Writing can be time-consuming, and many writers, especially those with less experience, can worry that they’re spending too long on their work.
And speed is especially relevant to freelance writers who are paid per word or per article. How quickly you write determines how much you earn each hour or day. But of course, you don't want to sacrifice quality, as this could mean you lose clients and therefore your income.
To help you understand what kind of writing speed is realistic, we’ll look at how long it typically takes professional writers to write 1,000 words. We'll also throw in some tips for achieving your desired speed.
How long does it take to write 1,000 words?
The quick answer is that your typical professional copywriter is often able to research and write a 1000-word article in around one to two hours. However, this writing speed does require some confidence and efficiency.
If it seems faster than you could manage, there’s no need to feel bad about it, as it’s by no means a one-size-fits-all calculation. In fact, there are a number of factors that can speed up or slow down writing, including:
When starting out in their content writing career, a beginner writer can take three to four hours to write a typical 1000-word article. If you’re at this stage, it can feel frustrating to hear about experienced writers working much faster than you.
However, working at this pace is a natural part of your development. At this stage, it’s better to focus on quality over quantity; you will naturally learn to speed up your process as you go.
Level of research needed
The amount of research required depends heavily on the subject matter. With more technical subjects or academic writing, the research can sometimes take longer than the writing itself.
But other times, such as with opinion pieces or subjects the writer already has a lot of knowledge about, the reduced need for research means the entire writing process is much faster.
If you're a beginner writer, it’s good to stick to topics you’re already knowledgeable about, so your process isn’t being slowed down by having to do too much research. But where research can help, it’s important to put the time in and get it right—as you become a better writer, you’ll also become a faster researcher.
When you’re in the zone and know exactly how you want to shape the next sentence or two, then a slow typing speed can cause problems. If your fingers aren’t able to keep up with your brain, then you might forget what you were planning to say and stall mid-sentence.
But typing, like research, is a skill you’ll get faster at as you build experience. If you are worried about your typing skills, look up typing exercises and games online to improve your speed.
The intended audience
One thing that can slow down inexperienced writers is tailoring their content to a specific audience. Whether you’re writing a technical essay for a scientific publication or a casual how-to guide for a lifestyle brand, there’s always appropriate terminology you need to use and a tone you need to hit.
If you’re used to writing in a particular way, it can be difficult to adapt yourself to a new client with its own niche audience. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the house style by reading other articles from the same outlet before starting out. The more you write for an audience, the more naturally it’ll come.
How good is the brief
With many commissioned articles, the writer will be given a detailed brief by their client, or a template to work from. The more detailed the brief, the more time it will save the writer. If the structure of the article has already been laid out, that will save the writer significant time when it comes to working out how to approach the article. A good brief can also explain the tone required and even give leads on research.
With a less detailed brief, you will have to spend more time working out how to approach your article. How detailed a brief is can vary a lot from job to job, and of course, if it’s an article you’ve pitched yourself or your own project, you may not have one at all.
One major factor that affects how long it takes to write an article is how much the writer is able to concentrate on it. Allowing yourself to be distracted can make a two-hour exercise stretch out into four hours.
While some distractions can’t be helped, especially if you’re in a busy environment, it’s best to make time where you can concentrate on just your writing. Then you’ll have more time later to deal with other things.
7 Tips to Cut Your Writing Time Down
Tip One: Write an outline
If you start writing an article with no plan for how it will be structured, you’re likely to encounter problems. You could find yourself stalled with no idea what to do next, or even going back and rewriting sections.
By writing an outline of your article before starting, you can save yourself a lot of time. This can be as brief or as detailed as you like, as long as you work out the key structure of the article and which points are made in which sections.
A common structure for a 1000-word article is to assign 100 words each to the introduction and conclusion, with four 200-word sections in between.
Tip Two: Cut out distractions
The more you can reduce the amount of things that could potentially distract you, the more you can focus on your writing. Keep a clean and tidy writing space, ideally somewhere quiet. Put your phone away, close down unrelated browser tabs and apps such as social media or email, and put your word process on full-screen mode.
If you’re struggling to avoid distractions, then you may want to look into alternative writing software with focus modes, or to try out focus techniques such as the pomodoro technique. This is where you alternate 25-minute sessions of strict focus with five-minute breaks where you can allow yourself to get a snack or look at Twitter. By giving yourself these breaks, you reduce the urge to do other things while writing.
Tip Three: Do all your research first
If you’re writing about a subject that requires a lot of research, then don’t dive headfirst into the writing. You’ll find yourself stalling a lot and having to check things elsewhere, which will slow down your process. And, if it’s clear from the writing that you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll end up having to rewrite.
So, it’s important to set aside time to do all your research in advance. This may feel like a time-consuming process when you want to be writing, but you’ll save a lot of time later. With a solid bank of research to refer to as you write, the process will be smooth and efficient, and your writing will be more confident.
If your research involves contacting experts, make sure you leave enough time for them to respond, ideally a few days, after you’ve reached out to them. You don’t want to have to delay writing your article because you’re waiting for an email back.
Tip Four: Don’t worry about a perfect first draft
When you’re writing, it can be easy to obsess over getting every word right. But if, every time you finish a sentence, you go back and reword that sentence again and again until it’s perfect, you’ll end up spending a lot of time making not much progress.
A good maxim is “don’t get it right, get it written.” The process of rewriting is much easier and faster once you have the entire article written, and you’ll feel much better about it thanks to having a complete draft.
This also allows you to make bigger changes before dealing with the small things—there’s no point fretting over getting a sentence right when you may end up changing the whole paragraph later.
Tip Five: Query issues in the brief
If something is unclear or unspecified in an article brief, you may be tempted to work it out for yourself and just get on with it. However, it’s always better to check anything you’re unsure about with the editor or client first.
The time saved by not asking will be more than canceled out by the time wasted if you make a wrong assumption and are later asked to rewrite.
Tip Six: Write in your most productive hours
How much a writer is able to concentrate on their writing can vary over the course of the day, and the ideal time to write is different for everyone. You may find it easiest to concentrate when there are less potential distractions, such as early in the morning or late at night. Or you may work better fitting your writing into a more traditional workday schedule.
Granted, this won’t always be possible for writers with less flexibility, such as those working around another job or with family commitments. However, the more you’re able to schedule regular writing hours at a time that works for you, the more productive you’ll find yourself to be.
Tip Seven: Work out your own process
One of the most useful pieces of advice a writer can be given is to take the advice they want to take. That’s not to say you should dismiss guidance on a whim, but that, instead of taking any one prescribed writing process as gospel, you should try out a number of techniques.
Everyone works differently. For example, some writers outline their work in great detail before starting a draft, while others barely outline at all. As you experiment, you’ll find yourself naturally inclined to a process that works best for you.
Trust your instincts—the more you write, the more you’ll learn what process works best for you, and the more confident and faster a writer you’ll become.
The answer to the question “how long does it take to write 1000 words?” is: it varies. While a professional writer will often complete an article in an hour or two, beginners may take twice as long, and there are multiple factors that may make it take longer, such as the level of research required and the amount of detail in the brief.
While it’s better to aim for quality rather than quantity when starting out on your writing career, hopefully our tips will be able to help you increase your average writing speed. As you exercise your writing muscles regularly, you’ll find your ideal writing process, and become a faster and more efficient writer.
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