Friday, November 4, 2016

A Complete Guide to Sprinting During NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday, everyone! Whew! Day three of NaNo and I'm sitting at 12.5k words (and I'm not done writing for today).

What's that you ask? How?


I've been doing writing sprints.

What the heck is a writing sprint? Great question!

Writing sprints are set amounts of time where a writer produces words as quickly as they can. Once the timer buzzes, they stop and do a word count, then pick up again when the next sprint starts.

Person with the most words gets a round of applause (or sometimes, a prize, depending on the sprinting group--however, this comes with an issue: cheating to win--when there are no prizes, no one has a need to falsify their stats, and nothing needs to be verified).

Sprints (typically) last anywhere from 15-60 minutes. They can be done on any social media site, though the preferred space is usually a designated thread on Facebook.

Brought to my attention by fellow author Ali Winters (thank you, woman!), there's a sprinting page on the NaNoWriMo site that will accommodate individuals as well as groups. Click here to be taken to that page. If you look below, you'll see the two options at the top and a "Dare Me" button near the bottom. I'm the curious sort, so I clicked mine. Below are the results. It changes every time you press it, too. Fun stuff.

I didn't play around with the group sprint button yet, but I have half a mind to get some of my writing buddies together and do just that.

Now, here's how to get the most out of your sprints:
  1. Know where your story is going. I like to plan a point about 10k words in that I know I want to get to, and build the prose up to there, but some folks go 2k. Whatever floats your boat, ya know?
  2. Write furiously for that half hour. Turn everything else off and be with your words.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time between sprints to refresh, go pee, or get coffee.
  4. If you can, take your eyes off the page and look elsewhere (or just close them) while you type. This will prevent you from noting and backspacing out misspellings, bad punctuation, or other flubbubs we writers make.
  5. Don't burn out. Take long lunch breaks or whatever other break you need when you need it.
  6. Try not to write a lot during your lulls (the periods between sprints). Use that time to plan what you'll write when you come back to sprinting or to just veg.
  7. Keep something to drink handy. Though you may not need it, it's better to have it and not use it. *grin*
Here's how my sprints are set up:
  • In the morning, I set a block of 1-3 hours aside (lately it's been 10AM, 11AM, and NOON). 
  • The first 30 minutes of those hours are used for sprinting, and the second 30 are used for tweaking, fixing my crazy misspellings I got from not looking at the screen, and marking things I want to take a closer look at later (during edits). 
  • Then I break for a long time (like 2-3 hours--NOON-2 or 3PM).
  • More time is set aside for later. Again, 1-3 hours (it's been 8PM, 9PM, and 10PM, but this week is a special one, so that will likely be cut by Monday.)
I'll show you next week's projected schedule so you have a better idea (life things have to happen on different days, but I'm not going to worry about it). I also don't write on weekends. Those are for my family. I refuse to succumb to writer burnout.

9AM - Sprint for 30 minutes
10AM - Sprint for 30 minutes
11AM - Sprint for 30 minutes
NOON-2PM - BREAK TIME (real break--no looking at my WIP)
3PM - Sprint for 30 minutes
4PM - Sprint for 30 minutes

Thing about it is, it works. I'm averaging 1k words every 30 minutes. If I sprint for 30 minutes, 5 hours a day, I've written 5k words. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but when you see that counter go down on your NaNo dashboard under "words per day to finish on time," you'll feel like a flipping ROCK STAR.

Any tips to add to the above?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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