I come to you today with a slightly shorter post. But don’t worry, it’s a super fun topic.
Ever done a word sprint?
If you haven’t, then you’re in for a writing treat! If you have, then you’re probably grinning knowingly. Those who have partaken of a word sprint are never quite the same. Neither is their writing…especially those NaNoWriMo first drafts.
So what is a writing sprint?
For the most part, they follow this formula: a set time (ex. 15 minutes) + key words (pickle, picnic, parsnip) = a writing sprint!
Sprints in the writing world are similar to sprints in the track and field world. Basically, you try to write as many words (or run a set distance as fast as you can) in a set amount of time. Bonus points for getting more words than you did last time (how fun is it to beat your own record, right?).
Except writing sprints are more fun. And leave you less susceptible to injury.
Sprints can help your writing in a majority of ways and can be your saving grace during a writing challenge like Camp NaNoWriMo or Write Chain. They force you to get down and dirty fast. You try writing as many words as you can in 15 minutes and incorporating the words “daisy”, “glow”, and “candy” in a story about Elves in Iceland and you’ll find all your creative barriers just crumble down and you’re left with one of the top 15 minute writing experiences of your writing life.
Here are three reasons you should utilize writing sprints, whether or not you’re taking part of a writing challenge:
They force you to get creative. Fast.
There’s nothing quite like trying to incorporate a series of words into a story where they probably have no place. Not only does it force you to see your characters, settings, and dialogue in a different way, but it helps you expand your own knowledge of the basics of your WIP. You can reference what you learn when you try to make your dragon talk about daisies or your monster-under-the-bed enjoy candy canes later on in your creative process and it helps you to create full, well-rounded characters and scenes.
Even if your candy loving monster-under-the-bed never sees the light of day.
They help you get those words out. Fast.
When you’re given the goal to write as many words as you can in a set time frame, not only do your fingers get a workout, but your brain does too. When I worked on my last NaNoWriMo project, I would wake up at 6am every morning to write my allotted 1700 words per day. And boy did my brain have a few tree stumps to lumber over during those early morning writing sessions. But a quick look at a writing sprint Twitter accounts and away I went, writing as much as I could with a few words in mind.
Sure, it’s not the best stuff I’ve ever written. But some of the best scenes I’ve constructed or the best characters I’ve met have come from just letting my brain kinda freak out at the time constraint and seeing what popped out.
It actually gets you writing. Fast.
So you have 15 minutes before you need to pick the kids from school? You have ten minutes before a big presentation and want to distract yourself and get your daily writing in at the same time? You wake up with twenty minutes to write instead of your normal hour?
Don’t panic. Use a writing sprint!
Because you can still get your write chain goal or your NaNo goal or your personal goal accomplished, even if what you write is pretty hairy. It still counts. As an exercise, as an inspiration, as a learning experience. It still counts.
I’ll take it.
Have you ever found something you’ve written in a writing sprints to be surprisingly helpful or constructive to your WIP? Let me know in the comments!