Ideas vs. Time: how long does an idea take to develop?

People often ask writers and filmmakers how long they worked on their most recent project.

The mistake made is people think in terms of calendar time, instead of time spent actually working on the project. A month can go by where zero hours of work on the project happen. But on the other end of the spectrum, a week can go by where 80 or 90 hours are spent working on the project. Calendar time vs. Working time are often two different values.

This means if someone says “It took me a year to write the book” that could mean a wide range of actual time invested.

For most of my books so far, it took a year of full time effort. About 6 months to write a first draft, 6 weeks to write a second, and the rest for revisions, copyediting and promotion.

50 weeks x 40 hours = 2000 hours.

If you have an idea think hard about that number. You find similar numbers of hours for making movies, startup companies, albums, games, novels, or anything of note.

How many hours are you willing to put into delivering on your idea? 

The greatness of an idea is irrelevant if you don’t put in the hours needed to see it to fruition.

6 Responses to “Ideas vs. Time: how long does an idea take to develop?”

  1. Scott Berkun

    It’s also interesting to consider what constitutes work for a creative project.

    For most of my books I spend many hours researching and interviewing people. While this work isn’t creation, it is research and study for what I create, which is part of the time required to make a creative work.

  2. zproxy

    Some say, some ideas take up to ten years until they are ready to be put into words and action.

  3. Vivek

    As I have started implementing my new idea which I was thinking from last one year or more, but i dont know how much time it will take to make it large…

  4. Jacqueline Dagert

    This is really exciting! I don’t think you’ve taken into account what happens day to day, but still a good post.



Leave a Reply

* Required