Monday, April 4, 2011

Writing Spurts and Sprints

Spurt: -verb (used without object)
to show marked, usually increased, activity or energy for a short period: The runners spurted forward in the
last lap of the race
1. marked increase of effort for a short period or distance, as in running, rowing, etc.
2. a sudden burst or outburst, as of activity, energy, or feeling.

90 Minute Spurts from Tate Publishing blog

Sprint: -noun
1. The act or an instance of sprinting, especially a short race at top speed.
2. A burst of speed or activity.
To move rapidly or at top speed for a brief period, as in running or swimming.

Writing Sprints by Stacia Kelly

Looking at these two definitions, they seem very similar to each other when thinking about writing. When I see writing sprints, I usually see it defined as something that needs to happen almost out of nowhere and you just write anything. It is a way to practice writing with possibly no real goal. However, that isn't always the case. It has been used to define what goes on during National Novel Writing Month.

When I see writing spurts, it means that you take the time on one specific project and there is a writing schedule to obtain to keep working on it. It means getting up early, using your breaks at work, or just setting enough time a night to write something that moves the project along as "marked increased effort".

Either way, these produce results in making the time to write.

For the past few weeks, I've had the goal to complete KIN. I did obtain my word count goal of 75,000 words, but the end of the book is still looming ahead. To accomplish my goals, I have put more increased effort into my writing and began calling it "writing spurts" (which was before I read the definitions today to distinguish a difference, which is still a bit cloudy to me).

On my breaks at work, I focus on building my word count and writing a scene for the fifteen minutes or half hour that I am given. At night, I sit down to keep building onto what I have written for the day. I keep track of my progress on the sidebar of my blog and record it in my Google Calendar so I can see the actual results over a course of time. The numbers from these writing sessions can range from 500 to 3,000 words in a day. It is amazing to see those numbers add up and to have that story move along, instead of it taunting me when I am "too busy".

Here are my March results:

March 1st-6th-- Busy with a writing grant proposal, as well as scheduling panels/demos for CoreCon
March 7th-- Started at 48,307 words
Wrote 20 out of the 25 days and averaged at 1,336 day
3 days were used for research and re-outlining
March 31st-- Ended at 75,014

Total: 26,707 written in March

I met my 70,000 word goal a few days before the end of March. The new goal is to finish the novel this week and let it sit for the month of April. I might do a run through before we leave for Japan (as of right now) in mid-May for the printed portable copy I plan to take with me on the trip. While we travel I can edit and doodle notes in it.

It is a great feeling reaching goals and proving that I can achieve them. The biggest reason for not writing is time, whether you think you don't have it or just not making the time. I must say it is a great feeling after realizing that there is potential for making time in my life, along with meeting realistic goals.

I hope that you can find and reach your own goals. Most of all, sit down and write!



  1. I like your explanation of writing in spurts.

    I think it's important to not just know what kind of writer you are - pantser vs. plotter, word counter or page counter (or those wacky scene counters) but to embrace that as well.

    I am proud to be a pantser who writes in spurts. But I'll even be more proud once I type the words, the end, in a draft.

  2. You can do it, Chris! It is amazing how many words you can put together just by writing here or there. I was thinking I was doing terrible over the past two years, and I wrote probably about 180,000-200,000 words. Every bit does count, even if you don't use it. It is practice!


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