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2000 Word Essay Page Length Earth

One of the most popular posts on the Thesis Whisperer is How to write 1000 words a day and not go bat shit crazy. Last year a Twitter follower brought to my attention a post called How I went from writing 2000 words to 10,000 words a day by the fiction writer Rachel Aaron.

I did a double take.

Can you really write 10,000 words a day? Well, Rachel says she can, with three conditions:

1) Know what you are going to write before you write it
2) Set aside a protected time to write, and
3) Feel enthusiastic about what you are writing

I read the post with interest. Much of what Rachel did conformed with what I suggest in my earlier post, but I couldn’t bring myself to really believe Rachel’s productivity claims. To regularly write 10,000 words: It’s the dream, right? Imagine if you could reliably write 10,000 words a day, how long would it take to finish your thesis… A week? How about a journal paper – a day?

Impossible!

Or so I thought.

I’m now a 10,000 words a day believer because I have been watching students write even more than this in a single day at the Thesis Bootcamps we run at ANU.

The Thesis Bootcamp formula was developed by Liam Connell and Peta Freestone of the University of Melbourne. Thesis Bootcamp (and the veteran’s days which follow) is a total program designed to help late stage PhD students finish their thesis document (In some countries this document is called the ‘dissertation’, but I will use the Australian term ‘thesis’ here). The Thesis Bootcamp concept is simple – put a whole lot of PhD students in a room for a whole weekend and set them the goal of writing 20,000 words each.

Yes – you heard me right.

At every Thesis Bootcamp we have run, at least one student will achieve this goal, and many write many more words than they thought they would. In a previous post Peta Freestone and Liam Connell wrote about the ideas behind Thesis Bootcamp. In this post I want to reflect on Rachel Aaron’s threefold advice and put in the context of thesis writing.

1) Know what you are going to write before you write it

Composing a Thesis requires you to do different types of writing. Some of this writing is ‘generative’ in that it helps you form and articulate ideas by… just writing as much as you can, not as well as you can. It works best when you don’t second-guess yourself too much. The philosophy is ‘make a mess and then clean it up’. Perfectionist writers have a problem doing this, which is why we see so many perfectionists at our Bootcamps.

At Bootcamp we teach our students to focus the generative writing energy to productive effect. An important step in this process is for the student to spend at least a week making a ‘Thesis map’  before they come to Bootcamp. The map is essentially a series of sub-headings which the students use as prompts for composing new text, or re-using existing text.

Students, particularly those in the humanities and arts, tend to agonise over the Thesis document ‘structure’. I think the anxiety stems from the idea that ‘Thesis structure’ is some kind of perfect platonic form they need to discover.

It’s important to realise that structure is made, not found. Thesis structure is strongly influenced by disciplinary precedent and the content of the Thesis itself. A history PhD it might follow a timeline from the past to the present; a science PhD might echo the order of the experiments that have been performed. But multi-disciplinary PhDs, or PhDs in ‘polyglot’ disciplines like education, do not have comfortable traditions. This means you’ll have to make the structure up. Try the following technique:

  • Try to capture an overview of the Thesis by completing the following sentences from the work of Rowena Murray):
    • This Thesis contributes to knowledge by…
    • This Thesis is important because…
    • The key research question is….
    • The sub-questions are….
  • Decide how long your Thesis will be. Most universities have a maximum word count. Aim for your Thesis to be at least 2/3 of this total (it’s likely you will write more than this, but this gives you some wriggle room).
  • Make a document with chapter headings and word counts next to them. Include an introduction of 2000 – 3000 words followed by up to seven chapters of equal length and a conclusion of around 4000 – 5000 words.
  • Under the conclusion heading write a rough list of points you think will go in there (hint – these should be answers to the research questions you have posed). Study these closely – have you got data, theories, evidence and arguments to support these conclusions? These concluding points, singularly or in combination, will form the ‘key learnings’ of the Thesis – the knowledge and ideas you want your readers to absorb.
  • Each chapter should have at least one key learning in it, maybe more. Under each chapter heading note the key learnings in the form of a brief synopsis of up to 300 words. This synopsis is like a mini abstract that explains what the rest of the chapter will be about.
  • Then make a list of the material you will include in the chapter as dot points. Don’t worry about the gaps and stuff you haven’t written yet – just make a note of them. These should be short sentences that will act as subheadings
  • Now ask yourself: If, at the end of the chapter, I want the reader to be convinced of the validity of this key learning, what needs to appear first? What comes next? And so on. Rearrange or write new subheadings as you go until you have arranged all the subheadings of the chapter in a way that tells the research story.

Following these steps will help you to create the Thesis map – but it’s important to remember that this is merely an aid to writing, not a plan set in stone. You can change, add and move stuff around as you write.

In our Thesis Bootcamps we ask students to just pick a spot on this map and start writing as fast as they can, not as well as they can. Does this generate perfect thesis ready text? Not necessarily, but many students say that the writing they produce at Bootcamp is clearer than the writing they did before it, when they are worrying over every word. I think the thesis map is a big part of this clarity because it keeps the focus tight.

This organising technique works best for very late stage thesis students, but it can be a way of creating order at any time in your journey and working out what you need to find out or write more about. I’ve made a downloadable cheat sheet which shows you my own Thesis map, generated by the above method so you can make one of your own.

2) Set aside a protected time to write

I’ve written so much about this, so I wont rehash it all here. If you are interested in some techniques and ideas for creating protective writing time, have a look at the following posts:

3) Feel enthusiastic about what you are writing

I think this is the ‘secret sauce’ in the 10,000 words a day recipe. Rachel Aaron did some deep analysis of her productive writing days and compared these to the occasional not-so-productive days. The days Rachel was able to write 10,000+ words were the days she was writing scenes she had been ‘dying to write’ – she called these the ‘candy bar scenes’. Days where she found it hard to muster 5000 words a day she was bored with what she was writing:

This was a duh moment for me, but it also brought up a troubling new problem. If I had scenes that were boring enough that I didn’t want to write them, then there was no way in hell anyone would want to read them. This was my novel, after all. If I didn’t love it, no one would.

In the fiction world the answer to Rachel’s dilemma was simple – make the boring scenes more interesting! Unfortunately in Thesis World this is not always possible. There will always be parts that are functional and unexciting; I call these the ‘dry toast’ sections – you need to do a lot of unproductive chewing before you can swallow.

There’s a term that describes this process in gamer culture – ‘grinding’. Grinding is being forced to perform the same action over and over again before you can ‘level up’ in the game and get more powers / weapons / armour or whatever. The level up is the pay-off.

One of the most genius ideas Liam and Peta incorporated into Bootcamp was the squeezy lego blocks. We give these out for each 5000 words written in a particular colour order: green, blue, red and gold. The blocks clip together to make a little lego ‘wall’ that the students can display at their writing station. When first presented with the idea of the blocks the students laugh, but all too soon, they are typing furiously with single minded purpose – to get the next block. We have a little ceremony every time someone gets a block, clapping them as they walk up to write their name on the board. It’s cheesy, but it works to turn writing from a source of pain to a celebration. So think about how to reward yourself for every 5000 words written.

Up for the challenge? Have a look at the testimonials on our ANU You Tube channel. I’d love to hear about other ways of doing writing marathons and what you think about this kind of ‘binge writing’.

If you are an ANU student, click this link to find out how to get involved in Thesis Bootcamp on campus.

If you are in the UK, Dr Peta Freestone is available to run Thesis Bootcamp in your university.

Related Posts

Rachel Aaron’s post ‘How I went from writing 2000 words to 10,000 words a day‘

“How to write 1000 words a day and not go bat shit crazy”

Video testimonials on the ANU Youtube channel

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What if you had to write something that was 1000 words, such as an article or a blog post? How many pages is 1000 words? The answer to that question depends on the medium of those 1000 words. Is it in a word document? Is it on a website? Is it for a college application?

People use Microsoft Word or Google Docs for all sorts of academic and business projects. The word counter in Microsoft Word shows how many words per page there are. The number of pages that 1000 words take up in Word depends on the font type, font size, spacing, margins, and paragraph structure. Here are some rudimentary calculations for 1000 words:

  • Two pages when the font type is Arial, the font size is 12pt, and it has single spacing.

  • Two pages when the font type is Calibri, the font size is 10pt, and it has double spacing.

  • Four pages when the font type is Times New Roman, the font size is 12pt, and it has double spacing. These are the common requirements for both high school and college writing.

Example Calculations of Words per Page

Example 1

Let’s say a high school senior is applying for college. For a college application, they must write a 1000-word essay on a topic. The student uses a word counter to keep track of the number of words and pages. The page count depends on the college’s requirements regarding font size and type, margins, and spacing. In some cases, student's are required to write their college application essays by hand. In that instance, the number of words per page, and the number of pages for the total amount of 1000 words depends on the student’s handwriting. On average, however, a 1000-word essay would take 2–4 pages depending on the spacing guidelines.

Example 2

What if you are typing up a 500-word blog post for a website. How many pages is 500 words? Well, if you type up the post in Microsoft Word or Google Docs beforehand, 500 words will roughly take up between 1–2 pages. On the actual website, it could take up a small section or the entire website page (so make sure you know which one you're going to use). The website's layout matters in this case, and determines the final look of the text. Using a program like Google Docs you can easily track your post's word count using their built in word/character count feature.

Example 3

What if you had to write something that was 1500 words? Again, it depends on the factors already discussed: font type and size, spacing, margins, and paragraph structure. A rough page estimate for 1500 words in a document that uses 14pt Verdana font and 1.5 spacing would be about six and a half pages. If you change the font to Times New Roman, and the font size to 12pt, that 1500-word document is about four pages. So you can see the choice of typeface and size has a significant impact on page count.

Example 4

How about 2000 words? Let’s say a high school student had to write a final paper for one of their classes. How many pages is 2000 words? In this case, the teacher just wants the text to be readable. Therefore, the student uses a typeface such as Verdana or Arial, at a 12pt size, and with double spacing. Using the same formula 2000 words takes up about seven pages.

Exmaple 5

Let’s say a college student needs to write a term paper for their history course. The required word count is 3000 words. The teacher makes the other following requirements:

  • Times New Roman font.

  • 12pt font size.

  • Double spacing.

Using our table the approximate page number is twelve pages. However, if the teacher also requires the same paper to have headings and subheadings, the page count will change. For this example, the main headings will have the Heading 1 format, and the subheadings will have Heading 2 format. Plus, the margins will be 0.5 inches on the right and left. When the student uses those additional settings on a 3000-word document typed in Microsoft Word, the total number of pages is 13.

Example 6

Let’s say an aspiring writer is working on a story. Their goal is 10,000 words. For this example, the writer uses Google Docs. If the writer follows the typical manuscript format – 12pt Calibri font with double spacing – they will have a short story that is approximately 34 pages.

If that writer writes a 50,000-word novel, the total manuscript page count will be about 172 pages. However, that does not take into account the story being broken down into chapters or the use of line breaks. Therefore, the page count for one 50,000-word novel will very likely differ from the page count of another novel with the same word count since the book's layout will have to be taken into account.

Page Count is Subjective

For instance, a 20,000-word article in a magazine may only take up few pages, or it may take up ten pages due to advertisements. It depends on how the magazine is formatted. Another example is a children’s book with lots of pictures. The total word count can be around 500 words. However, those 500 words can take up to 20 pages due to large font size and the inclusion of pictures.

In conclusion, the number of pages for a certain amount of words depends on the font and size, margins, spacing, and paragraph structure. The final format of a piece of writing, whether it’s a printed Word document, a published book, a magazine article, or a page on a website, also matters. Page count is either just a required element of an academic or business assignment, or something to keep track of for personal reasons.

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