On Writing Sprints

Do you know what these are? Quick explanation. The clock hits 12:30. You start writing and don’t stop until 1:00. Something like that. They’re just another tool that people use to force themselves to write. Which I think is stupid.

I’ve never participated in one of these, but when I used to follow some writers on Twitter I’d always see them on my TL. But I unfollowed those people long ago. Thankfully. Writing sprints remind me a little of NaNo. You know, that month in which people try writing 50,000 words of crap? These are just on a lower level.

I’ve said this more times than I can possibly remember, but I don’t understand why everyone is in such a rush. One guy told me before that he rushed to write and publish his book because he was already in his 70s. Okay. There’s someone with a valid reason, but all these other people have none. Yet they still take part in NaNo every year and probably do these stupid writing sprints every Friday. All while writing a below average book.

What’s your take on writing sprints?

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49 thoughts on “On Writing Sprints

  1. Personally, I write pretty slowly, but I think it’s okay to rush a draft as long as you don’t rush the edit!

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  2. My only opinion about it is if it works for someone, why not? I’m too much of a noob to judge, but I’d have to (personally) wonder if writing was really what I wanted to do with my time if I have to have a challenge to force the words to come out of me as quickly as possible. Maybe they’re worried about making more money for their time? Again, maybe a reason to consider if being a writer is what they want to do with their life.

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    • But does it work? I don’t think so. Not really. No matter what other people say. I’ve never heard of traditionally published authors trying to force themselves to write against the clock or in a month or whatever the exercise might be.

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  3. I believe I’ve commented on NaNoWiMo before. I always think of it as NaNaNa with a wagging finger included. In other words, DON’T. Writing a novel, book, blogpost, poem, article or whatever should be because you enjoy writing. Forcing it is not enjoyable, is it? Well. maybe for some–those who really, really enjoy pain.. But the results are usually dismal. But I digress–again.
    There’s writing for the pleasure of it and then there’s writing for publication and never the twain shall meet. For gosh sakes, when writing anything with the idea of publishing it, think of your reader.
    On the other side of the issue, who is your reader? Who are you writing for? Writing for your own pleasure is okay, but to ever get past being an amateur hobbyist and onward through the gates into the realm of professional author, one must write to and for his or her audience. If an author is ever to have an audience, their reader must be considered at all times. Nuff said.

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  4. I think these things can work to kick start your writing. If you’ve been too busy or too anxious about starting, these things can get you going. Then you can decide what to keep and what to throw out. I agree that they work for some people and they have worked for me a time or two.
    As for writing for pleasure and for publication being at odds with each other, I think it all needs to be for pleasure or what are you doing? I don’t think of the audience until it’s time for editing, and then it’s all about them.

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  5. I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said but I understand why some people do these things. I write when I can, sometimes when I have to for a deadline, but I don’t participate in “writing exercises.” I might if I was stuck or had run out of ideas (Oh god I hope that never happens!) but so far, I haven’t needed something like that to push me. I believe some people do need the push or think they do. I think confidence in writing takes time (maybe a lifetime) and as writers come into their own a bit maybe they don’t need these tactics anymore.

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    • I’m sure you’ve written way more than I have, but I also have never had any desire to participate in anything like this. I especially like your point about confidence. I don’t think any person confident with their writing would have any need for these things.

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  6. I think writing sprints and such should be done for fun–I would only partake in a writing sprint if I just wanted to see how much I could write or what I could come up with in a set amount of time. If I was wanting to write something that I could share with others or even sell, then I don’t think writing sprints would be the way to go. Like other commenters have said, one should write out of natural interest, not because they feel they need to. Otherwise, maybe they should question why they are writing or why they want to write in the first place.

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  7. I used to do writing sprints all the time. I was ranked in the top ten but then I got popped for juicing. I swear it must have been something in the supplement I was taking. The commision was having none of it though. I spend a lot of my time training up and coming sprint writers now.

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  8. I’ve never posted and shown anyone ANYTHING I’ve written without spending at least a few days on it first; short stories, poems, random thoughts posts, etc. I know people who just bust stuff out in an hour and I honestly can’t help but think, “You know, this would probably be so much better if you’d chill and take the time to work REALLY hard on it.”
    So like you, I’m not a fan.

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  9. Whatever works. I’ve turned off my WiFi and dedicated myself to my writing for a certain amount of time… usually it’s because the kids are out of the house, and I have some quiet time. I have to make the most of that when I have it, and the Internet is like a giant, shiny ball of flame and I’m the moth. So I know that dedicating myself to a task for X amount of time when I have that time to devote… that works for me. But unlike a sprint, I really don’t care if I “beat my high score” or whatever it is they do. It’s not a game of “how many words can I pound out in X amount of time.” It’s more of “I’m going to dedicate myself to writing for the next hour, and I don’t care if the house burns down around me. I’m not stopping.”

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  10. My take is the same irritable take on seem to have on every “norm”. I don’t care for it.

    Every once in a while I will look into the “writer world” and see what they’re all doing. I don’t feel like a part of them for many reasons, but a big one is that I like to do things my own way. And sometimes, like in most circles both tangible and intangible, I feel like I’m not good enough…or as if I’m late to the party.

    I guess, the cynic part of me views a lot of the writing people as ass-kissers. I witness a lot of, “Wow, you really captivated me with the way you described the essence of his eyes and the way they lit up the room. It reminded me of a scene from a 1929 prohibitionist piece…” And then I back away slowly.

    I didn’t mean for this comment to be so long…I’ll try and wrap it up. All in all, if you’re the type of person who procrastinates without a deadline and you can produce genuinely fantastic prose in a time crunch, then you’re a better writer than me. As for me, I have to take my time. It took me well over a year to write my first and only novel. I finished it in December and I am going through the incredibly painstaking process of editing. I wish it wasn’t so time-consuming for me, but it just is. I envy those who seem to glide through this whole process. But I enjoy it just the same.

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    • I. LOVE. THIS. Mostly the part about writers sucking up to other writers. How often do you read any writing post on which someone wants feedback and there’s actual criticism? I don’t think I do. Everyone loves everyone and gives no feedback whatsoever. It’s a joke is what it is.

      Last thing, I’m sure your book is much better than someone else’s that was rushed through.

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      • I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way! I don’t want a world of bullying, amateur critics, but I will always, always shy away from “WOW, everything you write is better than Toni Morrison!” Because it’s a lie. And the best way to destroy a writer with any inkling of merit is to tell them how wonderful they are. It’s like telling your kid they’re smart. If you do that, they will think they don’t need to work for anything anymore. You want them to be confident enough, but you need them to be nervous. Just like writers need to always be questioning themselves, their work, their message.

        Ugh, sorry, I’m really long-winded today. Maybe you just hit on a really sensitive subject for me.

        And thank you, I really hope you’re right. It’s definitely not ready, but I’m glad that I recognize that it’s not. I hope that it, one day, is ready for real people to read. πŸ˜‰

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      • Yes. Yes. Yes. YES! Seriously, we agree on every point you made.

        If you’re really spending all this time on it, then it’ll probably come out better than even you expect.

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      • Well, let’s be honest, I’ve been looking at puppies available for foster for the last two hours, so I’m not so diligent. BUT when I am, I SO am. hahaha πŸ˜€

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      • Hahaha it’s okay. Everyone gets distracted by puppies. Or kittens. It’d be worse if you’d been staring at your ceiling fan or something weird.

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      • But it’s a beautiful fan. I especially like the dust bunnies that have been building a fort up there.

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      • Haha that’s not good.

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  11. I’ve never written like this and I *probably* never will. If I’m pressured to do something, even by myself, it’s just not going to happen. So… nope.

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  12. Pretty much every first draft is going to equal a “below average” book. Are you more irritated about people self-publishing such books/submitting them to literary professionals before they’re edited? Because I do understand that gripe, I would agree that NaNo/writing sprints unfortunately encourage that behavior in some people.

    But I don’t really understand why you’re irritated by people writing crappy first drafts, because first drafts are going to be crappy regardless of how long or fast it takes to write them. For me, as long as someone’s final product is good, I don’t care how they got there. I don’t care if it started as a writing sprint or if it took them ten calculated years to form. If they edit their book skillfully and wait until the story is truly ready to be seen by readers, does it matter?

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    • I’m not irritated at all. I just don’t understand why people have to use gimmicks to write. I understand time constraints because of family or school or work, but is it so hard to just tell yourself that you’re going to write for the next hour or something rather than “Let me see how many words I can get down in thirty minutes”? That’s my issue. I just don’t see the point of NaNo or writing sprints or whatever people come up with.

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