NaNoWriMo Day 8: Word Sprints

One practice I’ve put into play with NaNo 22 is writing sprints. I’ve done them in the past, but I pretty much use them exclusively to get my word count done. I do one or two before work and about two or three after work.


Word Sprint:

a short period of time in which a writer dashes out as many words as possible in order to build up word count for a writing project.


Most of the sprints I’ve done so far have been 30 minutes of focused non-stop writing. I’ve done 20-minute sprints and I’m surprised how how many words I can get in even then. I think I’ve done a few short 10-minute ones. But most are 30 minutes, and I can get about 500 words in during that time.

Doing a sprint or two in the morning really helps keep my motivation up. I don’t have much energy after work, but knowing I only have say less than a thousand words seems doable. If I got 900-1000 words in the morning, 600 words in the evening seems like nothing.

So far, this year, I’ve only done self-sprints. I’m by myself, either at home or at a coffee shop and do a word sprint for 20-30 minutes. Because of Covid, I haven’t gotten together with other writers for sprints, but now that that’s an option again, I’m going to try at least once before the end of the month. 

There are also online sprints. You can do a Zoom call with other writers and do sprints. I haven’t done any of those. There are also opportunities to do sprints on YouTube on AuthorTube channels. The YouTuber will host live sessions where background music is on and you can do a sprint with them. They are recorded, so you can still play them and do sprints. It may seem strange to do sprints online because people are just on video typing, but it can help writers feel less alone. 

Whether doing a sprint by oneself or with others, sprints can be a game. Usually, when doing sprints others, whether online or at a coffee shop, at the end of a sprint everyone counts the number of words to see who got the most. Even if you do sprints by yourself, you can always try to beat your personal best. But word sprints are super fun with other writers.

Speaking of which, that’s one thing I like about NaNoWriMo. It’s the community. Writing can be a solitary activity, but NaNoWriMo is one time of the year it’s hundreds of thousands of people writing together.

I guess word sprints can be a great way to do a fast draft, especially for a time like NaNoWriMo. Writing as many words as you can for a short period of time is a great way to build up your word count quickly. Nothing wrong with writing for a few hours at a time, but I get worn out. By taking breaks between sprints can keep me from getting burn out.

If you haven’t tried a writing sprint, I highly recommend you try it once or twice to see if it helps your writing process.

Word count: 11817

Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt

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