We all have them. They’re those days when it’s hard to even drag yourself out of bed, much less write all the words you know you need to write.
Sometimes, ‘Mondays’ don’t even show up on Mondays. But you know them when they come creeping up on you. So, how do we fight them? By exercising our creativity, even if it’s against our will at first.
One of my favorite ways to push past the ‘Monday’ Doldrums is with word sprints. I first learned about these magical beasts during my second NaNoWriMo experience, and let me tell you, they work wonders when your brain is moving slower than you want.
Word Sprints: MAKE MAGIC HAPPEN
Here’s what you do:
1. Pick an amount of time to sprint. This can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. Start small and work up from there.
2. Pick a word-count goal. You don’t have to do this, but it really helps with motivation. 100 words, 500 words, and 1,000 words are all solid (and possible, I promise!) goals for sprinting. Obviously, trying to do 1,000 words in 5 minutes isn’t what I’m suggesting, but it’s a totally reasonable goal for a one hour or even 30-minute sprint once you get going.
3. Find some inspiration: I love turning on a playlist that’s related to my story, finding an image on tumblr or Pinterest to inspire me, or choosing a random prompt to throw into my scene. *Don’t spend too much time on this, otherwise you’ll never start your sprint!*
4. Start your timer and WRITE LIKE THE WIND! Don’t stop until your timer does. Also, don’t delete anything–you can edit later. The point is to get words on the page! 🙂
5. Sit back, admire your word count, take a little break, and then return to Step 1.
Practice Makes Progress
Ready to try it, but don’t want to start from scratch? I’ve put together a sample Sprinting Workout. This will last about two hours if you do the whole thing from start to finish. Get ready to flex your creative muscle, and WRITE ALL THE WORDS!
Round One: Warmup
Time: 5 minutes
Goal: 100 words
Inspiration: Include fire or a spark to get you going.
Time: 20 minutes
Goal: 300 words
Inspiration: “Royals” (cover by Pentatonix)
Time: 15 minutes
Goal: 250 words
Inspiration: I dare you to include a cat named Fisby in your story. (Don’t worry, you can take her out again later. But you might fall in love with her…)
Round Four: The BIG One
Time: 30 minutes
Goal: 750 words (I know it sounds like a lot, but try it! Any words added is a win, even if you don’t hit the goal!)
Inspiration: This Picture from MyCelticHeart on Tumblr
*7-minute break* You’ve earned it! Go get a snack. 🙂
Time: 20 minutes
Goal: 300 words
Inspiration: Give your characters something to eat. Even fictional people get hungry!
Round Six: Cool down
Time: 10 minutes
Goal: 200 words
Inspiration: “Brand New” by Ben Rector
*Sit back and bask in your accomplishment*
You did it! Congratulations!
If you powered all the way through this two-hour workout, WOW! Great job! You may have even added 1,900 words (or more!) to your story if you reached all of the goals.
If you only did part of it, but still got more words on the page than you had before, AWESOME!
There are lots of great ways to utilize word sprints. My favorite is to do it with other people. Make it a friendly competition, even. Whoever gets the most words by the end wins bragging rights for the week (or coffee or a snack if you want to make it interesting).
Now it’s your turn! Have you used word sprints before? What are your favorite tips? Share them in the comments!
Dana, signing off. Happy Sprinting!