Going on a Sprint

Sometimes you just need more words.

About five nights a week I’m able to set aside about an hour to write on average. And an hour of concentrated writing often nets me between 1000 and 1500 words. That’s not a terrible number of words, really.

But if I’m really trying to write, if I’m trying to produce things that people will pay me for, I need to up that word count dramatically. I’ve been attempting to do that by simply writing harder. Sometimes that works. I can get up to 1800 words in an hour.

But if I’m going to be tackling a novel in November (which is my plan), I’m going to need a lot more.

Well, as I’ve been reading up on the craft of writing, I’ve come across the idea of “writing sprints.” The basic idea is fairly simple: Instead of writing for an hour or longer, you only write for fifteen minutes. Start a timer. When it hits fifteen minutes, finish the sentence you’re on, and stop. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of something really cool; you stop.

And then later in the day, do another sprint.

And then do another later on.

You get the idea.

I thought, why not? Let’s try this.

So last week on a certain day I attempted writing sprints. I did five of them spread over about fourteen hours of the day.

So in an hour and fifteen minutes, I wrote 3800 words.

That’s… that’s crazy. Insane. How did this happen?

I think there’s two things that make it work for me.

First, I’ve learned that I do the bulk of my writing as my “timer” for writing winds down. A lot of writing time is staring at the screen trying to figure out what comes next. But when I realize I need to be doing something soon, the words start coming and they don’t stop coming.

The sprint means that I have a limited amount of time. I need to get writing now. I don’t have time to sit and stare.

The other thing the sprint does is it leaves you at a point you want to write more. Which means when you get to the next sprint, your brain has been churning –in the background at least – on what to write next. So you’re already ready to go the second you start the timer.

I’m going to be using this method in the next week or two to find out if last week was just a freak accident, but I’m hopeful. After all, if I can get out 3800 words in just an hour and fifteen minutes, I can really get writing!

Now, some of you may be thinking: Sure, you can type words. But were they any good?

Yep.

They were not as polished as normal, admittedly, but you can only edit something that already exists. I need to have those words there if I’m going to improve and revise them.

So, yep. Let’s try out these writing sprints.

Have you attempted to increase your wordcount? How did you go about it?

Published by Jon

I'm a pastor in Wisconsin. Constantly writing, whether it be fiction or sermons or anything in between. Husband and father. Over all this, Christian, willing and joyful servant to good master Jesus.

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