I wrote this in fifteen minutes.

How fast can you write? Most new writers slog over their writing. They spend five-minutes writing a single sentence. They stare at the screen, composing in their heads.

Yes, some pros do that too, but as a group, professional writers write fast (or at least faster than you).


Photo by Mohammed Al-Sultan

How Long Does it Take to Write a Novel?

Let's say you're writing a novel. How long does it take you to write the first draft?

As Stephen Koch mentions in the best writing book I've read, Stephen King says you shouldn't take longer than a single season to write your first draft. If a season is three months and you're writing a 120,000 word novel, that's 1,333 words a day. 1,500 if you take one day a week off.

No big deal, right? Not if you write fast. Is Spring going to be the season you write your novel?

How Long Does it Take to Write a Short Story?

How long should it take you to write the first draft of a short story? Eudora Welty, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Optimists Daughter, said:

My ideal way to write a short story is to write the whole first draft through in one sitting, then work as long as it takes on revisions, and then write the final version all in one, so that in the end the whole thing amounts to one long sustained effort.

The average short story is three to five thousand words, but you can write that in one sitting, right? You can if you write fast. Is today going to be the day you write your short story?

How Long Does it Take to Write a Screenplay?

My screenwriting professor in college, a man who wrote several movie scripts and hundreds of scripts for television, said he wrote first drafts of screenplays in three days.

That's about thirty pages a day. He called them flash drafts.

This is a long weekend. Is this the weekend you write your screenplay?

Writing Fast Leads to Revision

Editing is slow, painstaking work, but writing a first draft should be fun. Let your spirit loose. Let your hair down. This is improvisational jazz not orchestrated classical.

If you want to break through writer's block, write faster.

If you want to finally finish your book, write faster.

If you want to be a pro, write faster.

Write faster not because fast writing is always good writing, but because it's good enough to get you to the real work. I wrote this post in fifteen minutes, but I spent another thirty minutes revising. All good writing is re-writing.

Do you write fast? Why or why not?


Write fast for fifteen minutes.

You can work on your latest work in progress or something new, but see how many words you can write in fifteen minutes. And if you post, please be sure to comment on a few posts by other writers.

Good luck!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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