Sprint for Faster Writing

I’ve talked many times on the benefits of daily writing and setting aside dedicated time to getting those words in. It’s no secret that the key to finishing a book is to sit your butt in the chair and write, but for many authors the 80k target goal of a completed genre novel seems like a Herculean task. It’s like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up to the clouds, and wondering how the hell you’ll ever be able to reach the top.

Pressure to perform creates anxiety. It’s the reason authors are famous for their procrastination efforts. And subsequently the reason that most writing gets done last minute.

Nothing motivates like a deadline!

Let’s take a closer look at that. Writers who meander through their story can take years to get their first draft done. On the other hand, writers on a deadline, who for whatever reason, cannot be late turning in their work, manage to pull thousands of words from nowhere when needed. And many of those words come in the 11th hour of the deadline.

Creativity is always there. Tapping into it is the key. It’s the shift in pressure that releases its potential. A writer under a deadline doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike. They are not standing at the base of the mountain looking up dreading the climb. They can only focus on putting one foot in front of the other and getting there as quickly as they can. It’s all about racing to the finish. But it doesn’t have to be done in the 11th hour.

Welcome to Writing Sprints.

When you need that extra boost of adrenaline to push you through writer’s block, you can manufacture it. Writing groups everywhere, online or in person, often employ these quick word writing sessions to motivate authors to get their word count in.

Why does it work?
Let’s break it down.

Time Limits 

We already stated above that the 11th hour is the most creative for all writers. Knowing you must finish by a certain time creates a sense of urgency which can short circuit the block in a writer’s mind. They have no excuses. The clock is ticking. Write what comes to mind.

When there are no limits to time, writers can get lost in their own head, traveling down all the “what if” paths their character can take on the journey of their story. Too many “what if” choices can stall the writing process. Writer’s Block sets in when an author doesn’t know how to get past the problem they have stalled on. Removing the option of dwelling on the “what if” moments means authors must be more decisive and once they choose a path for their character, they have no choice but to follow it to its logical end. This actually frees up a writer’s mental load and increases the ability for them to work through a story problem.

Flexibility to fit Any Schedule 

Word sprints are typically set up for a very limited time. 15-30 minutes per session. An author can choose to do a single session or multiple depending on their availability, keeping the time commitment low enough to do without interfering with a busy schedule. There is no excuse when you’re only committing to a quick 15-minute session. We all have 15 minutes to spare in a 24 hour day. Many waste more time than that, surfing the web.

A Little Competition Goes a Long Way

During a writing sprint, the goal is to get as many story words in as possible in that 15-30 minute limit. Writers set word count goals and compare their numbers against others who are writing during the same sprinting session. That element of comparison encourages writers to either beat their last “best word count” or beat another author’s session word count. Not only are writers working through their story faster with limited time they are given, they’re also constantly pushing themselves to do it faster than someone else.

Achievement Benefits

That little dopamine release of racing to the finish line, beating the competition, and knowing they are that much closer to completing their story draft are immediately felt by the author. That sense of accomplishment reinforces the drive to keep going. This can help stave off writer’s block and maintain the interest and excitement a writer feels, even through the slower moments in their book. 

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About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.