Why I Sprint: Cristina R. Guarino

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!

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4 thoughts on “Why I Sprint: Cristina R. Guarino

  1. I’m one of those that writes both ways. Sometimes every word is agony. Or, as in the case of a book I just published, I wrote all 66k words in less than a week – while working, and spending time with family. I wrote a 25k novella in a day. And the only reason I can do that is if the entire story is a movie in my head.

    But not all of my books are ready-set-go movies. I’m in OctoWriMo this month, and more than halfway through a 70k word novel. The first 25 were easy – I wrote it over 36 hours. Now I’m hitting a spot where I just stare. And that is where the wonderful sprints help me. I don’t worry about writing badly, I worry about getting words on paper, don’t care about grammar, punctuation, or if the scene is really necessary. Not to mention, I love the easy competitive spirit. Yeah, we all want the biggest word count, but we aren’t sore losers if we get our butts whipped. ALL WORDS ARE GREAT! :) It feels good to have the high word count, but it feels better to cheer other writers for making goals, getting some words down, finishing the edits on a trouble spot …

    And I’m gonna shut up now LOL

    • Wow, you’re a word count FIEND! I can’t possibly imagine writing that much in such short periods of time. That’s fantastic!

  2. I started sprinting in August with #writeclub because I needed to get back to my writing. Now I do it because it helps me with output but even more so, I LOVE the community of writers. I have found more support, positivity, laughs and love with #writeclub than any other group I’ve tried in person!

    • You know, for a moment I thought you wrote “in prison,” and I can’t tell if that was a coincidence or related to the fact that when I first saw your avatar I thought you were wearing a bandit mask.

      ANYWHO…

      Isn’t it great? Community is what drew me to NaNoWriMo (besides the obvious allure of finally getting my lazy butt to write a novel), and it’s what made me stick around through all the Twitter goodness. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today (however much of a writer that is!) without these communities. Writing is too lonely of a passion for me, no matter how much I love it. I can’t get through it without some support. :)

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