Thursdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Hopefully by now you understand that this is the day when I yammer endlessly about things that get in the way of writing, how I overcome them, tips and tricks I use to keep writing, random inspiring thoughts and mini-reviews of things that knocked my socks off.
It’s also November, which means it’s NaNoWriMo! I’m not participating in the 50K words in a single month, but I’m most certainly feeding off the energy that’s present in my writing community while so many others are collectively writing and talking about what they’re writing.
And then there’s the leading method we like to use for writing to a deadline, and it is the focus of this here blog post: The Sprint.
I’ve talked about word sprints before in passing, but today in honor of NaNoWriMo and the lovely people chasing that ephemeral dragon, I’m gonna go into a little more detail!
The concept is that instead of trying to sit down for a solid hour plus and knock out a bunch of words, where you might get frustrated or lose track or just meander because you have so much time to write until suddenly you have no time and you got nothing done, you partition your time into blocks and write inside those blocks, and generally only in those blocks. We like ten minutes of writing, ten minutes not writing, but you can do five minutes writing, ten break. Fifteen minutes writing, five break. Whatever works for you. Then repeat as necessary until you reach whatever goal you’ve set for yourself that day.
The power of word sprints is that you give yourself a short block of time, and in that time you are laser focused. You are in the game. You are here to play and words are your points. You cut out all distractions for that block of time. You write. You don’t stop to think, to agonize over every word choice. You only have ten minutes. Why are you hesitating? Keep those words flowing!
Then at the end of ten minutes you take a breather. You hit the sidelines, get a drink, chat for a few minutes, decompress. You prepare for the next sprint.
When that ten minute break is up, you fly off that starting line like an Olympian in the 100 meter dash. I realize I’m mixing the hell out of my sports-related metaphors, but it’s fun and I’m going with it.
If you want to know how powerful a word sprint can be, just look at this post. I used a ten minute sprint to write the original draft of this, and then I went back and edited it down for another ten after that. I let the words flow. I get them out there because I only have ten minutes to do it. I can always fix it later.
Repeat with me: I can always fix it later.
That’s the truth right there. The sprint gets you moving when you’re hemming and hawing over every last sentence. And maybe you only need one or two sprints to get yourself into the mindset of writing for the day. I know I’ve done a sprint or two and then tapped out and just kept writing after that because I’ve gotten where I need to be to get the writing done. I have entered the zone, and sometimes that’s all I needed.
Sometimes I do sprints because it’s the fastest way to get myself working. Sometimes I do it just to participate in the community. Sometimes I have to do it to find my groove. Sometimes I don’t have to bother with it at all and the words just flow like the proverbial spice.
It works for a ton of people, and if you find yourself struggling some day just to get started, give it a try!
I got the concept from my good writing friend Valerie Valdes, who runs a pretty cool little blog and is an all-around excellent person. She also does some speculative fiction based online coursework that you can find via her blog, and if you’re interested in writing to speculative fiction you may find a ton of use in her course!
So get your ass out there, sprint for your words, and always remember to write the hell on.