Stephenie Meyer wrote “Twilight” in three months. Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” over the course of a few rainy days. The folks over at NaNoWriMo tell you to do it in a month. At least the NaNoWriMo folks don’t tell you to expect it’ll be good after a month.
It’s possible to write a draft in a short space of time, but a really good novel requires much more time and effort. I speak from personal experience. I’m a plodder. I take years to complete a work. As far as I can tell, most writers are the same. Novels are complicated, and require a tremendous balancing act. It’s the rare exceptional writer who can create excellent prose in a few short weeks. Mary Shelley is an obvious exception.
My first novel was drafted in a month, and then revised over the course of three months a year after the draft was completed. It was sold somewhere in-between those three months of revision. But that novel had a previous inception as a completely different story years before, so I had been thinking about it for years prior to writing that draft. And in the year that I put it away, I was still working out story problems in my mind. That all still counts as writing time. James Cameron recently announced that he was going to write a prequel to Avatar as a novel and that it would be ready for publication by the end of this year. That seems awful fast until you think about the many years he spent dreaming up the story in the first place.
Good writing takes time. A lot of time.