Thursday, August 5, 2021

Do You Participate in Writing Sprints?

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I love the Olympics. 

I like sports. I watch football and baseball and basketball all the time. But during the Olympics, I find myself watching all kinds of random sports that I know nothing about. 

During the Winter Olympics it’s curling. This year’s Summer Olympics had me watching women’s rugby and I still have questions about that one. Are there rules? Because it seems like they just throw the ball and jump on each other? (Seriously, if you’re a rugby expert, explain this to me!) 


One of the things I love most about the Olympics is the way the athletes have control of their bodies. They flip, they twist, they jump, they take unbelievable risks on bikes and balance beams, they run, and they swim. Some athletes have unbelievable endurance. Some athletes are unbelievably fast. 

Of course, this made me think about writing. Because if you’re going to make a career out of writing, you’re going to need to take control of your writing time and at different times be both a sprinter and an endurance writer. 

Endurance is necessary to finish a manuscript. You’ll face days, maybe even weeks, where you need to write thousands of words a day in order to meet your deadlines. But when you finally type the end, you’re still nowhere near done. There’s revising, editing, marketing, and publicity, and if you happen to have a multi-book contract or you’re planning to indie publish a book every six, nine, or twelve months, you’ll be doing that post-writing work on the book you’ve finished while you’re writing the next book. 

I’ve been an endurance writer for a while now, but I’ve recently rediscovered how effective - and fun - it can be to sprint, even though as a rule, I’m not wired for sprinting. I prefer a slower pace, both physically and mentally. 

But writing sprints are a fabulous way to get my words in when time is short, and even more importantly, when I’m distracted because all I want to do is watch the Olympics! You can play with the timing to see what works best for you, but fifteen minutes works great for me. 

Here are my favorite writing sprints:

Alone. Okay, this one isn’t actually my favorite, but it is effective. Even when I’m tired and distracted, I can usually convince myself to work for fifteen minutes. And once I get that first fifteen minutes done, I’m usually revved up and ready to go for another few rounds. 

Advantages: I just need my computer. It’s unnecessary to coordinate with anyone else. I can do this at any time of day or night. 

In person. I’m fortunate to have many writing friends who live nearby. We can meet in our homes, local coffee shops, etc. and work for a few hours. We do have to be careful to work and not talk the whole time, but this is where sprinting helps. We have to shut up and focus! 

Advantages: It’s always encouraging to spend time with fellow writers. And a little friendly competition is a good thing!

Via text. Yes, this works. In fact, it works so well that this is the method I use most often. Text your writing buddies to get ready, set a fifteen minute timer, text “go” and then write as fast as you can. When the timer goes off, text “stop” and calculate your word count. Then do it again. And again. This method has netted me around 3K in word count over the past few days. 

Advantages: You can do this anywhere. Anytime. You don’t have to put on real clothes or brush your hair or anything. :) 

Zoom. This method allows you to sprint with writers all over the world and it’s also a great option if it’s difficult for you to get out of the house to meet up with others. When we do this, we mute our computers during the fifteen minutes we’re sprinting, but we keep the video on to maintain the sense of community. Then we unmute when we’re tallying our word count. 

Advantages: Keeps you connected to your far-flung writer friends. And it’s fun!

There are probably more methods, but these are the ones I use. If you have another method, please share it with us. And if you haven’t tried sprinting, give it a shot and let us know how it goes! 

Grace and peace,


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicks off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series. 

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after by signing up for her newsletter at LYNNHBLACKBURN.COM and @LynnHBlackburn on BOOKBUBFACEBOOKTWITTERPINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.

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