Writing Writing Sprints
“Back in my day,” wrote the old man who somehow got himself a bloggy, “we used to do a thing called freewriting.”
That’s fascinating, Grandpa! Tell us more!
It is an exercise where you go to town on your page like you’ve got something to prove, like you’re desperately itching to retrieve your soul from the devil. Just go go go with no worries or direction and if you smack headfirst into a wall, bust it through repeatedly and come out the other side smiling cuz eventually you might find something worth your literary while.
I’ve probably written about freewriting before. I think recently, in fact. Let’s put that aside for a moment and discuss this relatively new (to me) exercise called “writing sprints.”
Writing Sprints - What The Heck Are They?
So as far as I can tell (and I’m no guru so please don’t quote me as such), writing sprints are these awesome little snippets of your day when you decide to sit down, turn off your wifi and your other distractions (I’m looking at you my beautiful children), and commit yourself to writing straightforward prose (or poetry I suppose, though that might be more challenging) for 5, 10, 15 minutes or more at a time.
This is different from freewriting in that you are more goal-oriented going into it. Whereas with freewriting, you‘re going nuts to horseshoes, writing sprints have a dedicated plan ahead of them. You have a rough outline of whatever it is that you want to get accomplished, be it a scene or a chapter or a Yelp review (shrug).
You check the clock. You wait for your Begin Minute to tick into place on the clock. Mark that start time down! When it strikes, you go.
During this set amount of time, you are not to go back and reword anything. No editing, no checking previous sentences, just plow forward. In this regard, it is very much like freewriting except that, like I’ve already mentioned, if planned well, you should know where you’re headed at the very least.
If you’re using a stopwatch app or an actual stopwatch, bully for you. When your time is up, let yourself relax and enjoy what you’ve accomplished.
Break, Repeat, Break, Repeat, Improve!
It’s my understanding that after your first sprint, you may rest for five minutes. If you take more time than that, you will be doomed to eternal fire and brimstone. Or else you’ll lose your creative juices. You tell me, which is worse?
OK, five minute break time is over. The clock says go again and you go. If you went for five minutes the first time, do you think you can go 10 now? I do. Hell, I think you can go 15. What else is going on right now? Nothing, buddy! You’re in it! Get down and get funky with it!
Did you cramp up? Did you make it to your established time goal? How much did you self-edit while you were writing? If your answer is “None at all, but,” then you’re either a wizard or a liar! Just kidding. You’re awesome. Good job. Me? I’m both a wizard and a liar. <— At least one of those is probably false.
Pudding Proof — Sprint For Success
As I’m becoming more and more immersed in this wild world of self-publishing, I’m finding this idea of writing sprinting to be very popular among my fellow indie authors. I’m not exactly sure how I stumbled onto Sarra Cannon’s YouTube page. She runs Heart Breathings which, at first glance, does not seem like the kind of thing that would match my writing style. I think of “Heart Breathings” and I see Jaime and Claire in a lifelong embrace that spans multiple centuries and continents. Oh Jaime! You do me in! … Sorry. Is it hot in here or is it just them?
Regardless, Ms. Cannon has a wealth of knowledge and she expresses it in many fun (and FREE!) ways. This week, she is running a Sprint Week for all who are interested. It is being held Monday through Friday and she’s even created a workbook for participants and set up a Facebook page for everyone to cheer each other on! I’m not sure how I will fare, but I’m in. I’m looking forward to the motivation.
Endnote: I can’t find her Writing Sprint challenge so, if you are interested, perhaps go to her website and sign up for her newsletter. I believe that’s how I received the invite for the Writing Sprint challenge. Alternatively, you could probably shoot her an email or, if you are so bold, just begin doing writing sprints on your own! Hey, at least it’s not actual physical exercise. Am I right?!
Double Endnote: I contacted Ms. Cannon for you. Here you go! Enter the Heart Breathing Writing Sprints Challenge here.