Friday, August 10, 2012

Ready. Set. Go! Ways to prepare for Writing Sprints

Photo by Fifth Element- Phannary Penn

A few weeks ago my fabulous CP Daryl D put together a writing sprint and asked if I'd be interested to sprint with her.

Of course I would!

I've been hearing about writing sprints on Twitter and always wanted to try it with my CPs so when she offered, I jumped at the chance.

And I LOVED it!!!
Thank you, Daryl!

For those of you who aren't familiar with writing sprints, they're basically designated times marked out of your busy schedule where all you do is write, write, write. No Facebook. No Twitter. No email. No distractions. 100% sprinting words out.

So now when my CPs and I can't get together for writing sprints, I always pretend. I set my timer and close all windows and pretend they're on the other side of the world pounding those keys in as I am.

I don't know what it is, but it seriously works. The temptation to take a peeky at your email is gone. Who cares what's going on FB or any other social media. Of course, deadlines help too!

I also found setting an online timer is helpful, allowing me to check in every now and then to see how I'm doing.

However, resist the urge to check often. That is the only window I have up. That and my white noise. The only temptation, so to speak. If it becomes distracting, set an actual timer and keep it out of sight. An online digital timer may not be for you.

Things to prepare for writing sprints can include setting up snacks and drink ahead of time (just in case you are tempted to dig through the pantry). Turning cell phones off and of course going offline is a must.

Don't forget to take a potty break before you start. If possible try to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner before you begin. Otherwise if you have to warm up your meal while sprinting, it'll take minutes away from your writing time. *Peeks up from the laptop and cringes* Guilty. Guilty.

And try to do any research beforehand. If you get stuck add a symbol and a ___________. This will remind you later to fill in the blank.

{Okay, snacks like these might be  a little too distracting, but you get the idea}

If you feel less tempted by writing longhand (or more creative), go for it! It might even be less distracting.

Also, exercise gets the mind in the groove. Refresh your mind by doing an actual sprint before a writing sprint. Or maybe some jumping jumps, cardio etc.

Another fabulous writing buddy of mine (Casea Major), opened a 'sprint group' on FB. If you would rather sprint with a group of people, or check in with a group of serious writing buddies, that's another great way of getting some word count in. Support is THEE best motivation.

There are so many timers to choose from such as this ONE and this ONE.

My favorite is EGGTIMER

Don't forget. Do NOT set timer for more than two hours at a time. The body and mind needs a rest after two hours of stimulation. Avoid putting your brain to mush by sprinting for no longer than two hours at a time.

After two hours get up, move around, get yourself a refill, take a potty break, whatever. Once you're done and would like to continue, set timer for two more hours or less (if preferred) and repeat.

Excuse me now, I have a date with my timer. See you in two hours!

How do YOU prepare for writing sprints? Have you been on one? 
How do you like them?


Unknown said...

My best tip for doing sprints is to use Write or Die. It's fabulous for forcing you to focus, especially if you put it on kamikaze mode (if you stop typing for more than a few seconds, it starts eating your words). There's both a free online version and a downloadable version ($10, but far more features available and you don't need the internet on to use it).

Casea Major said...

OMG, Tory. That sounds scary. Lol I do my sprints in 30 min blocks-20 minutes sprinting and 10 minute breaks the goal is 500 words. That's 1000 words an hour.

Great post, Mart.

Anya Millar said...

Great tips, Martha. I like the timer idea but sprinting would be hard for during the day (until school starts at least) thanks to noisy children that think it's Summer Break, lol.

I usually TRY for no more that 50 blocks of writing as more than that and I'm too sore from sitting bent over the keyboard.

Best of luck to you! And happy writing :)

Brenda said...

Thank you Mart and Daryl for introducing me to writing sprints. Now I sprint with you two once a week--for 2hrs--and I sprint for 2 20 min blocks on Casea Major's sprint fb group.

Unknown said...

Love this idea! Great post! I shall give it a try tomorrow morning! *goes offline...the hardest part* lol Thanks for sharing! :)

Melissa Limoges said...

Sprinting is definitely something new to me. After trying it once, I love it. It's completely ideal for that first draft in my opinion. And the short block of time keeps me focus from wandering, which is something it always does. I think it's a great idea.

Sheri Fredricks said...

I really want to try this and am looking forward to doing so. It didn't happen for me today, nor will it happen over the weekend. But come Monday, it's a whole new story! Great post!
Love ya, SS!!

Mart Ramirez said...

You guys are great! Awesome comments!

@Tory, wow, that's some heavy stuff!! It gives me the shivers even thinking about my words being deleted after ten seconds. I'd def have to be locked in a room and seriously not lift my hand off the keys. Wow--I'm speechless with that one lol Great idea whoever came up with it! Do you get a lot done with it?

@Casea-yes, scary is a good word lol

@Anya, yes, when kiddos go back to school, much easier.

@Brenda, love sprinting with you!! Yes, big thanks to our D
for setting it up!

@Melissa Def for first draft. HIGHLY agree.

@Yay Karen for giving in

@Sheri-yes, I can't wait till you do!!X

Kessie said...

Ever since I read this article about how to write 10000 words in a day--here it is if you're interested--

Anyway, her technique about writing a short, detailed outline about the scene I'm writing right now, plus thinking it over until I'm excited about it, has worked wonders for me. I feel like the stuff I'm cranking out is something somebody else might actually want to read! I'm doing the summer Nanowrimo right now, so I'm basically doing a sprint every evening after the kids are in bed.

Mart Ramirez said...

@Kessie. I remember this post! So glad you shared it with all of us. I don't know where I put the link but yes. One of my fave posts. Thank you for sharing.

Toni Kelly said...

Awesome post. I definitely need to try this. Blogs can be distracting but sometimes you get great info off them. Still, if I manage my time better, I know I'd be more productive.

Daryl Devoré said...

Kinda late - but I made it here. The sprinting idea has helped me too - glad we could get this organized.

Anonymous said...

I always think writing sprints sound so interesting, but I can't do them. I'm ADHD and have to just write. If I stop and start, I lose my concentration and have a hard time getting back on task.

You all have fun, I'll be cheering you on.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Martha! I hadn't heard of a writing sprint until I read your blog post. What a neat idea to do it with a group of people, if possible. I think I'll have to consider giving this a try.

Thanks, also, for the links to online timers.