~ By Leigh Duvan
When you hear the word Sprint your first reaction might be to think of Olympic Runners or Track & Field Events – you know like the 100-meter dash. Sprinting is associated with “going fast” and the actual verb definition is: run at full speed over a short distance. Today we’re going to take the sprint to another level – a writing level.
A few years back when I started writing “for real”, I came across a group of writers who would “sprint” together. The more I learned about writing sprints, the more I fell in love with them.
I found they fit my tight schedule well: 30 minutes here, 45 minutes there, and if I was lucky a full hour tucked away at Starbucks.
What I found even better than sprinting alone was sprinting with others because I have always done better with someone to “run” with giving me some accountability. It was harder to talk myself out of writing when someone was waiting for me to start a sprint or report my word count.
Writing can be lonely. We may find writing buddies, beta readers, critique partners and such over time, but the reality is, it is usually just the individual writer and their trusty computer or notepad. Clever writers will add sprints to their arsenal for word count and connection.
Setting Up A Writing Sprint
A writing sprint is simple to organize. Find a friend or two and commit to writing together at a specific time. For example in the Romance Writers Sprinting Group that I run on Facebook, we have writers from all over the world. Someone will make a post saying “Hey anybody around to do a 30 or 45 minute sprint this morning?” Then a time gets picked to start and off they go.
Sprints usually start on the : 00, :15, :30, :45 and increments go for 30, 45 or 60 minutes.
When the time is complete, participants come back and report word counts. Sometimes we might have 2 people sprinting together, sometimes we’ll have a larger group. It’s all flexible and depends on who is around. At the end everyone who participated has moved their MS forward. And that’s a great feeling!
Note: If you are participating in NaNoWriMo, you can use this tool for personal or group sprints. It’ll even give you prompts! Also be sure to follow @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter where you can participate in sprints happening around the clock.
Benefits of a Being a Regular Sprinter
I find the habit of sprinting to be valuable especially when you can do them with others. Sprinting with others is not a competitive thing. It is more of a social thing. A virtual cheering squad. Let’s face it, any new words written puts you ahead of where you were before you started.I find it gratifying to be part of the process of helping writers moving towards their finished chapter or manuscripts – it’s fun!
Sprinting also helps you become a faster writer. When I started writing I was slow, painstakingly slow. Over time I became faster and now in an hour I can do anywhere from 800 to 1000 words as long as I know where I’m going with the story. Whether you’re at 200 words or 1,000 words an hour know that getting the words on paper as quickly as possible helps build your writing habit. And writing consistently helps you get faster too. Every day I look forward to a 30 or 60 minute sprint. And on the days that I don’t get the chance to do them I don’t feel bad about it. But I do miss them, which is part of building that daily writing habit.
If you’re a part-time writer, like me, this is a great way to connect with other writers and make friends. It’s also a great way to find encouragement for what you’re doing. Even if you only sprint three or four days out of seven you’re still getting words on paper and honing your skills, which is the important piece of the puzzle
Remember: you can do anything for a short burst of time. This helps you make writing a priority.
Maybe you work a job, maybe you have family responsibilities, maybe that particular day is just completely cray cray. And you think, “I can’t write today.”
Instead, you shift your mind and to say to the world, “Gimme 30 minutes” then I’ll make dinner. And you go get some words on the paper. I find that writing sprints help the creative process because one you have a short focused and you have to be ready to sit at the computer no distractions and get out whatever comes in that time period. Sprints keep you IN your book.
If you’re interested, check out my Romance Writer’s Sprinting Group.
May the words come to you swiftly and easily and may all of your writing dreams come true!
Leigh Duvan is a digital marketing strategist by day & a contemporary romance writer by night. She writes sweet and sassy stories and loves a loveable hero. She’s a specialist in marketing & brand building designed to drawn in loyal and sticky fans. Complete with two decades of sales/marketing experience, she teaches new and experienced authors how to build and keep an engaged audience through brand awareness and community building, starting even before their first book release. An avid napper, she spends time running her kids here to there and traveling with her husband as often as possible. You can visit her at http://LeighDuvan.com.