A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a writing sprint challenge hosted by Sarra Cannon of Heart Breathings. I’d joined many writing sprints on Twitter (@TWSSFU hosts one every month) and read a lot about how writing sprints had affected many authors, but Sarra’s challenge really opened my eyes to just how powerful writing sprints are.
The goal of Sarra’s writing sprint challenge was to find your ideal writing sprint session. Each day of the challenge involved a different length and number of sprints. For example, the first day was three 10-minute sprints with 5-minute breaks, and Day 2 was two 25-minute sprints with a 10-minute break in between.
There are three things that became really clear to me while doing Sarra’s sprint challenge. Thinking about what I was going to write before sprinting helped me write more during my sprint time. Varying the sprint times allowed me to see patterns in my word count, and the length of breaks I took between sprints also influenced my word count.
Here are the most eye-opening things I learned during Sarra’s sprint challenge:
Plan Before Jumping In
I was amazed at how many more words I wrote during the same sprinting time when I took a few minutes to think about the scene I was writing before starting. Doing this small bit of planning before starting really helped get me into the right frame of mind for writing and helped keep me on track so I wasn’t spending a lot of time thinking instead of writing.
Time of Day Matters
When I wrote in the morning or afternoon, my writing sprints were more productive than when I wrote after dinner or after the kids went to bed. This tells me that I have an ideal writing time and I should take advantage of that to be more productive.
Find Your Ideal Sprint Time
How the writing sprint times affected my results really surprised me. I thought a longer sprint would mean I’d get more writing done, but that wasn’t the case. I often wrote more words in 15 or 20 minutes than I did in 25 or 30 minutes.
Breaks Matter Too
The length of my breaks also surprised me. I found that if my break was too long, it was harder for me to get back into sprinting when the break was over and I ended up writing less words than when I took a shorter break.
I also noticed that my first sprint of the day almost always had the lowest word count. It was like I needed a warm-up before I really got going. The more I sprint, the faster I write which makes sense since it’s just like practicing anything else—the more you do it, the better you get.
So, if you’ve never tried writing sprints before, have fun and experiment to see what your optimal sprint and break times are. I’d love to know in the comments below if you have tried sprinting and how it went for you.