I take a very long time to write anything. Is this natural? I don't have a block or anything, but I feel like this is taking too long per page. On average, how long should it take to complete one page about anything? Should I get used to this feeling of dragged-out writing?

  • The question is partly what you include into the writing process. Take "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, 120,000 words allegedly written in three weeks. If he works 80 hours a week, that's 500 words an hour. But the book had been on his mind since 1947, and he revised versions from 1951 to 1957. Even though he worked on other novels during that time, that's not spectacular. Commented May 30 at 16:07
  • 1
    What suggests to you that there is some standard of productivity (in, say, words/hour) to which one must conform? And what does it mean to "finish a page"? Some writers write and write and write and then follow that with revise, revise, revise. Others edit and polish each sentence or paragraph almost as soon as it first spills onto the page. Commented May 30 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


As psychologist Paul J. Silvia has found (2017), professional writers write between a few hundred and a few thousand words* per work day. The average professional fiction writer's workday is around four to five hours long (ibid.).

Earnest Hemingway wrote around 500 words per day and wrote up to 6 hours per day (Plimpton, 1958). That is around 80 words per hour. Michael Crichton wrote around 10,000 words per day and wrote 16 hours per day, in spurts of one or two weeks (Wilford, 1960). That is around 625 words per hour. Those seem to be the upper and lower bounds for writing speed that successfully published professional writers of long form fiction report. Other types of text – short story, non-fiction, poetry, screenplays – are written at different speeds, professionally.

As a beginning writer you shouldn't worry about your prolificacy, though, as you are still honing your skills and figuring out your most efficient workflow. Focus on making writing a habit – that is, write regularly and consistently, if possible every day – and learning the craft. Your output will increase with practice.


* Since different printed pages can have different amounts of text on them, we commonly measure the length of prose texts in the number of words they consist of. An average page of fiction is assumed to have around 250 words, if you want to convert the word count numbers in my answer.

 The comments below give examples of even faster writers managing up to 20,000 words per day. All of these writers can maintain these high speeds only for a few days or weeks, though. Over all, they aren't therefore necessarily more prolific than somewhat slower writers. I mostly wanted to give you an idea of what writing speed you might expect consistently, and that, I think, lies in the range of 500 to 2,000 words per 4 to 5 hours every day.



Since the above answer may give the impression that professional writers write hundreds or even thousands of words every day, I will give you an example of what one random author's output might look like.

I'm not a professional full time writer and earn my livelihood in a job that I work at for about 30 hours every week. My writing has to fit around that and my private life (I have children), and I currently have about 2 to 4 hours every weekday to write.

I started a project to write a couple of short narratives of 10,000 to 15,000 words each in 2021. It took me until early 2024 to finish the first four stories because over most of that time I was preoccupied with founding and establishing my own business in my main job.

Here is a graph that shows my progress for each of these stories:


As you can see, I started the first story some time in 2021 and then didn't write a single word for one and a half years. You can also see that I worked on some of the stories in parallel.

My lowest daily word count was -88 words, that is, I deleted more words on that day than I added (in the graph, you can see how the line decreases again sometimes after a higher point). My highest word count was 1,846 words on one day. The mean word count on the days that I was actually writing was 318.2 words.

You can also see how my daily word count quickly increased to a consistently higher level once I had gotten into the writing again after the long hiatus, and how each story was written more quickly than the one before.

My highest wordcount ever, while working on a novel, was an average of 6,700 words per day over the course of ten days. That is, I began and finished the writing of one (shortish) novel within ten days. I wrote for 12+ hours each of those days. It was a genre novel with no literary ambition. I wrote it during a two week holiday. Another MG novel of 40,000 words took me four months from conception to submission, that is, including idea generation, research, outlining, writing, revisions etc. I worked around 5 hours per weekday on that while I was between jobs.

I think this will give you an idea what level of prolificacy you may expect as a part-time, amateur writer. Life will often get in the way of your writing, but if you stick with it, you will get some writing done.

  • I recall reading that Michael Moorcook wrote even faster than that (up to 20,000 words/day); a reference is writinginoverdrive.com/2016/08/23/… Commented May 30 at 8:18
  • @HansOlsson Yes, and indie publishers like Elle Casey write up to 20,000 words a day, as well.
    – Ben
    Commented May 30 at 9:10

Bear in mind that the rate of writing may be only very loosely connected to how the resulting work comes together.

For one extreme example, Douglas Adams' first draft of Life, The Universe, And Everything started with a 20- or 30-page scene, which he rewrote and rewrote and rewrote, and eventually became the first two lines of the book.  (Reference: a quote by Douglas in chapter 16 of Don't Panic.)  Douglas found the actual practice of writing notoriously difficult, slow, and painful — and yet the results speak for themselves.  So don't be dismayed if you have similar feelings.

On the other hand, in order to edit and rewrite, you need to have written some material to start with!  So, as other answers say, it's a good habit to get something down on paper/screen regularly, even if it's far from perfect.

(I'm no writer, but my experience in creative fields is that you need to be two different people: first, a creator, generating ideas and content freely and rapidly without filtering or worrying; and second, an editor, ruthlessly analysing and pruning and rewriting and rearranging.  The paradox is that you can't be both at once!  Thinking too analytically stifles creativity, and vice versa.  So you have to take on those roles alternately, switching and finding a rhythm that works for you.)


It depends how you write, I know I can pump out six thousands words in a couple of hours when I'm having a good day, (that is putting words on paper usually without niceties like punctuation or too much concern for spelling to be honest), and I know that I can struggle to get sixty new words on a page some days as well. When I'm not having a good writing day I edit and clean up the words from earlier sessions, it's the only way they actually become a structured narrative. A writing habit is useful, I don't have one and don't get nearly as much writing done as I would like to as a result, but it needs to fit your life not the other way around. A good start is to get something on the page every day whether notes or actual narrative. Reading what you want to write is also productive even if you can't see the results quite so immediately.


You could take a lesson from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). That is, grab the laptop, start a new document, and then just start writing. Don't fix anything. Just write. Let the words flow. The goal is a completed, 50,000-word novel in a month. That's about 2,000 words a day.

Edit later.

I know for a fact this is doable if you have an active imagination, and it fits my writing style, but it won't fit everyone.

However, some genres aren't very good for this style -- detective stories or anything else that is deeply plot driven, for instance. This is a great way to get character-driven stories, though.

But what is getting in your way? For me, social media is the worst. I can "just check Facebook" for hours. Ouch. I really should just quite social media. I'd need two more pseudonyms to publish under to cover the increased output. Do you have something in your life that is keeping you from writing?

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