If you read Megan Whitmer’s guest post last week, you know that not all writers are fast writers—myself included. It’s always baffled me that people can churn out multiple novels, short story after short story, or whole anthologies of poems in the time it takes me to write a blog post (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. Still, how do you people do it?!). I’m slow. I’ve been working on the same novel for years now. NaNoWriMo is a struggle, and has only proven a victory for me once.
That’s why I started sprinting. I’ve found that, when I do it right, sprinting helps me really up my output. And I think that’s for several reasons—I’m really focusing, I’m under the pressure of a time limit, I want to impress my fellow sprinters and secretly want to be the one with the highest word count—but one thing is for certain, and that’s that sprinting is a great way to get some really productive writing done in a short period of time. And with jobs, families, social lives, and all the other things we squeeze into our days, high word output-low time input is a pretty sweet formula for most writers. Heck, I’m writing this blog post in a #WriteClub sprint right now!
The first time I participated in a word sprint was a moment of real pride and discovery. Maybe that’s why I was so excited when I saw it becoming a popular phenomenon on Twitter. I was at my local Panera, participating in my first NaNoWriMo write-in, somewhat awkward and nervous around all these writers I didn’t know. I was in my second year of NaNo, but I still felt like a newbie and had no idea what they meant when they said we were going to start a sprint. I felt like a kid in school asking an obvious question when I queried, “Wait, what? What’s a word sprint?”
Thankfully, nobody sniggered, but if they did they would have been put to shame soon after: I won the sprint, which was really more of a word scrimmage since it was competitive, with something like 450 words in 10 minutes. I beat the runner up by a good 100 words or so. Now I can usually put out a good 1,300 words during a half hour sprint if I’m really focused.
But on top of the obvious productivity—and you will hear this again and again from myself as well as from Taylor and Skye—I participate in word sprints for the community. I used to be extremely selective with my Twitter, only following those I knew or had genuine day-to-day interest in, because I was afraid of cluttering up my feed and missing important updates. But one day, I decided to pop in and give #WriteClub a try, and soon found myself in a follow frenzy with a bunch of awesome writers and word sprinters across Twitter (and the world!). What resulted from that was a pretty substantial Twitter list of writers that I add to by the day: writers I have intriguing conversations with, share links with, encourage, receive encouragement from, promote and am promoted by… you get the hint. I’ve never felt so supported and encouraged in my writing endeavors as I do today. It’s a pretty awesome community, and of course, Sprint Shack would never have come about without it!
So that, in short, is why I sprint. What about you? Do you jump in for the community? For the pressure to write fast? What do you get most out of it? Let us know in the comments!