Writing speed depends on several key variables.
Everybody’s different. If you want to speed up your writing so you can produce more articles, blog posts, or even book chapters, you need to pay close attention to the following factors.
What Type of Content Are You Going to Write?
Different types of content have different structures, research requirements, and in many cases, writing style requirements. All of these can impact how fast you complete the piece.
Articles are pretty straightforward. You make a claim, and then you break it up into different parts that support the claim, and then each part will have its own supporting information.
A well-written article is very easy to read.
Each subheading encourages and motivates you to read the section below it. And then, the section beneath pushes you to read the section below, and so on and so forth. The article then ends with a conclusion that sums up the main points that were covered and usually calls the reader to action.
Blog posts tend to be more episodic than articles. Given the number of words that can go into an article and readers’ expectations, this type of content can cover a wider range of information than a typical blog post.
With that said, how fast you write a blog post depends on whether it’s a researched, niche, or personal post.
A researched blog post takes the most time because you’re going to have to back up every claim that you make using your research.
A niche blog post, on the other hand, can require less research because you’re just focusing on one sub-point or one subtopic. Everything else is really just an exploration or an expansion of that subtopic.
If you write enough niche blog posts, you probably would know enough about the topic that you don’t have to do fresh research. You just need to expand a little bit or explore a previously less-discussed point of some other topic you’ve written before.
A personal blog post is the easiest to write. It usually takes way less time than a researched or niche post. How come?
You’re talking about yourself, your feelings, and your hopes and dreams. Pretty straightforward! Because since it’s all coming from the heart, you don’t really have to do much research.
Creative content can be hot or cold when it comes to speed.
If you are writing a free-form novel with just like broad plot points—and everything else is up to your imagination—you can write that type of material fairly quickly. The big danger there is that you might contradict yourself, or you might leave a lot of plot holes or ask the reader to make lots of leaps of logic.
Other types of creative work, like haiku or certain types of poetry, will slow you down because half the time, you’re paying close attention to the rules. And the other half, you’re expressing yourself.
Interview-based or Curated Content
This type of content is fairly easy to write because you just send out a list of questions to a resource person, they send it back to you, and you just need to edit.
If you are directly interviewing somebody through Google Hangouts or Zoom, even better! You just need to get the footage transcribed and edit the transcript.
Curated content is very easy as long as you’re clear as to the central theme of the different pieces of content that you have copied and pasted from other sources. You just need to give proper credit to where you got the content and make sure that you follow the theme.
Writing an academic essay can be very slow. It wouldn’t be a surprise if you took several hours to come up with 1,500 words.
Depending on the topic, academic essays require a lot of research, and you have to piece together the different bits of information that you’ve gathered into something that the professor or teaching assistant would engage with.
A lot of people are under the impression that if you’re writing about your opinion that writing 1,500 words or 2,000 words will be very easy. No, it isn’t!
While it’s true that most people have an opinion, not everybody expresses them the right way. If you want your opinion to be taken seriously, you have to back up or provide evidence for every claim you make.
Not only that, the information that you present must logically flow.
There shouldn’t be any contradictions. You shouldn’t be pulling any tricks to manipulate people’s opinions. Instead, they would just have to look at the information that you laid out based on the truth and come up with a logical conclusion that lines up with your opinion.
This is why a well-crafted opinion essay can take a long time to write. It may be 1,500 words, but depending on how much research you have to do, it can take forever to put together.
How Long Does It Take to Research the Type of Content You Will Be Writing?
A key variable for determining writing speed depends on how much research is involved. As I’ve mentioned in the different descriptions of content types above, each of these types requires different levels and, oftentimes, different kinds of research.
This might seem pretty straightforward, but once you start doing the research, your speed and getting everything together is affected by your reading speed.
On top of that, your research speed would be sped up or slowed down by how you comprehend or understand the information that you’ve found through your research.
How Well Did You Plan Your Content?
If you’re the type of person who just jumps into a writing assignment with no advanced planning, expect the process to take a little bit longer than it needed to.
A little bit of planning can go a long way. If you have a preset process that you follow based on previous experience when creating a writing plan, things will go much faster for you. The quality of your output will also probably be higher.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to wing it or just improvise and do what comes naturally, expect to go in circles and repeat steps as things become clear during the research and writing process.
How Are You Writing?
As important as the factors above are in determining your writing speed, a key chunk of your production speed is affected by how you choose to write.
The three most common ways to write are by hand, through typing, or with your voice via dictation.
Writing By Hand
When you write by hand, you hold a pen on your left or right hand and apply pen to paper.
There are several things going on. You’re thinking about what you’re going to say, and then you’re moving your hand to write.
If the thoughts come to you much faster than your hand, then there may be some ideas that you can’t quite capture, and this can be very frustrating.
In some cases, you stop to get your train of thought, and you might have to double back to where you started and restate or say again the point that you thought you missed.
This can be very frustrating because when you’re writing physically on a piece of paper, there are just so many different distractions. Writing’s not that easy when you are getting your stuff down by hand.
You have your inner voice that can be susceptible to perfectionism. You also have your hand, which might be shaking or sweaty—so that can throw you off as well. Plus, the paper that you are working with might have tactile distractions that might weaken your focus.
Writing By Typing
This is the most common way writers produce work; they get a keyboard and type away. This can apply to a desktop or a laptop computer.
When you’re typing, there is less distraction than writing by pen. But it’s very tempting to just delete the paragraph or couple of paragraphs you just finished because, in the back of your mind, you think that there’s a better way to say what you just typed out.
If you don’t get a handle on this common temptation, you can spend hours plotting along at a snail’s pace because for every two paragraphs you finish, you end up deleting and typing over one.
This is the reason why a lot of writers, no matter how experienced, can barely produce 3,000 words a day.
Writing Content With Your Voice
This is my personal favorite. This is the reason why I put up this blog!
When you write with your voice, once you cover an outline point, you can safely move on to the next point. And once you have said your piece, you move on to the next point after that.
Before you know it, you’re done! There are no second takes.
Unlike writing with a pen or typing on a keyboard, you have less temptation to go back to what you produced earlier and delete that to try to come up with some better version.
When you’re dictating, you probably forgot what you said two minutes ago. All you have is the present outline item and a faint memory of the words that came out of your mouth half a minute ago at best.
This way of writing pushes you to focus on the present moment and come up with a big-picture view of where you want the dictation to go. It gives you the emotional structure you need to keep moving forward until you’re done.
The downside is if you are a hesitant or fuzzy dictablogger, you’re going to have to spend more time editing the transcript to whip it into decent shape.
The good news is the more dictation writing practice you get, the less work the transcript will need.
How Fast Do You Type?
When you’re typing out your content, please understand that there’s a big difference between typing speed and writing speed.
A lot of people confuse the two. They believe that if somebody’s typing at the rate of 35 words per minute, that that is their writing speed. Absolutely wrong!
When you write your materials by typing them out, you are mentally editing what you are about to type and, in many cases, the words that already appear on the screen.
This slows you down quite a bit, especially if you give in to the temptation of deleting the previous few sentences because you think that there’s a better way to say them.
Also, when you are seeing the words on your screen as you type them out, you get distracted by the sound of the keys, the movement of your fingers—and if you’re not careful, you might end up writing in circles because it seems that the sentences are never good enough.
There’s always a better way to express an idea, so you end up writing in circles.
Reviewing Your Work Also Affects Writing Speed
Don’t forget what happens after you finish typing, hand-writing, or dictating: you have to look at your output. In the case of dictaphone writing, you have to inspect the transcript.
The time you take for quality control purposes must be factored into your writing speed as well.
While it’s true that dictation blogging or voice writing can speed up your production—because most people speak at a rate of 150-250 words per minute—when you factor in the transcription editing and other steps, your actual production time is actually much longer than you originally assumed.
It doesn’t matter what method you use to write; I don’t mean to discourage you.
You might be thinking that you’re just hitting your head against the wall, and there’s really nothing you can do to boost your writing speed. If it takes you several hours to produce 1,500 words, it might seem like this pace is set in stone.
Well, there are six steps you could take to speed up your writing.
You shouldn’t zip through all these six steps. Instead, master one step and then move on to the next, so you can increase your writing speed on a long-term basis.
Step # 1: Assessment
Can you write 500 words in an hour? Set a timer, lay down the instructions, and start with the research step. Move on to outlining, and then write out your piece.
Depending on the type, you may or may not be able to knock out 500 words within an hour.
Can You Write 1,000 Words in an Hour?
If you have a decent typing speed—and we’re talking about anywhere from 40 words per minute and up—you may have a shot at this.
Again, it depends on how quickly you research and how familiar you are with the topic that you’re going to be writing on.
Can You Write 2,000 Words in 3 Hours?
Longer pieces have more moving parts. They also require a higher level of internal consistency and logic.
A lot of newbie writers think that 2,000 words are easier to write if you have three hours to do it. Not necessarily.
Because if you just blast stuff out onto a page, or you just dictate like a drunk person, you’re just spouting out words. Your output might not make much sense.
It actually takes a lot more work to produce a longer piece (even though you have more time to work with) because of internal consistency and logic issues. You can’t just keep repeating the same stuff over and over again.
Step # 2: How Well Do You Know the Topic?
Level up your expertise through practice. Here’s a little secret from a veteran writer.
When you write online content, it seems that you have to become some sort of walking and talking encyclopedia.
I understand why a lot of writers are frustrated with this aspect of freelance writing—because one day, you might be talking about bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The next day, you may be talking about certain weight loss supplements. And the day after that, you may be assigned a travelogue to Florence, Italy.
While variety is the spice of life, a little bit of topic consistency can go a long way in leveling up your expertise. Of course, the most obvious way to do this is to just stop taking assignments on topics that you’re not all that familiar or comfortable with.
The more you specialize, the faster you will write because—let’s face it—how many different subtopics are there in cryptocurrency or blockchain? You know the trends. You already know how the technology works and the many different implementations out there.
You do reach a point where basically you’re just tapping into your memory banks and coming up with a different or creative way to express information that you’ve already written about several dozen times before!
That is mastery—because, by the time you reach that point, you already nailed the research. There’s really no need for a deep-level search for new information. You probably would still need to search for some of the latest developments. But when it comes to familiarity and comfort with the subject, you’re done!
So with less fear and a good understanding of the broad layout of the information involved, you can knock out the research part, which translates to more confident writing.
Let me put it this way: the more you think you know what you’re talking about, the less you research, and the faster you write.
It’s as if you’re able to string the different points of your article or blog post together because you already know what’s going to come next. You already understand the different ways of presenting this information.
Here’s another piece of good news: when you specialize, you never stop learning because you still have to pay close attention to stuff that changes or recent trends.
This is called incremental research. You’re basically just adding on to the mountain of information you already have.
And when you do this, you deepen your knowledge. And eventually, you get the opportunity to slowly move on to a related topic. You master that, and then you move on to another topic.
After all is said and done, if you have a good memory, you will be able to cover many different topics because you’ve written on them before, and you will be able to whip out content on those subjects in no time.
Step # 3: How Well Did You Organize the Content?
Everybody’s got to start somewhere. Writers begin with confusing or unclear outlines.
The good news is with practice, you will start figuring out how to lay down an outline that works best with your thinking process. This can take some time, but it’s definitely worth looking forward to. Why?
When you reach that point, you will be able to fill out your outline or dictate it at a high rate of speed, but the quality doesn’t decrease. You get this happy marriage of short production time, high volume, and high quality.
Step # 4: Be Intentional
When you’re researching and writing, don’t just do things in a free-form or open-ended way. Set some limits on yourself. Tell yourself, “I’m going to write this many blocks in an hour.”
The moment you do that, you impose a certain measure of discipline on yourself.
Now, you know, in the back of your head, that you’re not going to write so many words in one hour. But that’s okay! What’s important is you set a limit.
And the more you repeat that limit, and the more you sincerely work to meet that deadline, the better you will get and the closer you will be able to stick to the deadline.
Turn Off All Distractions
By “all,” I mean all. No social media. No emails. No notifications of any kind.
You’ve already set up a block of time; completely own that time by turning off all distractions.
Allow Yourself to Get Excited By Your Research
When you’re writing intentionally, you are allowing your writing topic to be present in the center of your mind. For that block of time that you’ve devoted to that writing project, nothing else exists.
This enables you to get a big-picture view of your writing project as you research an outline.
Research an Outline During Your Most Productive Hours
No other person on this planet knows you better than yourself.
You know the block of time in any given 24-hour period where you are most productive. This is the time where you can think clearly and piece ideas together with very little effort. This is also the time when you can look at an outline and instantly get how you’re going to write those different blocks.
Research an outline during those productive hours. Milk them for as much output as you can.
Follow and Stick to a Clear Production Flow
Some writers would skip different parts of the writing process. Most would research first, then read the materials in context. Once that’s done, they move on to the outlining and then the writing.
Other writers start with the writing. Then, they do research and then the outline.
I’m not saying that there is an ironclad one-size-fits-all sequence, but do yourself a big favor: if you notice that you’re more productive when you follow a certain sequence, stick to that. Improve on it.
Be as efficient as you can.
The more you get away from the processes that work for you, the more time you waste. Writing starts feeling like pulling teeth.
Step # 5: Discover and Stick to Your Ideal Writing Process
As I’ve mentioned above, everybody has different production flows and sequences. Understand what makes sense for you. Don’t try to copy other people.
How would you know you are using the right sequence?
You may be thinking that you’re writing quickly, but that’s not good enough. You have to pay attention to the depth of your research.
Sure, you may be able to blast out 1,500 words in ten minutes, but if your produce garbage, then you just wasted your time. The same goes with very shallow content.
You have to pay attention to the depth of your research as well as how you process different sources together. That’s how you can get a feel for the right production sequence.
Maybe you should do certain research parts first, and then read them a certain way―then outline, then go back to some research? It all depends on the depth of the research and how well you piece different materials that come from different sources.
Step # 6: Always Write Under Pressure
I didn’t say ‘write under pressure from time to time.’ I didn’t say ‘you should have a sense of urgency every once in a while.’ No.
I said: always write under pressure.
That’s right. Put yourself under some sort of forcing mechanism like a deadline or a series of events.
This way, you are forced to set a timer for each part of the writing process. You’re not just thinking this; you are actually writing it down on a document on your screen.
One part says, “Research: 10 minutes.” And then, the other part, “Reading and context: 15 minutes,” “Outlining: 20 minutes,” so on and so forth.
Now, does this mean you will be able to hit those timelines like clockwork? Of course not!
But the more pressure you put on yourself, the more you get used to it.
And eventually, things will start to fall into place, and you develop habits that will enable you to just hit those timelines consistently. That’s how you build discipline.
And then, from that point, you can reduce the amount of time you give yourself for each part until you’re able to write a lot in a very short period of time.
Skills-Building Tips So You Can Write or Dictate 1,500-10,000 Words Per Hour
You need to ask yourself these three questions repeatedly. And the more you ask these questions, the more you push yourself—and, eventually, you will do whatever it takes to go from 1,500 words per hour to much, much more.
How Good Are Your Reading Comprehension Skills?
There are all sorts of online diagnostic tools that you can use to gauge your ability to understand information. Go ahead and look for and use them.
As you go through these different diagnostics, you would notice that there are certain patterns of information that you just have a tough time working with. Look for improvement techniques or drills that you can do to help you untangle and make quick work of those types of materials.
This is all well and good, but you can’t approach this from an emotional level. You can’t just say, “Well, I’m taking all these drills, and it feels okay. I think I’m making an improvement!” No.
You have to test yourself. So you have to have a counter, and you have to read the materials and use a pre-prepared test to see if you actually understood what you read.
Reading quickly is one thing. Retaining and understanding a huge chunk of that material is another thing entirely and is much more important.
Do You Have a Reading Plan or Strategy?
If you want to be a faster writer, you need to be a faster reader. It’s important to have a reading plan or some sort of strategy so you can get through and make sense of a lot of material in a very small period of time.
Test and optimize your plan. Maybe there are rough spots? Maybe you made some sort of assumption that is very unrealistic? Whatever the case may be, test your reading plan or strategy.
Always make sure to include your review time.
So it’s one thing to take in information, but you can’t just rush to the outlining stage. You also have to review what you read and take a look at your notes.
Does it make sense? Does everything fit? Do you have some sort of big-picture view of what you just took in?
Do You Have a Daily Plan for Improving Your Writing Skills?
Every day, you should go through some sort of ritual or some drill that would touch on the following skills: reading, comprehension, outlining, note-taking, and typing or dictation speed.
It doesn’t have to be much, but they have to be well-defined and intentional.
You can’t be fuzzy about any of this. You have to know exactly what skill set your improving on and devote enough time on a day-to-day basis for it.
The Final Word on Writing 1,500 Words
1,500 words might seem like a lot if you are the average writer, but by using the skills-building steps above, you can speed up your writing speed.
The key is to decide to start and measure your progress.
Also, always keep your mind open to lessons that you may discover along the way. These are what will truly scale up your skill base that will, later on, lead to dramatic improvements in your writing speed.