From CEOs of multinational corporations to college students, virtually everyone has faced a lengthy writing task at some point in their lives. Compared to the standard e-mail, something like a two-page document can seem daunting, especially to a newer writer who has no idea where to start.
One of the most common questions they ask remains: "How long will it take to write 500 words?"
This number might seem arbitrary, yet it's a standard milestone that many clients will request. 500 words of copy results in two complete pages (when double-spaced) and is generally enough to cover your average book report, short blog post, company announcement, and other standard documents.
Of course, writing skills are a work-in-progress for most people, and the time it takes to complete these tasks can vary widely between individuals. As such, you might still have some questions regarding how to be effective at it.
Don't worry; we have answers.
Depending on how well you know the subject, you may be able to write 500 words in an hour. But if you don’t know it very well, the odds that you can do that are pretty slim.
You've likely already searched things like, "How long does it take to write an essay?" during your school years.
Since most of these school assignments were given rather than chosen, you'll find the process a bit different once you're writing 500-word pieces for your marketing team, blog, or other business-related material.
Fortunately, this is a relatively easy starting point for most writers — especially newer ones. As an example, when compared to a 12,000-word dissertation, you can expect the time required for 500 words to be far more reasonable.
The only honest answer to this is: it depends.
Ultimately, writing speed is an incredibly variable skill that differs from person to person. Like author Stephen King, some people can shell out over 2,000 words per day, whereas others might need up to a week to accomplish the same feat.
Some factors that can impact speed include:
· Reading comprehension: Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin. Dedicating time to solely one of the two can only get you so far, as they work in unison to increase your comprehension.
· Typing skills: Physical traits can also impact how long it takes you to get your words on paper. If you've been using a keyboard since you were a child, you might be able to draft a blog post in half the time it takes a tech-newbie to do the same.
· Research and planning: If you're writing a piece that requires links, statistics, and references, you'll drastically reduce your completion time by finding your sources beforehand and keeping them readily accessible.
· Editing and review: No piece should leave your computer without at least one round of edits and a final evaluation. Editing is another skill by itself — one that is faster to complete for some — and can also determine the time it takes to finish a 500-word document.
Not the news you were hoping to hear? Don't worry; you're not alone. For many, writing can seem like a mysterious obstacle with no clear finish line. It's not exactly a hard science you can solve through equations, making it even more daunting to someone hesitant to touch their keyboard.
Still, if you are looking for a statistic to inform your efforts, a 2020 study from Orbit Media discovered it takes approximately four hours for a blogger to finish a typical blog post. Even the word count varies, though, because modern posts average a length of 1,416 words.
But don't get discouraged. Writing is a muscle, and like the ones in your body, it can be trained, strengthened, and improved with some work.
Whether you're wondering if you can write 500 words in an hour to meet an upcoming deadline or increase your free time, learning how to draft a piece more quickly is always a skill worth learning.
By learning to do this, you can improve your output and supply your business with more blog posts that drive engagement, improve customer retention, and keep you one step ahead of the competition. Data suggests 11+ monthly blog posts (three to four per week) are a sweet spot for improving organic traffic and increasing brand awareness. With a faster writing speed, you could easily match this range and reap the benefits moving forward.
Let's get into some of the methods you can use to improve that writing muscle and never stress about a deadline again.
Before you begin your first draft, ask yourself this: In what ways is writing different than hiking?
Physical distinctions aside, let's think a little more about the two activities and their similarities. Just as you're wondering how long will it take to write 500 words, you'd also think about how long it would take to hike a new path. Sure, you might find an estimated completion time on the internet, yet the outcome for both journeys depends on one thing.
Experienced hikers know not to step onto a path without first completing this crucial step. Even before they've left the house, they've researched the trail to know what to expect, asked for advice from other adventurers, packed their bags with supplies to remain energized throughout the trek, and much more.
To keep your output as quick and high-quality as possible, you must adopt the same approach with your writing.
Fortunately, writing is a lot less physically intensive, yet your preparation shouldn't waver as a result. From learning how long it takes to write an essay to developing a marketing report, almost any piece will benefit from your "preproduction" efforts. The more time you spend on this part, the quicker you can expect the actual writing process to be.
So, what steps should you follow to help streamline the writing stage?
1. Research your topic: This part might seem self-explanatory, but you'd be surprised to learn how many people open a blank document with only a whisper of an idea in their heads.
Though this approach might be the best route for some in creative writing, business-related pieces (i.e., blog posts, press releases, etc.) usually require a healthy level of planning to be executed efficiently. So, even before moving on to the next step, you should pause to make sure you know what you want to write about and why.
Don't be afraid to brainstorm a few different approaches and, most importantly, perform some research to ensure it isn't an idea that's been done too many times already (or one that's too niche).
If you’re not sure what your topic should be, you can always go to Google and start typing things in to get ideas from their auto-suggestions that pop up beneath the search field. This will give you an idea of things that people are actually searching for. If it shows up in Google auto-suggest, it means that someone has searched for that question for the past 30 to 90 days.
Another way to find ideas is to use a website such as AnswerThePublic.com (available for free or as a paid subscription) to find questions that people are asking about the topic you’re interested in writing about.
From here, you can gather ideas on what type of content you want to create, whether it’s a how to article, a list or checklist, a review of a product or service, a comparison post, news, or even a roundup post of the top this or that concerning your topic.
After deciding what type of content you want to create, you can use the data that you find on AnswerThePublic or in Google auto-suggest to create your outline.
2. Create your outline: After your initial brainstorming session, you might be eager to jump into things right away and start writing.
But beware! As tempting as this is, it's also a surefire way to slam straight a mental roadblock. Just as a hiker uses trail markers, maps, or a GPS to find their way, you also need a roadmap to inform your writing.
Your main topic should be your headline and it should be some variation of a keyword you found in Google auto-suggest or AnswerThePublic. The reason for this is to be sure that what you’re writing about is something people are actually searching for. Just don’t make the mistake of creating a purely clickbait headline, because people usually feel misled when they figure out your content isn’t what they thought it would be.
Something else you can do while building your outline is look at what other websites that have covered your topic have to say about it. Take ideas from the best pieces of content out there and work on making them better when you incorporate them into your content.
Now, here's the thing — an outline can be as detailed as you want it to be. If you can craft a brief list of ideas you want to cover, that's great! Or, if you'd be more comfortable with a fully detailed guideline fit with pictures, links, and more, feel free to do so. Whatever works best for you!
You'll be set up for success as long as you have a reference to turn to when you feel stuck.
3. Try multitasking: Performing steps one and two separately is the best idea for your first time around.
However, once you've grown more comfortable with the process, consider completing both at the same time by outlining your piece while you're brainstorming the idea. Doing so can help you cut down on your preparation time so that you can get to the fun part more quickly!
If you want to research and outline at the same time, you can take the suggestions from Google or AnswerThePublic and insert them into a text document, then arrange them in a logical order as you go.
Want to know the one thing that will almost certainly prevent you from improving your writing speeds?
It's simple: perfection.
If you're wondering whether you can write 500 words in an hour while attempting to make an error-free first draft, the answer is a solid no.
The idea that you will make mistakes is one of the most challenging concepts to grasp for newer writers. After all, isn't the point of writing to be as clean as possible, ensuring you maintain proper grammar and spelling?
This is true, but here's the secret: you create clean writing in editing.
Even the most remarkable, flawless book, article, or blog post you've ever read began as a messy first draft. The most effective writers only spend 25 percent of their time writing; the remaining 75 percent of their time is reserved for planning and revising.
That means that your drafting process should involve virtually zero editing. Doing so is likely to keep you from settling into a writing rhythm and it becomes a distraction. Continuing with our hiking metaphor, it would be as if our mountaineer randomly took five steps backward every three minutes. It simply keeps them from reaching the end goal.
So, don't be afraid to get messy! Even if you make a mistake (trust us, there will be plenty), resist the urge to fix it and keep going, as you can always revise it later.
While revising can serve as a mental distraction, you'll also want to beware of the physical ones within the environment you choose to write in.
Unfortunately, dealing with distractions can be more challenging depending on your current situation. For instance, you might be stuck working from home alongside a collection of unruly children or seated in an open office where conversations occur nearby (thankfully, noise-canceling headphones exist!).
Still, there are a few easy "no-no's" you can eliminate without much issue. These include:
· Phones: This is probably the most common distraction, not solely for writers, and one of the most difficult to resist. The easiest solution is to physically remove yourself from your device, preferably by placing it in another room. But, if you must have it nearby, at least put it on Do Not Disturb mode to prevent unnecessary notifications that could interrupt your writing groove.
· Computers: Alright, this one is a bit harder to solve since most writers do their work on a computer. Consider using a website-blocking browser extension to maintain focus since the urge to click on a new tab and accidentally waste hours skimming another website is a common challenge. Additionally, have your notes pre-loaded onto another document, so you don't have to waste time looking for them halfway through the session.
· Posture: It's something you might barely think about, yet your posture can have a lasting impact on your writing speed. If seated in an improper position, you could suffer from back pain and other aches that distract you from the task at hand. So, be sure you have a seat that allows your back to remain straight and supported. It would also be best to have a desk that keeps your forearms resting in a relaxed, L-shaped position.
· TV/Music: Even though many people try to work with the TV on or while listening to music, this is usually only a distraction. Some multitasking is great, but watching TV while you’re writing content will slow you down. If you require some background noise, listening to music that has no lyrics can fulfill that need without being a distraction.
Of course, if possible, the most optimal solution would be to find a calm, comfortable environment with few physical distractions. Remember: a hiker isn't going to be on their phone the entire hike — they'll be too busy enjoying the experience!
In this article, we went over some of the ways you can improve your writing skills and complete the first draft quicker than ever. Whether you wanted to know how long it takes to write an essay or a lengthy business report, these included:
· Brainstorming and preparing a detailed outline beforehand
· Ignoring the urge to be perfect during your drafting process
· Eliminating distractions to keep yourself focused when writing
By putting these methods into practice, you can create more material for your business, blog, and any other outlet that deserves to be graced with your writing!
Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.