2016 Announcements ~ A Hiatus

ss announcements 2016Happy 2016, everyone! We here at the Sprint Shack would like to wish you a wonderful new year filled with happiness, health, and lots of good writing.

Over the past years, we’ve been blown away by the amazing community that has sprung up around The Sprint Shack and word sprinting. We’ve loved sharing our writing advice and hearing yours. So many of you have accomplished amazing things with your writing and we’re sure that 2016 holds more of the same!

Unfortunately, we have an announcement to make – one that is somewhat difficult for us: as of today, the Sprint Shack will be going on an indefinite hiatus.

This decision was not one that was easy to make for us. But after much discussion and reflection, we’ve decided that putting the Sprint Shack on hiatus is the right thing to do as we all venture further into our own writing and personal projects.

We are not sure if, or when, the Sprint Shack might return, but we have decided to leave that open for the time being. As we pursue other projects, we’ll most certainly miss the Sprint Shack and this incredible community. So we’re leaving this open-ended for now. If, in the future, we feel we have the time to commit to the site again, we’ll pick everything back up.

But for now, we’re putting things on pause. And though this was a hard decision, we’re confident that it’s the right one.

We’re positive that 2016 is going to be a wonderful year for the writing community. We’re so glad to have been part of it for so long and thank you all for your participation, engagement, and enthusiasm you’ve brought to this site.

We’d love to keep in touch with you! You can find us at our respective websites/social media outlets:

Faye Kirwin
Writerology
writerology@gmail.com
twitter.com/writerology
facebook.com/writerology

Cristina Guarino
crgwrites.wordpress.com
cguarino.qg@gmail.com
twitter.com/crguarino

Taylor Eaton
Little Write Lies
littlewritelies@gmail.com
twitter.com/tayloreaton
facebook.com/littlewritelies

Thank you all for your support! Happy writing in 2016 and beyond!

Best,

The Sprint Shack Team
(Faye, Cristina, and Taylor)

Advertisements

6 Secrets To Winning NaNoWriMo Early

For most people, dedicating a whole month to writing 50,000 words can sound a bit shocking, and that number alone can scare a lot of newcomers out of even trying NaNoWriMo. But for the insane percentage of people who do participate in it every year, we know that 50,000 words is not that daunting once you break it down into daily goals of 1667. I know that I personally have a few people on my buddy list who stretch for 200,000 words in the month of November, which is way too intense for me, but all the power to them. It’s all just a matter of setting your daily goals a little higher than the suggested word count.

But sometimes the word count isn’t the scary part. Sometimes, it’s the time that people have to set aside to work on NaNoWriMo on a daily basis. It’s not always possible for people to work on their project for 30 days straight, and this is where finishing your 50k early comes to be most handy.

Today we are going to be talking about how I beat the clock and win NaNoWriMo early every year. Here are some of my secrets to getting ahead and staying above the suggested daily goals:

  1. I personally write an average of 2200-3000 words a day on days that I am working, and 5000 words on days that I am not working. I tend to split up my writing sessions into 3 separate times (early morning before work, before dinner, and before bed). This helps me split up the times and helps me gather my thoughts before binge writing.
  2. I try to do at least one write-a-thon a week. Sometimes I don’t even set big goals for them, but I don’t separate the sessions. If you want to learn more about my tips for write-a-thons, check out my post about them!
  3. Sprints are my absolute best friend during writing sessions. I am generally a focused writer and don’t have a procrastination issue, but I do get easily distracted by the Internet, by my kitten and by all kinds of chores and things I could be doing instead of writing. So I set up a schedule for my sprints. I will write down what sprint times I want to do, and then I will also schedule my break times and what tasks I want to do during the break times. Whether those tasks are switching my laundry over, or sweeping the apartment, or anything that helps me feel more productive, they really help me justify sitting down to write for longer periods of time.
  4. I scout out fast writers in the forums and add them as buddies on the NaNoWriMo website. I often find myself racing a lot of them or trying to keep up with them. I am very competitive by nature, so it’s really easy for me to get motivated when I see people 4000 words ahead of me. I keep a tab of my writing buddies page open at all times.
  5. If you don’t think setting a word count goal for yourself will motivate you, try using the daily-suggested word counts on the NaNo Stats page. Usually, if I can’t get motivated to write a bunch of words, I tell myself that I am going to write ahead two days and set my goal for the one on the website accordingly. For example, if it’s Day 5, I will tell myself to write ahead to get to Day 7 on that day instead. Even if you only write ahead one day, you are still a step ahead.
  6. When you get ahead, don’t stop writing. Even when I am 10,000 words ahead of the suggested goal I make sure I am writing at least the recommended number of words per day, because as soon as you stop writing you will start losing momentum and you will start losing progress. One day will turn into 2 days and that could and has easily turned into a week of no writing. The goal is to win early to give yourself free time at the end of the month. Obviously if you have plans on a day that you would normally be writing, don’t hesitate to take a day off if you have to, but do make sure that your reason is never lack of motivation.

I really hope that all these tips have given you some ideas on amping up your writing sessions and have given you some insight into the processes of those people who have already won. The biggest thing to remember is that while NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a challenge, it’s also supposed to be a fun experience full of writing habit-building as well as a way to meet other writers locally and around the world. Don’t rush through NaNo just to “get it over with.” With all that extra time, you could set a higher goal, you could start editing and take up some of the sponsors on their winner offers, or you could just spend the rest of the month cheering on your fellow Wrimos!

If you have any tips or tricks for getting ahead and winning NaNoWriMo early, please feel free to leave those in the comments below. I would love to hear them and maybe try a few out!


Mazie Bishop is a fiery 23 yeaMazie-Bishopr-old writer and journalism graduate from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.

The Power of Write-A-Thons

For NaNoWriMo participants, the word “write-a-thon” tends to mean a few different things. It can either mean that you plan to plot out a bunch of chapters, set a daily goal and write your heart out until you hit that goal, or join an insane write-in event where you are surrounded by people who all plan to write a certain amount of words in a set period of time and will stop at nothing to get there. These options can all come with varying stress levels, but the common denominator is that you are setting a goal and not stopping until you write your way there.

Write-a-thons can be an amazing tool for people who find themselves procrastinating or falling behind in word count or who are just more goal driven. I personally do write-a-thons on a weekly basis during NaNo, and this year I plan on doing at least two 10,000 word days.

There are a few important things to plan before you sit yourself down for a day of intense writing, so here are my fool-proof tips to surviving a write-a-thon:

  1. Schedule your sprints and breaks. Do the math ahead of time and calculate your average word count within a set time. Then figure out how many sprints of that length you will need to do to get to your goal.
  2. With that information, you are going to want to set aside some time just for your write-a-thon and make sure that you won’t have any long-term interruptions. It is really easy to lose momentum when you are writing for a long period of time.
  3. If you need to be held accountable for your word count, pick a writing buddy or tweet your goal. I find that as soon as I put my goal on my social media or tell someone about it, it helps me hold myself accountable and push myself there.
  4. Race a friend! This will be a great motivation if you are a competitive person. (Co-founder note: Check out our past posts on NaNoWagers for inspiration!)
  5. Take 5 to 10 minute breaks in between each sprint. Make sure you are staying hydrated and snacking frequently. Stand up, walk around, and get the blood flowing!
  6. Reward yourself at the end or per sprint. If you are sitting down to write 5000 or 10,000 words you are more than deserving of a reward or two! I find guilt-free video game time or Netflix time to be a great reward so far this year.

I really hope that these tips help you a bit when getting ready for a write-a-thon and I hope that you consider trying it out. If you are used to writing the suggested daily goal of 1667 words, I would really recommend you try a 3k day or a 5k day—they are so rewarding and really can boost your NaNoWriMo spirit!

If you have any other tips for having a successful write-a-thon, please leave your tips in the comment below, and feel free to add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website (username is DaisyforMazie)!


Mazie-Bishop

Mazie Bishop is a fiery 23 year-old writer and journalism graduate from
Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.

4 Essential Nighttime Habits for Morning Writers

UntitledIn case you haven’t heard, we recently ended our weekly #TNightSprints program in favor of an earlier sprinting schedule: #TuesAMSprints. This was largely due to my inability to partake much in the actual sprinting during #TNightSprints; I would host the tweets on our account, but more often than not, nighttime was quickly becoming a less-than-ideal—if not impossible—time for me to be writing. As a result, I’ve decided to try my hand at morning writing since it seems to work so well for others, and thus #TuesAMSprints was born.

But one thing I’m quickly learning is that, while mornings are great opportunity for us rare non-night owls to tackle our writing with fresh, re-energized creativity, it also presents the problem of stricter time limits. For most of us, nighttime writing sessions may stretch out longer if we wish, since “bedtime” can (though shouldn’t!) be flexible. But in the mornings, if you have a job or any other kind of strict commitments, writing for “just 5 more minutes!” or pushing to finish a scene or chapter can result in tardiness and subsequent repercussions from the outside world—not to mention stress, which is poison to creativity.

If you’re like me, though, you work well under pressure, and an hour in the morning is typically more productive than two directionless hours at the end of a tiring work day. So how can you ensure you’re as productive as possible during your morning writing sessions and still get out the door on time?

I’m still learning, myself, and this past week was a pretty rough trial period. But here are some habits that seem to be necessary for me to get anything done at all between waking and leaving for work:

Habit 1: Prepare Your Writing Space

Faye has some excellent advice on this in her Writember workshop, not to mention she’s an organizational fiend—so if you want more tips on optimizing your time through organization, I highly recommend buying her e-book or taking her course. But at its very basic core, preparation for morning writing starts with setting up your writing space; just like setting out your sneakers and workout clothes the night before makes getting up to exercise that much easier, so does setting up your writing materials in advance.

Make sure your workspace is clear and only contains the items you’ll need to write. If you need coffee or tea to get started, set out a mug and set the pot up so all you have to do is get it started when you shuffle out of bed. Sometimes the hardest part of working in the morning is simply showing up to your work station, and by having everything set up ahead of time, you’ll be giving yourself one less obstacle between you and your writing (and maybe even a few more winks of sleep)!

Do you write at a café or from another public space? Check out our Coffee House Checklist and ensure you have all your items ready to go in the A.M.!

Habit 2: Set A Goal

The biggest mistake I personally make when setting aside specific writing time is not knowing what I’ll be working on. Sure, there are countless projects at my fingertips—that unfinished WIP, the first draft that needs revising, a short story begging to be written. But with any given project comes a pile of notes, plans, and ideas, and not knowing what I’m working on only results in wasting precious writing time gathering my thoughts.

Whether you’re a pantser or a planner, this can happen to you. Regardless of if you’re embarking on a new project, revising an old one, or simply planning a free-writing session, having a goal—or even just a starting point—allows you to jump straight in from the moment you sit down.

Of course, great writing can come out of unplanned sessions, too. My first-ever published short story, “Petals to the Sea,” was born of an unexpected lull in my work day and some spur-of-the-moment writing. But when planning a writing session in the groggy hours of the morning, it’s typically best to have direction.

Habit 3: Prep Your Project

Once you have a neat writing space and an idea of what you’ll be working on, take Habit 1 a bit further and prep your project. This can be as simple as opening a new writing document for a free-writing session or flipping to a blank page in your notebook and setting out your pens—or, if you’re more in-depth with your planning, as involved as mapping out the details of your next scene in a spreadsheet. However you prep for writing sessions, this is the time to put those rituals to use.

If you don’t have any preparation rituals, try this one: every night, while preparing your writing space and your goal for the next morning, read over what you wrote in your last writing session (if you’re working on an ongoing project) or jot down a few potential ideas for your next session (if you’re working on something new). Heck, even just adding a sticky note to your computer monitor or notebook with a motivating quote is better than doing nothing; rituals help set the stage for your work, and by performing the same one each night, you’ll wake up in the right mindset to tackle your next writing session.

Habit 4: Get Enough Sleep

This one doesn’t even need explanation. Just do it. You know you—and your writing—will be better off if you do!


Do you have any unique nighttime habits that set the stage for morning writing sessions? Let us know—and hopefully we’ll see you every Tuesday morning for #TuesAMSprints!

Goodbye #TNightSprints; Hello #TuesAMSprints!

Hey there, word sprinters!

It’s with half regret, half pleasure that we’re here to inform you that we will no longer be hosting #TNightSprints on our Twitter account and will be replacing it with another weekly sprinting event. It’s been almost a year since we started running #TNightSprints, and while we are no longer able to host it, we thank you for joining us in our many productive Tuesday and Thursday night sessions!

Cristina’s schedule has changed, leaving her with more writing time in the morning than at night. So without further ado, we’re introducing #TNightSprints’s replacement: #TuesAMSprints!

picjumbo.com_IMG_1729
Cristina will be hosting sprints from @TheSprintShack every Tuesday morning from 6:30 am EST to 7:30 am EST to give you fellow morning writers an extra boost (especially helpful if your motivation is usually lacking on Mondays)! For those of you who are voraciously productive in the mornings, these sprints directly follow those hosted by the @5amWritersClub and finish with only a half hour to go before @Novel_Adventure‘s morning sprints… this way, you can knock out ALL THE WORDS between 5 am and 10 am EST! (That’s 5 hours of writing. If you have that much time on a weekday to write, we salute and envy you).

We hope to see you out there for some early writing! If you can’t make #TuesAMSprints, remember to check out our Sprinting Schedules page to find sprints that work for your routine.

Happy sprinting!

Romance Author Tracey Lyons Hosts “Sprinting: It’s Not Just For Runners!” Workshop!

We at The Sprint Shack, obviously, love all things word sprinting. So when we see an avid word sprinter doing what they can to get the word out to other writers and broaden the community, we get pretty excited—especially when that sprinter is kind enough to mention us as a resource!

Yesterday, romance author Tracey Lyons attended the Romance Writers of America’s New England Chapter “Let Your Imagination Take Flight” conference, where she hosted a workshop on word sprinting entitled “Sprinting: It’s Not Just For Runners!” Tracey reached out to us ahead of time to ask if she could mention The Sprint Shack, which we were of course thrilled by and supportive of.

Tracey discovered word sprinting after signing with a new agent and experiencing anxiety over a tough deadline. “I needed to get her the completed manuscript of a proposal I’d pitched to her. After days of chasing my tail around, a friend saw my angst-filled post on Facebook and suggested I try the sprinting method—and the rest, as they say, is history! I ended up completing that novel in a record six weeks!”

In the workshop, Tracey outlined the pros and cons of sprinting, offered tips on how to get the most out of a word sprint session (whether you’re sprinting alone or with a group), and made suggestions for turning off your “pesky inner critic” and giving yourself permission to write freely. She also provided author testimonials and a handout including websites and twitter handles to help get participants started in the sprinting community (that’s where we came in!). She ended the session with a word sprint and a follow-up discussion of the process and the attendees’ experiences.

“My hope is that the writers who attend these types of workshops will use the sprinting method of writing as another tool to help them achieve success,” Tracey said prior to the workshop. “Even if you’re only doing a few fifteen minute sessions a day, the word count adds up, giving you the confidence to keep moving forward.”

We hope everyone who attended the workshop had a great time and took something away from it. If you were there and found us through Tracey’s workshop, feel free to contribute to the conversation by letting us know your experience in the comments below!


An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author, Tracey’s books Tracey Lyons-1345-LR-Colorhave been translated into several languages. She has appeared on the award winning Cox Cable Television show, Page One and at the famous Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC. She holds membership in Romance Writers of America and Novelists Inc.

Tracey writes historical and contemporary romances. You can learn more about Tracey and her books by visiting her website at www.traceylyons.com and follow her on twitter at @traceyjlyons.

The Aftermath: What I Learned From My First #10KWritathon

10kOkay, first confession: I wrote the first draft of this post DURING, not after, yesterday’s #10KWritathon. I needed a word boost and a break from my current WIP, which I’d been working on for approximately 6 hours. So I figured it was time for a change of pace, subject, and genre.

This was my first #10KWritathon, so I thought I’d write up a post for you guys on how it went and what I learned. And my decision to switch gears brings me to my first two lessons: be prepared and switch it up.

Lesson #1: Be prepared. Probably the hardest part about this Writathon for me was that, not only was it my first time attempting to write 10k in one day that I can recall, I wasn’t as prepared as I’d have liked to have been. My original plan was simple: spend the few weeks between the announcement of the Writathon and the actual day of it tearing apart my WIP and reorganizing it into a cohesive outline, then work on rewriting problematic areas during the Writathon itself. But what I didn’t account for was a little thing called life, and that actually-not-so-little thing wedged itself between me and my plans just about every day possible until I had very little time left. As a result, I found this challenge to be a struggle—perhaps more so than I normally would have with a concrete outline and budding ideas—and so, I had to resort to lesson 2.

Lesson #2: Switch it up. Ideally, this step should take root in your planning and preparing stage. Come to the Writathon with a list of things you’d like to work on, which can include anything from a short story to an article to a chapter, or even an outlining or brainstorming session for a new work. Of course, some will want to knock out 10k on one manuscript alone, and that’s great! But for many, writing for hours at a time on one manuscript can often bring us to that proverbial brick wall we call writer’s block when we’re suffering from sheer exhaustion, and having something different to work on—bonus points if it’s a completely different format or genre— is a great way to wake your brain up and refresh your creativity.

Lesson #3: Have a timer ready. This goes for whether you’re participating in the Writathon or hosting it, yourself! I used my phone as a timer to remind myself when sprints began and ended, that way I didn’t accidentally let my break spill into writing time or get so caught up in a lucky wave of words that I missed the sprint’s end. Of course, if you’re going to use your phone, you’ll have to be diligent about not checking it during your sprints; the whole point to having an alarm is to prevent you from looking up to check the clock/Twitter, so make sure to put your phone on silent or Do Not Disturb mode so you aren’t tempted to check it!

Lesson #4: Writing all day is hard. Well, duh, right? But I include this here because, during the busy hubbub of our daily lives, it’s easy to forget that, yes, writing is hard—even (and, sometimes, especially) when you have all day to do it. It’s so darn easy to stretch that break out a little longer, or call for an extra break before you really need one, or busy yourself with menial tasks to avoid the actual work. So, while most writers will tell you with confidence that writing 10,000 words in a day is hard, participating in a #10kWritathon might be the exact reality check we need to understand just how hard it is to do this daily for a living. And maybe, possibly, that’ll give us some more appreciation for whatever our daily life is like, and encourage us to enjoy and make use of the small snatches of time we have to write amongst all our other responsibilities.

Lesson #5: Word padding isn’t helpful. Some may argue with me on this, and this is a lesson born of both our Writathon AND NaNoWriMo, but it’s one I’m going to stick to. While writing the original, unfinished, messy draft of this WIP during NaNoWriMo, I let the words absolutely fly. Adverbs ran amuck; I stretched conjunctions into their full length to create stiff but wordy dialog; and I described everything I could, often derailing my work from the plot and the issues at hand. It helped me reach 50,000 words, and I did get some great lines and ideas out of it, but I took it too far. The result? A troublesome #10kWritathon in which I struggled to reorganize and rewrite the beginning of this work, and the manuscript is such a nightmare to get through that reaching 10,000 words, even including outlining and brainstorming, felt like slogging through thigh-deep mud to a far-off finish line.

In fact, I didn’t reach 10,000 words. I burnt out at just over the halfway point.

Ultimately, though, this challenge has brought me to a little epiphany I’ll call our bonus lesson: Any word count, whether 100 or 10,000, is a victory. This is something we commonly say to motivate anyone who is disappointed in their word count during a sprint, and it’s true—but until yesterday, I didn’t understand just how true. Watching the #10KWritathon hasthag scroll throughout the day on my Tweetdeck was a great reminder of how productive this challenge is for so many people; some reach their goals, some don’t, others don’t aim for that number at all. But it’s helpful to know that, even if your word count didn’t get quite where you wanted it to, it may just have inspired someone else to keep writing—which is one of the wonderful and beautiful things about our little writing community on Twitter.

And now… our Hall of Famer! While I didn’t get to 10,000 words yesterday, one determined writer did. A HUGE congrats to Christina (@chuffwrites) for reaching 10k in our first in-house #10kWritathon!

And, of course, here are some honorable mentions with their stellar word counts:

Cari Wiese (@cariwiese) with 8,003 words

Tami Veldura (@tamiveldura) with 7,954 words

Holly Starkey (@holly_starkey) with 6,000 words

L.A. Lanier (@TheSquibbler) with 4,986 words

Congrats everyone! And for those not mentioned here, if you participated, let us know how you did!