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December 23, 2020

            How much time does it take to write…whatever?

            This is a question that comes up a lot on the Facebook writing forums.

            When I think about it, for a beginning writer, it’s a good question. However, for those already into it, not so much.

            Before we go on, you may wonder the disparity in my two answers. I’ll get to that in a moment.


            Everything takes time, no matter what it is. Writing is no exception. It’s taking time to write this article. How much? I can tell you that the average time it takes me to write one of these articles, which average 800-1200 words is about twenty minutes.

            So what?

            That’s a big question.

            Why would anyone care?

            How about a short story of say 4,000 words?

            On average, it takes me about an hour for the initial draft.

            A novel?

            It used to take me about six months because I had plenty of extra time at my job. Now that I have to do it at home on my own, it can take up to two years.

            How many words?

            65K to 130K or thereabouts.

            Now that I’ve given you actual statistics, once again, who cares?


            When new writers are starting out, many want to know how hard it is. They also want to know how much time they must invest in something to compare with where they are.

            They also want to know if they’re spinning their wheels on something they’re working on.

            They want to know if their pace is too long or too short.

            This would seem like legitimate questions. It is, to a point.


            First off, to me, the speed in which you write isn’t a competition. It isn’t a measurement of your worth, or of how much better or worse you are compared to someone else. If you think that way, writing may not be a passion for you. It may be a sport or a hobby.

            If writing is a true passion…

            You’re going to be compelled to write regardless of time.

            If you’re looking at time because you’re worried you’re in a rut, or because you think you have a problem that needs to be addressed, that’s only natural.

            Time management can be a part of the learning process.

            However, when it’s being used as a competition process, or to measure up against someone else, here again, you’re turning it into an ugly sport instead of a pleasure and a passion. That’s not good.


            The most infamous contest, which I’ve discussed here at Fred Central before, comes up once a year and it’s a great way to hone your chops and to see if you can do it.

            On the other hand, why do it at all? Why write a full novel in a month? Why churn out something instead of taking your time, doing it right, doing it for fun instead of under pressure?

            To me, that’s once again turning it into an ugly sport.

            If you’re competitive minded, I guess that feeds your competitiveness. I sincerely hope it also feeds your passion for writing as well.

            I’ve never had even an inkling of desire to participate in something like that.

            I have my own pace and my own passion, and no speed contest has ever even entered my radar. I personally find it destructive, but that’s just me.

            If it encourages other writers, I’m all for it, even if I find it personally demotivating.


            Even though I’ve answered the technical side of how long it usually takes me to write something, the answer I give on the forums is always the same.

            When someone asks how long it takes to write this or that, I always say:

            “As long as it takes.”



            There’s no way to gauge how someone writes. Everyone’s different. You can’t standardize the capabilities of any one person. A five-hundred word essay is not going to take everyone the same number of minutes, hours, or days to write.

            It all depends on the person’s skill level, inspiration, and passion to write it.

            This is not a speed contest, like some new writers seem to think.

            This is about quality and passion.

            Why is that so hard to comprehend?

            Happy writing!

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