How Long It Takes Me to Write a Blog Post

So one thing I had sort of meant to do is write about how my experience has been blogging 5 days a week (as I outlined in my post “Writing More”). I plan on doing a full recap after the four weeks eventually but here’s something interesting: a minute-by-minute break down of how I write my blog posts.

I tracked exactly what I was doing in 5 minute increments for two posts and here are results. I was honestly surprised at how long it took me to write each post – but that’s the power of actually measuring what you do, right?

First breakdown:

Step Up and Deliver: What Gymnastics Taught Me About Performing Under Pressure

This was definitely going to be a substantial post, though I didn’t realize how big it would be at the time. It’s funny how taxing an exercise writing can be. You’re not just hitting keys on a keyboard – it’s like doing pushups with your mind. You get tired and need to recharge. The dashed lines delineate different writing “sessions” – sometimes it was the same day sometimes it was a different days.

10 mins – getting bullet points for post in shower
10 mins – rapidly putting down an intro in wordpress
10 mins – listing bullet points in wordpress
20 mins – watching youtube videos of jordan, paul hamm, li xiao peng, jonathon horton looking for clutch performances,
10 mins cleaning intro, organizing bullet points, embedding video
10 mins distraction watching unrelated videos
20 mins – fleshing out the first half of the bullet points
10 mins – fleshing out half of the first bullet point
10 mins – more distractions
20 mins – more fleshing out

10 mins – re-reading, editing, adding picture
20 mins of editing
10 mins – final touches

Total time: 170 mins (2 hrs 50 mins)

Second breakdown:

How Blogging Can Increase Your Luck Surface Area

This post originated as a response to a question posed on an email list – so it has a different profile, which is why I thought it would be a good one to look at. I dashed off the original email quickly and then thought it would make a good post – but of course it would require a bit of touching up. It turned out that I would spend 7x the amount of time it took to write the original email to finish a post.

15 mins – writing email response to question from the list

10 mins – added two 2 paragraphs

5 mins – reread, kill intro
20 mins – write new intro / 1st half
10 mins – reading posts from Lingbo, who I quote
15 mins – writing more
10 mins – getting a picture, formatting it, getting photo credits
10 mins – adding in links to certain sections, formatting changes for quoted sections
25 mins – edits, clarifications, making it tighter, adding more links, scheduling post

Total time: 120 mins (2 hrs)

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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  1. I was asked a similar question recently and was tempted to respond “30 minutes to an hour.” But then I watched the clock, too, and noticed that even though I could draft a post in that time, I spent that much time over again cleaning up the post, adding links, preparing photos, etc… somewhat surprising, I agree ;)

    Do you prepare your posts in batches, or one at a time? Sometimes when I have time to myself (no internet on a train, for example) I’ll go write a handful of drafts to be cleaned up later…

  2. Hi Jason, Anne here, community manager intern at Livefyre. Your post made me laugh — I have a similar routine when I’m writing blog posts. If I have an idea I’m excited by I can bang it out in maybe 10-20 minutes, but I probably spend double that amount of time reading back through, editing it, and inserting links and other pertinent material. I went into blogging thinking it would be quick and easy (as opposed to say, an academic paper of any length), but I was wrong, especially if procrastination, boredom, or plain old writer’s block hits. Not too surprising, I suppose.

  3. Heh, interesting break-down. Good to see I’m not the only one that falls victim to distractions every now and then.

    As of late, I’m up to just about one blog post per day on the company blog and 2-3 blog posts per week on my personal blog. I haven’t really sat down to do a full break-down of how long it takes me. I definitely flesh some out faster than others. I try and get them scheduled the night before but find that I’ll come into work, edit, re-write (a little) and then publish so that they get sent out via the email RSS updates by 11:00am.

    I write in the moleskine at random times of the day as I always carry it with me. So I’d probably factor that as time spend writing too. Usually post titles and outlines go in there.

  4. @annedreshfield You know what gets me sometimes Anne, I’ll flesh out a good blog post, then I’ll spend a blasted hour or more trying to find the perfect photo to compliment the post (sigh). Then of course you factor other distractions and next thing you know, that post that should have taken me 30 minutes to write is up to 2-3 hours :-/

  5. @RicardoBueno Sigh, yes articles often take longer than you expect and distraction definitely plays a role. But at the end of the day – it’s totally worth it. =)

  6. @annedreshfield One of the great things about blogging (and the challenge) is that you don’t have to write anything. When you post a new article you have to really want to say something. This means you can get much more passionate about your writing but it’s also more stressful because you really care about saying it right.

  7. @RicardoBueno Have you ever tried Write or Die ( Basically you set a wpm speed and start typing — if you lag or fall behind, the screen will darken, and if you take a REALLY long time it’ll start deleting your words! I use it when I have a lot of thoughts I want to get down and just need to get them out there. It might not be the most well-written piece ever by the time I’m down, but with a little editing (or more) I’m usually pleased with the result. That doesn’t help you cut down the time it takes to find pictures, though. :/

  8. @jasonshen That’s an interesting point, Jason, and I think it’s true for a lot of people, even if they might object. Blogging is much less formal, depending on the topic/audience, so it’s much more like “saying.”

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