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How To Write 1200 Word Essay

Writing is the bottleneck.

Not for everyone… but for a lot of people – particularly who are involved in any kind of blogging or content creation. It’s time-consuming, which keeps you from creating all the content that you want to create. And it’s frustrating, which prevents you from expressing your ideas as compellingly as you like.

Except… it doesn’t have to be that way.

My blog posts are usually between 1,200 and 1,400 words long, and I usually spend 60-90 minutes writing them. Often I’ll write two blog posts in a morning, and then spend the rest of the day on other things. That’s how I wrote 80+ guest posts in less than a year, and it’s why people started calling me the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”.

Is it because I’m some kind of writing genius? I wish, but sadly, no. ;-) It’s because of the process, and it’ll work as well for you as it does for me…

Defeating the blank screen with ruthless proceduralization

When most people write, they do it all wrong. They fire up their word processor, create a new document, and try to decide what their first sentence will be.

Big mistake.

See, if you start by staring at the blank screen, you’ve already lost. It may seem counter-intuitive, but we’re often most creative, and most effective, when working within very tight parameters.

By the same token, writing works best when you take the guess-work out of it. This is done by developing procedures for everything; straight from coming up with the angle, to writing the last word of the post. That way, we avoid wasting energy and thought on stuff that isn’t relevant or useful at all, and divert it all towards the goal of excellent and effective writing.

That’s what I do, and it works like a charm, every time. Here’s my process:

  • Start with the headline – this gives you a solid grasp on the scope of your post, and ensures that everything you write after the headline will be relevant and on-topic.
  • Then write the hook – this is the first few paragraphs of the post, that will grab the reader’s attention and focus their attention on reading through to the end.
  • Outline the rest of the post – create sub-heads for each of the sections, with a short note of what will go in each section.
  • Write the post – you’ll be amazed at how easy it is if you followed the first steps, because there’s no more guesswork!

Okay, let’s explore this process, one step at a time…

Start with the headline

You’ve probably already heard that the headline is the most important part of the post, and that serious writers spend as much time writing the headline as they do writing everything else combined. Which is true, but most people don’t understand what that really means.

See, writing a good headline isn’t just about choosing the words that will grab the reader’s attention – it’s about choosing the angle for the post, that will genuinely interest them. That’s what the headline is really about: the angle of the post. And by writing it first, you guarantee that you will stay focused on your actual topic, stay relevant, and not get lost on a tangent somewhere along the way. So how do you write a great headline?

First, of course, you need an idea. There are lots of good ways to find those; you can lean on your Assess, Decide and Do buckets brimming with good ones to write about, or try one of 21 great content ideas as a starting point. For starters, you should know that this is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Take a few minutes to see which posts have been very popular with your target audience (i.e. on the blogs that they actually read). Do they like list posts (## ways to SOMETHING)? How-to posts (How to SOMETHING)? Comparison headlines (How SOMETHING is like SOMETHING)?

Find a few formulas that are proven with your target audience, and stick with them. It’s really that simple!

Write the hook and outline the post

Next, you have to write the hook and outline the main sections of the post. A good hook describes the symptoms of the problem that your post is going to solve. Really hammer home the pain and difficulty that the problem causes, and then pivot to say that you’ve got a solution.

It sounds simple, because it is, and it works like a charm, every time (go back to the top and read the opening section of this post as an example). Then you can go ahead and outline the rest of the post. The four main sections that you’re going to want after the hook are:

  1. The problem that is causing the symptoms
  2. The underlying cause of that problem
  3. The solution to the problem
  4. How the reader can implement your solution

Almost all of my posts follow this structure, and the beauty is that rather than making your posts seem formulaic, it gives you the space to make the posts truly detailed, in-depth, and valuable to the reader. For each section, just write the sub-head for each section, and a few notes about what you’re going to put under it. Give enough information in the heading that readers who skim will have an idea what the section is about.

Now that we’ve outlined the whole post, it’s time to do the actual writing…

Write the post (this is the easy part!)

The great news is that by this point, you’ve already done all the heavy lifting, and the hard part is over! If you’ve really outlined the entire post, the rest is really easy. All you have to do is go section by section, expanding on your notes, adding appropriate links, and delivering the information that you promised in the headline, hook and section headings.

The beauty of this method is that by this point, you already know what you need to write! Your brain is ready and waiting with the information, and all you have to do is spell it out. Once you’ve got the sections fleshed out, do a quick proofread for spelling, grammar and flow, then hit save, and you’re done!

I’m not kidding when I say that filling in the entire body of the post can take less than half an hour – try it and see for yourself! And the very best part of this process is that it can be done in batches…

Works well with batching, too!

You don’t have to do one post at a time, either – you can do them in batches (that’s how I routinely write guest posts these days).

Write all the headlines, create all the hooks, and then go do the section headings for each post, one by one. Once you add the body paragraphs to each post – bang! You’ve just written an entire week’s worth of content (assuming you post daily) in one morning!

You’ll be writing post like a speed demon. Or, *ahem* like the Freddy Krueger of Blogging.

Actually, if you apply this process to your writing, you could even become the next Freddy Krueger of blogging. That’s what my Write like Freddy training program is all about – this very same process, but amped up to the Nth degree.


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Oh wow! That’s a tough question. It depends on a whole lot of things. At the same time, you shouldn’t be intimidated. 1,000 words is actually a relatively short piece. A dissertation would usually be in the region of 12,000 words, and university assignments can stretch to essays of 5,000 words. No matter what your assigned word count may be, some of the things that will influence the time it takes to write the essay include:

How long does it take to research an essay?

If you’re writing an opinion piece on something you already have some knowledge about, you may not have to do any research at all. It may just be a matter of organizing your existing thoughts into a coherent essay. If you need to find out about a topic before you begin to write, you can easily get information on certain topics, whilst others will be more obscure and therefore more difficult to research. Clearly, the easier it is to find information, the faster you can write.

How good are your reading comprehension skills?

Some of us can just skim a piece and pick up all the salient points. Others will have to read with more attention, and even re-read a piece several times to extract the information we need. Having good reading and comprehension skills makes writing much faster since you’re able to “get” the facts faster and organize them better. Now you know why you had to do so many reading comprehension tests at school.

How well did you plan?

Throwing yourself headlong at a 1,000-word essay and writing till you reach the word count may seem like the easy option, but it isn’t. Planning your essay so that it begins with an introduction, highlights the most important points you want to make and then wraps everything up into a conclusion actually saves you time. Sometimes, essay instructions will tell you how to structure the piece, so read them carefully and extract any information you can use to guide your essay’s structure.

How fast do you type?

Have you ever gotten lost halfway through a sentence? You know what you wanted to say, but halfway through, the thought slips away from you. The faster you can type, the more easily you can capture thoughts before your mind moves onto the next thing and you forget what you were trying to say. Typing skills are essential in the modern world. Consider using typing games to improve your speed.

How long does it take me to write a 1,000-word essay?

Faster isn’t always better. The more in-depth your report is meant to be, the longer you should spend on it. I can usually research and write a fairly technical magazine article of 1,000 words in three hours, but do remember that I’m a professional writer. I’m fast because I write all day, every day.

The longest I’ve ever spent on a 1,000-word article was 12 hours. It was absolutely brutal! The information I needed to gather was very technical, hard to find, and even more difficult to understand, and you can’t write something until you really understand the subject matter. I also had to contact experts for their opinions, but I couldn’t even ask about their opinions until I could target them with the right questions. As a result, I actually had to write most of the article before slotting in the expert comment.

The quickest I’ve ever written a 1,000-word article is one hour. In this case, I already knew the subject matter well and didn’t have to back up every fact in the essay with references.

Reviewing your work also matters

If you’re writing for grades and want a good one, you need a really good essay. Don’t start writing it the day before you have to hand it in. Try and get your first draft down at least a day or two before you have to submit your work. Then return to it and do your editing. Read your essay aloud to yourself, since this will help you pick up any careless errors you wouldn’t otherwise spot. Check to see if your information flows logically from one point to the next and make sure that you’ve presented your information clearly.

Remember, teachers get tired. They have to read the same kind of essay over and over again when they grade. If they struggle to understand what you’re saying, you might not get as good a grade as you would if you stuck to using short sentences and relatively simple language.

Your reviewing process shouldn’t take all that long. If you don’t have to make a lot of changes, you should be able to do your final edit in under half an hour.

Take your time. Whatever you do, don’t rush. You might want your essay to be written quickly, but if it’s an important essay, taking your time will give you a better finished product. Budget your time conservatively. It’s better to find that you’ve still got time left over than to run out of time and end up dashing things off with a looming deadline.

Below are some basic guidelines if you need a rough estimate on how long it will take to write an essay. It’s important to remember that there are a plethora of mitigating factors that can increase or decrease the time it takes to write. The below numbers are using an estimate that it takes about 3 hours 20 minutes to write a 1000 word essay:

How long does it take to write a 100 word essay?
It takes about 20 minutes to write a 100 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 200 word essay?
It takes about 40 minutes to write a 200 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 250 word essay?
It takes about 50 minutes to write a 250 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 300 word essay?
It takes about 1 hour to write a 300 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 400 word essay?
It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to write a 400 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 500 word essay?
It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to write a 500 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 600 word essay?
It takes about 2 hours to write a 600 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 700 word essay?
It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to write a 700 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 800 word essay?
It takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes to write a 800 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 900 word essay?
It takes about 3 hours to write a 900 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 1,000 word essay?
It takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes to write a 1,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 1,250 word essay?
It takes about 4 hours and 10 minutes to write a 1,250 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 1,500 word essay?
It takes about 5 hours to write a 1,500 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 1,750 word essay?
It takes about 5 hours and 50 minutes to write a 1,750 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 2,000 word essay?
It takes about 6 hours and 40 minutes to write a 2,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 2,500 word essay?
It takes about 8 hours and 20 minutes to write a 2,500 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 3,000 word essay?
It takes about 10 hours to write a 3,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 3,500 word essay?
It takes about 11 hours and 40 minutes to write a 3,500 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 4,000 word essay?
It takes about 13 hours and 20 minutes to write a 4,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 4,500 word essay?
It takes about 15 hours to write a 4,500 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 5,000 word essay?
It takes about 16 hours and 40 minutes to write a 5,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 6,000 word essay?
It takes about 20 hours to write a 6,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 7,000 word essay?
It takes about 23 hours and 20 minutes to write a 7,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 7,500 word essay?
It takes about 25 hours to write a 7,500 word essay.

How long does it take to write an 8,000 word essay?
It takes about 26 hours and 40 minutes to write an 8,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 9,000 word essay?
It takes about 30 hours to write a 9,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 10,000 word essay?
It takes about 33 hours and 20 minutes to write a 10,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 12,500 word essay?
It takes about 41 hours and 40 minutes to write a 12,500 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 15,000 word essay?
It takes about 50 hours to write a 15,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 20,000 word essay?
It takes about 66 hours and 40 minutes to write a 20,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 25,000 word essay?
It takes about 83 hours and 20 minutes to write a 25,000 word essay.

How long does it take to write a 50,000 word essay?
It takes about 166 hours and 40 minutes to write a 50,000 word essay.

(Image courtesy of Miguel)

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