What is a writing sprint? It’s a fantastic concept and practice I first heard about at the writing retreat I recently attended. Take 30 minutes and write. No distractions (argh I hear you say!) yes, that’s right – write with no distractions for 30 minutes solid.
I grab my caffeine burst of choice and a few chocolate squares and sit and write without guilt for thirty minutes. (If chocolate arouses guilt then delete that bit).
It’s so do-able!
Why is that so? (…asks more people than Professor Julius Sumner Miller).
I always have thoughts running around in my head waiting to hit the page. It gets them down and leaves room for the next wave.
Maybe you struggle, like I do, to timetable huge chunks of writing time. Whether an hour, or half a day or whatever you’re aspiring to it’s not happening. After listening to podcasts or reading blogs that advise the best way to write is to set aside big chunks I still find such practice elusive. Maybe you get distracted like I do with social media, or phone calls or whatever else we seem to find to avoid the actual writing. Or perhaps big chunks of time are simply not available to you.
I have the freedom to spend two days writing, but I like social media! Real life demands attention too! Hence, I find writing sprints a great solution. I sprint, then I take a break. I read my social media post for a couple of minutes, then get back on track. With longer time periods timetabled as well, I’ve the best of both worlds. When I sit down to the bigger chunks of time all those extra words are right there – already written.
Writing sprints can be seen as gap filler. It’s something one can squeeze in to the nooks and crannies of life. Like between having finally put the breakfast dishes away and before getting onto the next task. The KEY is – a sprint is a do-able time frame.
It’s a window – an opportunity.
HOW I write in sprints
- I always have my computer on, usually hibernating. It’s a 2 second kick-start and I’m writing.
- I always grab a cuppa and sometimes a snack (I’m a grazer) and it’s the perfect opportunity to do more than one thing at a time – write and fuel up!
- It’s a 30 minute window to write that blog or a scene for my novel. Sometimes I write a draft, other times I edit and rewrite. (Aha! you say, editing isn’t writing. Your choice!)
Sprints can happen ANYWHERE.
They can be written using pen and paper, laptop, ipad or tablet at the airport, fetching the kids, before appointments – anywhere you are. Sprints aren’t tied to my desk.
- They can be in the doctor’s waiting room. (Who hasn’t waited 30 minutes?!) And if you don’t get your full 30 minutes, you have 10 more than you’d planned.
- Sprints can be while you wait for the kids – I know at least one writer who prefers to write than to talk with others while waiting! Sometimes our characters are much more fun to converse with!
WRITING SPRINTS can be done ANY TIME
- 2-3 days a week I write for half an hour before breakfast and it’s done first thing in the morning!
- Some days I have a ten minute break and write for another 30 minutes and repeat this until my bigger allotment of time is fulfilled.
- Can’t sleep? I find this a perfect opportunity for several half our sprints, always with a nightcap and usually with a bowl of popcorn!
- Before going out to pick up the kids or to the shops or setting out to mind the grand kids I grab 30 minutes and write, then it’s down tools and walk out. It’s done!
- Before, during and after housework – before making the beds, after hanging out the washing, during baking (while the dinner’s cooking), after vacuuming? I sprint!
- Your imagination is the limit!
To sprint or not to sprint
I manage my day with a much clearer conscience when I write in 30 minute sprints. There’s a couple of reasons for that.
(i) I’m not spending ‘sooo’ much time writing that I feel like I should be doing something (anything!) else. It alleviates that gnawing guilt that some writers get.
(ii) It lessens the pressure when I do have longer writing sessions.
Writing Sprints give me the best of both worlds: the two worlds being the real one I live in with all its demands and the imaginary world I write in. 30 minutes gets an idea down; is an opportunity for a 1000 words or more; is relatively guilt free; can be slotted in at the oddest of times; is long enough to enjoy a cuppa at the same time or to reward myself with one afterwards; fits into any day and best of all – writes that novel.