21 December 2011

In Praise of the Writing Sprint

Before I get started, I FIRST want to throw out a HUGE happy birthday to Jan! Happy Winter Solstice, sister, and a very magical Birthiversary!!! (and welcome back to the light, eh)

And NOW for the blog... I have a new game I play. I discovered it during the most recent NaNoWriMo. It had always seemed a strange thing to do before, but I've come to love it.

What is it? A Writing Sprint is designating a starting and stopping time and writing with abandon... as fast as you possibly can... Often (usually, even) it is done with a couple friends. I have used Facebook (in fact I created a Facebook Group for it: Writing Sprints R Us), though during NaNo, Lynn Rush told me they ran them on Twitter, too. Somebody calls it and times it (anybody, really).

What does it DO for me? It gives me permission to put everything else off. This is huge. I have a family who can be demanding. I have chores I feel guilty not doing. I can get distracted with the best of them by facebook or my blog (or somebody else's blog)--heck, my religion is digression. But this start and end time says 'this is only for this time. You can get to the other stuff later'. And somehow, magically, I CAN. I can psychologically turn the other stuff off.

HOW do you do it? Well most importantly, you need to turn OFF your notifications. No phone, no email beep, no facebook open, no chat. Then you need to practice THIS phrase: “Not until my writing sprint is over!” Your spouse and children need to get used to this. The first time I said it my son said, “What's a writing sprint?” so I had to define it. “I write as fast as I can for a full hour with no interruptions.” his response? “And you think that's fun?”

Man, oh, MAN do I think it's fun!

Then you need to learn to IGNORE doorbells, phones, drier buzzers. Probably you shouldn't have LEFT anything with a cooking timer going... go get it out of the oven, but FAST. Don't put anything else in until you're done.

Does it WORK? Boy Howdy, does it?! This November, rather than the 51K-56K range of my past I managed 68K. And I managed with WITH Thanksgiving duty (hubby had to work—other years I have that off) and WITH a couple editing SNAFU obstacles. I think I had 6 days over 5K. In the past I might have 2 or 3...

And I've kept going in December—I am committed to finishing my 3rd (and as far as I know final) cozy mystery first draft before the year is out. I've been trying to do sprints about 3 weeknights and then at least 4 over the weekend and I have written 33K in 15 days. (I finished my NaNo on Dec. 5 at 80K)--holy heck YEAH, that means in 50 days I've written 113,000 words. Seriously. Oh wait... less the 2K from before November... so 111,000... STILL! So say YES to the writing sprint! And if you are looking for company, PLEASE join us on FB. (it's open, but it seems people still have to request--don't worry, I will approve you)

If you have trouble fitting writing in, you can do it for shorter spurts too... time twenty minutes. Half an hour. Put the time aside—such a SHORT time, really. Heck, you could lose that much answering a single email. And if you are in a different phase, the SAME thing works for editing—the permission to turn off everything else is pretty universally handy.

I challenge anybody to come up with ANYTHING that works quite this well for fitting words into a schedule.


vic caswell said...

*fist pumps*

Tina said...

I like this idea very much. I'd heard you talk about it on fb, and I didn't think it would work for me, but reading this has convinced me to at least try. Thanks.
Tina @ Life is Good

Hart Johnson said...

YAY! *high fives Vic*


Jan Morrison said...

thanks my deary deary deario!

Sue said...

Hmm, maybe I'll give it a go and see what happens. I've done something similar with housework (which I detest) but only for 20 mins (which is More than adequate)
Happy birthdays to you and Jan!

Hart Johnson said...

*hugs Jan*

Sue! Yay! You've joined us! I saw you there!

Ha! How did I get a birthday, too!? I'll take it!

Sue said...

um, sorry Hart, one of those embarrassing little brain flips. Enjoy your non birthday anyway!

Natasha said...

Almost tempted to give it a try. If I can't spare 20 minutes, there must be something wrong with me.

Hart Johnson said...

Sue-no worries! My half birthday is tomorrow!

Rayna-DO IT!!!