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How Long Does It Take To Write An Article?

how long is a piece of string

How long is a piece of string?

Good morning! I’m curious about how long it takes the avg writer to finish a magazine article from start to finish

Lisa Gant via twitter

Hi Lisa,

I like your website! It looks good.

This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string,’ or ‘how high is up’ questions. I can write a 500-600 word article about freelance writing in maybe 20 minutes because I know the topic well. But a 1,000 or 1,200 feature for something like Writer’s Digest might take me two or three several hour sessions. To do an interview and write an article takes even longer because of the interview process.

You could, I suppose, define three or four types of articles, including title, market, typical reader and word count and run a survey. If you did I’d bet the answers would be all over the map.

It’s also a hard truth that some writers are simply faster than others for whatever reason. I know that from being inside at both magazines and newspapers. Plus, there are days when it takes me twice as long as on others.

And typing fast turns out to be way more important than I would have every guessed.  John Soares has a post called 8 Ways To Increase The Joy of Writing. One of his suggestions is to learn to type fast. What’s really surprising is the comments about fast typing and how many writers agree that it really helps the writing process. Who knew?

A better question is for you to know how long it usually takes you to write one sort of article or another. When you know that you can begin to set your rates and make deadline promises that make sense for you.

So, how do you estimate how much time it will take you to write a piece?

Got a question? Contact me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll try to answer it.


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Anne has good advice here Lisa. In addition to my suggestion to learn to type fast (thanks for the shout-out Anne!), it’s also very important to have a detailed outline of what you’ll cover in your article.
    John Soares recently posted..8 Ways to Increase the Joy of WritingMy Profile

    • John loves detailed outlines… I tend to work with lists rather than outlines, although I will admit to indenting the subheads… my real point is to suggest not getting caught up in the outlining process. I find a list works for me.

  • Hi, Anne. Wow! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question, not only on Twitter but in the form of a blog post as well. I’m also glad you liked my website.

    In retrospect, I definitely see how vague my question was, as there is no “one size fits all” article writing method. I suppose I wanted a benchmark to go by. Sometimes when a potential client asks how long it will take me to write an article, I get stuck, especially if I’m unfamiliar with the subject matter.

    I like your suggestion of focusing on different types of articles and coming up with estimates that way, rather than going with something general across the board. That definitely sounds more effective than the wet-finger-in-the-air technique I’ve been using 🙂

    Thanks again for all the great advice and the shout-out!

    • Anne

      You’re welcome, and yes, you’re on exactly the right track. With experience it gets easier.

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