Sunday, 22 January 2012

Word Sprints

In case you don't know what a word sprint is, its when two or more people get together usually via twitter, and agree to do a set amount of writing time together. In my experience it can be anything from thirty minutes to an hour.

I first discovered word sprints last year when I took part in NaNoWriMo. Don't underestimate the power of these things. Using twitter to put a shout out for a sprint partner, or many partners, as the case was during November, means you can virtually work at any time of the day or night, its worldwide! Distance is no obstacle, and there are no worries about sharing your work. Its not an expected requirement.

It's a fantastic tool to deal with writers block, or just to get you off the block, and putting words on the screen or page. There is no doubt that regular writing gets you where you want to go, so we all need to persist, and free up our brain so we can get the words down. Once I'm in the flow, I feel energised and it becomes a habit.

Afterwards, its custom, but not compulsory, to let the other sprinters know your word count, again via twitter. One things for sure, you'll have done more writing than if you hadn't of took part in the race.

Another way, is to find a buddy,someone to hook up to write together with, either in person, in which case you'll have to be strict, and not get sidetracked by 'other news' etc which I know from experience is very easily done. Or you could do it via email, on a certain day of the week, that suits both of you, and at a certain hour. Sending your work over to each other afterwards makes it a definite arrangement. You can agree to offer each other feedback or not, depending on what your relationship is, not everyone wants critique.

So whether sprinting is your thing, or not, I guess I'm trying to say, eliminate all your excuses, make a list of what they are, decide what you can drop, or what you can move around to free up a slot in your busy week. Make a date with yourself, and stick to it! This is serious. Clear the decks, sit down and begin. Write. Do not pause, do not look back or stop! Keep writing. You'll be amazed at the result!


  1. I've not come across this term before but have taken part in such things - our writing group call it 'instant writing'. I agree it's a good way to make us focus on writing instead of getting sidetracked by all sorts of other stuff.

  2. I like the term Patsy's writing group use 'Instant Writing.' I believe there's a lot to be gained by just non stop writing over a short time. Stopping to think sometimes results in exactly that, stopping! I heard a good term used by a workshop tutor. Sometimes the thinking gets in the way of the doing. You never see a sprinter stop or look back. A word sprint can get you moving forwards fast. In Olympic year, here's to more gold medal writing.

  3. I certainly never did any sprints until NaNo2011. Now they keep popping up and even today it was the perfect way to draw myself out of a writing rut and get moving.
    I went from blank page to 2,383 words in an hour which made me feel so much better!
    Without that sprint I know I wouldn't even have started this new short story (even with a submission deadline looming) so I'm glad it was there to keep me moving.

    In short... sprints rule!

  4. Good post Maria. I'm learning something new every day. What a good way to get writing and find like-minded people.

  5. We do a similar thing at our writing group. In the last 10 minutes we write about something that someone has set for that period. Because you know you only have 10 minutes, there is no time to think, so you just 'sprint' and it's amazing what develops. Some very interesting bits of writing have come out of these sessions. It's a bit like having a deadline to work to - it makes you get on with it.

  6. Patsy - Good to hear your group does something similar, do you read any of the work out I wonder? I love hearing what folk have written off the cuff.

    Keith - Indeed, word sprinting moves you forward, and we sometimes surprise ourselves with what we produce.

    lleandra - I totally agree with you!

    Diane - Thank you! And yes, an added bonus is that you make friends quickly with other writers.

    Maggie - I love that idea!


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