generating new content.

But at the end of your session, you’ll have only written 500 words and edited maybe 200. Editing always takes longer than writing—don’t let it ruin your flow.

I combat the desire to edit by making a quick note of it somewhere else.

For me, this is Scrivener’s many subfolders, but you can just open a notepad app and make a long list of all the issues you need to fix later.

3. Don’t Stop Writing

That’s right, don’t stop for even a second if you can help it.

Can’t think of what to write next? Jot down some nonsense and Control-Z it.

If you stop for too long, your flow will start to deteriorate. Don’t let that happen.

Obviously, you’ll occasionally be literally unable to write another word and that’s OK, stare at your blinking cursor for a few seconds and the words will follow.

Don’t let those few seconds of brain-death convince you to let your eyes or mind wander onto another topic. The cute barista girl at the café doesn’t even know you exist, so don’t fantasize about her, just write.

The longer you don’t write, the harder it is to start again. Trust me, even if you spit out buckets of drivel, it will be ok. At least some of it will be salvageable and what isn’t would’ve been cut out of the second or seventeenth draft anyway.

4. Don’t Quit Before Achieving a State of Intense Focus (Flow)

I keep mentioning flow, and this is what it is:

Whenever you do anything for an extended period, whether it be exercising, sports, drawing, whatever, you enter a state of intense focus.

I’ve heard this defined as ‘deep work’. I prefer to call it ‘Flow’ because I don’t like work…Anyway, the world disappears and you tend to lose track of time.

This happens to me every single time I write. An hour will vanish in what feels like five minutes and I’ll suddenly find I’ve written 1,000 words. I achieved Flow. 

This differs from person to person, but for me it takes about 15 minutes of forcing myself to write before I achieve Flow and then it’s super easy to keep writing.

It typically takes anywhere from 10-30 minutes for most to reach Flow. Whether it takes you shorter or longer, I implore to keep writing until you achieve Flow.

If you stop beforehand, it will be infinitely harder to hit 1K words an hour. Flow shuts your logic brain off, the one that is well aware of how many words you’ve actually typed and how it’s nowhere near 1000.

Once it leaves, you won’t worry so much and writing fast will be so much easier.

5. Take Breaks and Change Scenery

I can’t write for more than an hour at a time. Once the hour is up, I am completely drained. My brain literally shuts down and no matter how much I try to keep going, it refuses.

So, I give it a break. How?

By changing location. Don’t dare call it quits if you have additional time to write, just spend one hour at the library and another at a café.

This is how I wrote both my LNs in under a month. Taking a quick walk or goofing off for half an hour is usually all your brain needs to recuperate and crank out another thousand words.

Remember, you only need to write for 1:40 per day. The where, when, and for how long doesn’t matter at all. If you work best by splitting your writing into multiple 10-minute sessions per day—so be it.

6. Treat Writing Like a Video Game and Set Word Goals

Video games, especially RPGs, are addictive because of the reward systems they have in place. You defeat an enemy, you get EXP, but that’s not all, you also earn some money and possibly loot.

And once you butcher enough forest animals, you level up, happy music plays, you get a new ability and stronger stats. All that in an endless loop of dopamine-fueled ecstasy.

Treat writing the same way by setting world goals.

50,000 words is a terrifying number. Don’t look at it. Forget it exists.

Instead, set a world goal of 2,000 words per day—that’s what I aim for every day. Then, because 2000 is still scary, break it down into smaller blocks. 1000, 500, 100, whatever is most comfortable for you and treat it like defeating enemies for EXP.

100 words is X amount of EXP, 1,000 is halfway, 2,000 is a level up. And after you ‘level up’ enough times, you reach MAX LEVEL of 50,000 words and magically—your LN is done.

Silly, I know, but again, writing is all about getting in the right mindset, and the human brain really likes these arbitrary successes, so feel free to make use of your dopamine receptors for something productive for once.

Also, write down how much you wrote at the end of each day, this will make you feel good (or bad) that you wrote however much, and inspire you to beat your ‘score’ the next day.

7. Write Every Day

Yes, every day. The second you stop running in a race is the second everyone else blows by you and it’s nigh impossible to catch up.

Treat writing the same way.

The world won’t end if you miss a day, but it will be hard to hit that 1,667 words a day if you do.

So, put simply, make a point to write every single day until your LN is done. I’d tell you here, but you’ll find exactly how to make yourself write every day in this article.

Plus, writing your LN over a short period of time will make the editing process a million times easier. Your story, characters, and world will be super fresh in your mind. So, you’ll find it easy to maintain the same character voice and writing style, tone, and so on.

If you take a long break, I promise you, you’ll have to read what you wrote beforehand several times over before you remember how it sounded to begin with.

Basically, don’t lay down

Ok, ok, enough.

I know to treat it in terms of hours, to make a deadline, and how to write fast, but WHEN, WHEN am I supposed to do all this? Isn’t writing a novel a gargantuan effort of character design, world-building, and plot outlining? How am I to do all that AND write the actual text in just a month?

By adhering to the following schedule.

The Perfect Schedule for Writing Your Light Novel in 30 Days

Note: You’ll find a super in-depth guide on Prewriting in this article I wrote.

Let’s pretend that prewriting doesn’t count for your 30-day or however long deadline. This means you can do all the character design, world-building, and outlining at your own pace, right?


This might sound extreme, but I don’t want you to spend more than ONE DAY on each aspect of your LN. And there’s a good reason.

If you spend hours upon days upon months detailing every aspect of your LN, you’ll have committed two mistakes.

  1. You’ll have spent a whole lot of time not writing and thus have no LN.
  2. You’ll have created a sort of rulebook.

And the second is the most glaring issue.

The rulebook might help, but it mostly only serves to hinder.

When you have a million notes, you can’t help but want to stick to them. You’ve spent tons of time creating an interesting world with tons of lore and cool mechanics, so it’s hard to let them go.

But you’ll soon find you can’t figure out how to incorporate every bit of your prewriting into your actual writing. And when that happens, you’ll freeze. And well, not write, which is…um, bad.

SO, one day per portion, like so:

Day 01 – Concept

Take whatever concept /story idea you should already have (otherwise you wouldn’t be asking how long it’s going to take to write) and do your best to flesh it out.

It doesn’t have to be concrete, just get enough information for a simple plot outline of however much you need (the entire story beginning to end or just chapter one), the major characters, the world.

That’s it, you don’t have to do any more.

Day 02 – Characters

Take those few major characters, give them names and fill out a character sheet detailing the bare minimum of what you need to get them going. Name, appearance, personality, background, motivation.

That’s all you really need, minor details will pop into your head as you’re writing.

It’s OK to use tropes as much as you like, they can break out of them as you write or during the editing process.

As for other characters, just worry about them when they show up in the story. Hey, you don’t even have to worry about them in the story. Just slap a big X where their name / appearance will go.

I do this all the time and fill in the blanks during the editing phase. You’re likely to change their names and appearances several times anyway, so don’t drive yourself insane trying to get it right the first time.

Day 03 – Worldbuilding

This is where you’re forced to pick a genre and maybe a few themes.

Writing a fantasy? Better stick it in a fantasy world.

School-life? Modern day Tokyo is your best bet.

Romance? It can be anywhere, but you have to craft a world where Romance can occur. It can in an intergalactic war, but wouldn’t it be better in 19th century Paris?

Just pick a place, time, and season, whip up a few details, and forget about it.

You should do your best to create a unique setting, but it’s likely going to be generic at first until you’ve had ample writing space to flesh it out.

Day 04 – Story Outline

Again, use this article I mentioned earlier to spit out a 1,000 word story outline. Or just 100 words. It doesn’t matter. Outline as much as you need to get start writing your LN.

Day 01 of Writing to the Final Day of Your Deadline

Write. Every day. As much as you can. That’s it. Your first draft will suck bad. Deal with it. Once you’re done, you’ll be light years ahead of those who felt the need to drag out the writing process for an entire year.

Yes, You Really Can Write a Light Novel in About Three Days

We Authors like to treat writing as some sort of divine, laborious task that takes every ounce of our knowledge and dedication, but it’s nothing more than banging out a bunch of lies onto a keyboard and paying some poor editor to clean up after us.

Don’t treat it as something to fear—some wretched year-long endeavor that will gnaw at your brain every waking minute.

Just treat it a replacement for those trashy gacha games on which you’d been wasting your life.

You’re not likely to make any money off your LN until long after you write it anyway, so just think of it as another hobby you’ve picked up.

One that produce results in just 50 hours of your time. That’s 10% of the average time people spend playing Skyrim.

Three days. 50 hours. That’s literally all the time you need and should be taking to write your LN. So, go on, quit thinking in terms of scary concepts like months, but hours. Just 50 hours.

Write. Every day. For 50 hours total. And you will finally be a Light Novel Author.

This article was inspired by No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition: A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty


Hey, my name's Azuma. I first dove deep into Otaku culture in 2010 and never quite grew out of it. After a million different anime, light novels, manga, and visual novels, I learned a lot about each art form. Knowledge I want to share with you from writing advice to drawing tips. I'm also the Author of two light novels series, Garden of PSI and On Creating the Ultimate Weapon. Happy creating!

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