We are not gonna lie, the first time we heard of "writing sprints" we imagined some type of relay involving running in place while typing furiously until smoke plumed from the keyboard. In our heads, it wasn't pretty. BUUUUT thank goodness, we were dead wrong. "Writing sprints" are actually one of the best ways to get words down on paper and to hold yourself accountable. Much like punching a clock for work, writing sprints force you to sit down at a specific time and write. It's easy to say, "Yeah, I'll get to it later" when it comes to writing, especially if you treat it like a hobby instead of a job. But with writing sprints, it's a little harder to blow off since you are being held accountable by a few of your peers.
Let me explain, to start writing sprints, you need at least one friend/fellow writer/peer, but more is always better, just in case someone can't make it one day. You set a time and you all virtually meet in a chat room (we always use Google Chat). After you say your hellos, someone sets a timer for a chunk of time (we used to do 20 minutes, but now we usually do 25-30 min stints). The timer counts down and then everyone mutes their screens and writes for the set amount of time. After time is up, everyone posts their word counts (not the actual words, just the number) for everyone to see and someone usually tweets about it. A tweet might look like: Rd 1 #writingsprints w/ @soso, @soso2, & @soso3. 675 wds & counting. Great job y'all. Onto Rd2... #writingrocks #teamwork #community. It doesn't have to be fancy, but try to include everyone's twitter handle and the # of words that way everyone can be held accountable and can retweet it for themselves if they'd like.
Remember, the word count itself isn't a competition and no one is mad if a person only gets down 75 words. The key to this is: this is not about perfection. The words you put down will eventually be edited, but not right now. Now is the time to just get the words down. Write as much as you can, as quickly as you can. It's all about helping to quiet your inner critic and just lay the first draft down on to paper. You know what they say, you can't edit a blank page.
So many people, when they are writing the first draft, get caught up in trying to have it be perfect the first time out. It is never perfect for anyone. Not even the best writers write flawless first drafts. It's all about throwing the sand in a box and building the castle out of it later, right? So, the reason sprints are so helpful is because it not only increases your daily word count, but it makes writing, a commonly insular and solitary practice, a social event (well, somewhat). After your 20-30 minute round is up, the timer calls time and then usually we take a 5 minute break to grab coffee, use the restroom, stretch, whatever, and then we start another round. On and on and on until we decide to be done. Some people drop in to join and can only hangout for one round, others can stay for hours. Sometimes we lose people mid-round if they have to attend to something else or get themselves off to work. It's super casual, but it is the practice of checking in every day for at least 30 minutes. It's similar to the same mentality as working out with a partner. You'll be far less likely to skip a workout or a writing session if you have an appointment/ someone waiting for you. It's less easy to blow off and it's far more exciting when you have a friendly face greeting you on the other end.
Long story short, writing sprints are an easy way to make sure that you make a writing appointment and stick to it daily. Give it a try and leave us a comment to let us know how it goes! Without a doubt, we're sure that your word counts will improve. Also, if you have any trouble getting started, let us know and we'll give you a hand with whatever we can. Now, get sprinting!