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What is word sprinting?
At its simplest, a word sprint involves writing for a set amount of time without interruptions. That means no procrastinating on the internet, no stopping to edit and no brooding over word choice—just writing for as long as the word sprint lasts. When your time’s up, you total up how much you’ve written during the sprint and report your word count to whoever’s running the sprint and/or the other people taking part. Sound simple? It really is!
How long do word sprints last?
Sprints can vary in length, from speedy 10 minute sprints to the marathon length #1k1hr, where participants on Twitter try to reach 1000 words in one hour. How long the sprint lasts is down to the host’s and sprinters’ personal choice.
Who can host word sprints?
Anyone! You can use any of the hashtags listed here to connect with other sprinters on Twitter, join ongoing word sprints or announce your own.
If you’d rather join regular word sprints, a list of notable sprinters can be found here.
How often are word sprints held?
Some sprinting events are held regularly (for example, #WriteClub is hosted every Friday night by @FriNightWrites), whereas others are more spontaneous, with writers on Twitter using hashtags to announce the start and end times of sprints.
What are all these hashtags, anyway?
Hashtags are a way for Twitter users to connect with other people interested in a certain topic. For example, if you search for #wordsprint, you’ll find all the other Twitter users who have included this hashtag in their tweet—which usually means they’re hosting or taking part in a word sprint themselves. If you include a word sprint-related hashtag in your tweets, other people interested in this topic can find you too.
You can find a list of common sprinting- and writing-related hashtags on our Sprinting Resources page.
How do I know when sprints start and how long they go for?
Different people have different ways of announcing sprints. Here are a few examples of common formats used to announce word sprint times:
- :15 for 20
- :15 to :35
All of these mean the same thing: you’ll start writing at 15 minutes after the hour and go for 20 minutes.
As a general rule of thumb, a colon followed by a number shows what time the sprint starts (e.g. :45 means the sprint begins at 45 minutes past the hour). This is a particularly useful way of announcing international sprint times, since it doesn’t rely on converting the hour to your own time zone.
How can I shut out distractions?
There is a great variety of techniques writers employ to fend off distractions while sprinting. We suggest turning off your cell phone (or at least putting it on silent!) and signing out of any distracting websites. Also, consider using a program that has a mode that allow you to compose in full screen (e.g. Scrivener) so that it’s just you and your words.
What about quality over quantity?
A first draft is rarely ever perfect. Word sprints serve the purpose of getting down the words – no matter how bad. Write as much as you can during your word sprints and then edit later!