How Long Did It Take To Write Harry Potter?

Aspiring novelists tend to hold themselves to the standards set by their favorite writers, often to their dismay. How long did it take to write Harry Potter ? you wonder, as you type your umpteenth bad sentence of the day. Try to look it up, and you'll find dozens of articles telling you that it only takes six months to one year to write a novel. NaNoWriMo, that wonderful annual tradition, challenges you to put down 50,000 words in 30 days, but editing — read: re-writing — your book can exponentially increase the amount of time it takes to finish your book.

A new infographic from lists 30 beloved novels, their word count, and how long it took to write them. All told, the authors listed spent about 90 years, 3-and-a-half months writing their novels. That averages out to a negligible smidge over 3 years, but four writers on's list took more than 10 years to finish their books. Four others finished their — much shorter — novels in less than one month.

So how long did it take to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? J.K. Rowling worked on her first novel for six years. That's longer than George R.R. Martin took to write A Game of Thrones . What's more, Rowling had six more books to write about Harry, Hermione, and Ron before her series was complete. Talk about dedication to the craft.

But she had a baby! you protest. And you have a job, college classes, a chronic illness, a partner, two dogs, six cats, a social life — the possibilities are endless. Put simply, just about anything can derail progress on your first novel. Every author writes at her own pace, so there's no reason to beat yourself up if you don't finish when you "should."

Check out's infographic to find out how long it took to write Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Catcher in the Rye, and more of your favorite novels.

Image: Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images