Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Word Sprints

I'm over at From the Write Angle today with my final (probably) post on Twitter hashtags for writers. One of the tags I mention is #nano. As most of you know NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month where a bunch of crazy writers (like me!) attempt to write a 50k first draft in 30 days.

As part of NaNo, there are word sprints to help you maintain the pace. If you follow @NaNoWordSprints, you'll see there's almost always a word sprint going on. Word sprints are timed 'races' where you try to get as many words time during the time limit - anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour from what I've seen. There are no prizes in this race - well, except a boost to your word count.

I don't always announce that I'm joining a sprint on twitter, but I often race along with the other writers. It's fun to see how the word counts match up.

Those in charge of the sprint will often throw in a dare or a challenge - things to add into your scene. Lost sock. Karaoke. Someone is killed on or by roller skates. Or maybe the dare will be to add in a challenge word - like alien or debris.

I rarely take up the dares because they don't usually work for my story, but they often make me smile. Last year one of the challenges was to add in a wild animal. My character was driving through the mountains and that dare added in a great scene about a run in with a moose. So, sometimes they do work out well. Regardless of the dare, the sprints are fun!

Have you ever tried word sprints? Do they work for you too?

(If you have time, I'd love to have you join the discussion over at From the Write Angle!)

46 comments:

  1. Good luck with NaNoWriMo!
    Sounds like you NaNoWriMo'ers know how to combine business and pleasure... a win-win situation!

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  2. The closest I get to word sprints is my weekly writer's group. We have a 45-minute to one hour long writing session, but we don't set any sort of word count goals when we work. We also did a three-minute sprint once, which surprisingly netted me an actual, complete story.

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  3. No I've never tried those! But I'm doing my own Nano instead of officially joining and I started in October. :)

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  4. I haven't tried these either. Rushing through a first draft just doesn't work for me. I'm off to check out your Twitter recommendations.

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  5. I bet everyone would want me to join a word sprint - it would guarantee that no one else would come in last.

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  6. I'm always interested in others' NaNo daily results and word sprints because they help to motivate me...but I'm like you. I'm a lurker and not a joiner! :)

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  7. Michelle - that's a great way to put it! A little bit of common sense among the craziness! :)

    Jeff - I'm impressed!! 3 minutes isn't a lot of time - that's awesome! :)

    Laura - good for you! I think the whole idea of NaNo is freeing and fun!

    Natalie - thanks! Oddly, I don't find I'm rushing through the draft - I just find myself finding more time for it! :)

    Alex - funny! You always says you're a slow typist. I bet with all the practice you get, you're getting faster! :)

    Elizabeth - I lurk at a lot of things! It's amazing how much I can learn from that! :)

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  8. I have never ever heard of word sprints until now!! LOL! Sounds like fun!! Enjoy!! Take care
    x

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  9. Old Kitty - they are fun - especially if you're stuck, they kind of force you through it! :)

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  10. I'd never heard about word sprints either, but then I've never taken the NaNo plunge! Maybe next year. Good luck with your NaNo.

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  11. I did a word sprint once with a CP--to see how much I could write in 45 minutes. It was kind of fun, and helped me loosen up, which is always a challenge for me!

    Good luck with NaNo!

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  12. Rosalind - I always fall in love with NaNo - it's such crazy fun! And the word sprints do help :)

    Laurel - they do help you loosen up - because you just can't stop and check. You've got to power on through. :)

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  13. I haven't tried word sprints, but I am intrigued. I might have stumbled on them on Twitter, but I wasn't paying close attention.

    I'll check out the link.

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  14. It sounds fun, but I'm rarely on Twitter long enough to do a word sprint.

    Btw, I love your new layout! (Maybe not new to you, but I haven't been in the blogosphere for so long that it's new to me!):)

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  15. I've never tried a word sprint. Sounds like fun! (Though I'm not on Twitter, so probably won't be participating in any.)

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  16. Medeia - thanks! The word sprints are a blast - just added about 1400 words with one tonight! :)

    Precy - thanks! I was forced to change because the template crashed & died, but I do like this new one too :)

    Golden Eagle - I think you can do them through one of the forums on NaNo site too, but I usually just follow the twitter ones :)

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  17. Believe it or not, I have not done a word sprint. I'm a writer that works at her own pace. But maybe that would be good for me once in a while!

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  18. All the best with your Nano'ing Jemi!

    Nas

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  19. Yes! I meet up with a bunch of Aussie writers online each night during nano to sprint my way there. Last year I too up several of the challenges... And as I rewrote... I deleted them. So I'm not doing that this year :S
    Xx

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  20. Kelly - I had fun with them last night and added over 2k to the ms - but they're obviously not for everyone - and not for every scene! :)

    Dezzy - the moose was great! And strangely I have moose in this story too... hm.

    Nas - thank you! I'm having a fun time with the story.

    Michelle - I agree - for the most part the challenges don't work for the story, so I ignore them. But once in a while they do work!

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  21. Word sprints are a great idea. I've never tried them, except as part of class exercises. Good luck with your story!

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  22. This year is the first year I actually have joined in with my local Nano group, and the first meeting I went to was filled with word wars. I actually struggled a bit..I felt that because I was rushing to 'compete' I wasn't writing quality, or thinking as I wrote. Too, I found that the break after a sprint sort of chopped into my creative process when what I wanted to do was keep on writing.

    So, I think for me, these sprints don't quite work, I need to be in my own head, not thinking about other people warring against my word count. That said, maybe a twitter one would work better, because after the sprint, I could choose to keep going , whereas in person it's difficult because everyone is busy chatting and socializing. (And that's a great part too, of course!)

    Good luck with your Nano!

    Ange

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  23. I've trid a personal word sprint with an egg timer and it really does work! It's good for teaching a writer to stay focussed... and like you said, it's great for boosting that word count. I like the idea of a twitter one.

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  24. Beth - thanks! They are fun! I've added a bunch of words this week using them :)

    Angela - I've never done a live nano event. That would be very different! I do tend to miss the end times of the sprints because I'm involved in my story - so I'm with you there!

    Lynda - an egg timer would be perfect. I've set my iPod timer a few times to help me focus - no interruptions until it bings!

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  25. I've never dipped my toe into the sprints. Now that report cards are done I may give them a go. They burn calories too, right?

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  26. Leslie - of course they do! ... at least that's what I keep telling myself! :)

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  27. I haven't tried a sprint. Maybe I should :)

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  28. Carol - they can be motivating - especially if you've got a scene in mind already :)

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  29. The sprints do sound like fun! It must be exciting to race other writers- I think I might start typing with all kinds of typos. :) Happy writing!
    ~Jess

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  30. I'm more the charge ahead at my own pace kind of NaNo writer. If I do sprints I'll probably hurt myself. :D

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  31. I'm so competitive, word sprints completely stress me out, so I usually try to avoid them!:)

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  32. Jess - they are fun - but my Internal Editor would completely lose it if I left the typos - I always go back & fix right away :)

    Pat - I think for me it depends on my mood. When I don't have a scene in mind, it helps to push me :)

    Talli - that's funny! I'm not a fan of losing either, but I don't find them that stressful ... yet! :)

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  33. I could do writing sprints as long as legibility wasn't a requirement.

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  34. Diane - I don't think I could do them without a laptop - and I don't know if I could read mine after either!

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  35. I tried doing sprints... But then I was like naahhhhh. If the sprint starts at like 10 and its 10:03 I say "Shoot, I missed it." It's quite sad.

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  36. SC - that part is a bit of a pain. I've actually had sprint buddies in the past & that was much better for me! :)

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  37. I am so behindin my word count for Nano that it's pathetic. Once the Diwali holidays in India are over, it's a huge word sprint for me if I want to reach the target.

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  38. I've never heard of word sprints, but they do sound like fun. And good luck with Nano!!!

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  39. Maria - it's hard when celebrations and holiday seasons get in the way! I have a few kids in my class celebrating Diwali too - enjoy!! :)

    Susan - thank you! I don't do the word sprints often, but they are good when I need a bit of a boost! :)

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  40. I used to do something like those with my friends. They were fun but I've not done one in ages. I might look into one.

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  41. Jack - I don't use them often either, but they're great when I'm in the mood! :)

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  42. Oh neat! I hadn't heard of those but I'm very very new on Twitter. Will try tomorrow!

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  43. Deniz - They are fun! I hope you find one that works for you :)

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  44. I haven't heard of word sprints, but they sound like a lot of fun. :)

    Best wishes with your NaNo novel!

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  45. Sharon - they are fun! And thanks - it's going well, but you never know! :)

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