I recently came across a writing exercise that I found very benefiting.
Chris Fox talks about it in his book “5000 Words Per Hour.” He calls it writing sprints.
A writing sprint is a pre-defined length of time when you do nothing but write. It has a start-time and an end-time. And while you are writing you will do nothing else but write. No answering the phone, no research on the web, no checking the mail. Not even going to the bathroom. All those things need to happen before you sit down to start the sprint.
Once the sprint has started your fingers should fly across the keyboard. You can’t stop until the time is over. You do not go back and edit or even correct the spelling. You keep going until the buzzer goes off.
The goal of the sprint is to get into the flow state where brain naturally starts focusing on writing and exclude everything else. It is like silencing the left brain (the logical brain) and letting the right brain to take over. For most people, these sudden bursts of flow are unpredictable and elusive.
Writing sprint help get into a flow state on command.
It allows cranking more words than we think is possible.
The way to get started on writing sprint is with micro-sprints. Just five minutes.
Just focus on writing a small article. Or one scene.
It is like training for a marathon but starting running for just five minutes.
Five minutes is the most important. You are not going to stop writing before the five minutes are over. You are not going to correct spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. You are just going to type out the small article or the scene for five minutes.
Because the goal is quantity, not quality. You need to train yourself to generate a massive volume to test without editing it. You start with five minutes and then build it up to half an hour to forty-five minutes.
There are several advantages of this exercise.
- You learn to complete projects. A vast majority of writers don’t even finish a short story, let alone a novel or a book. Writing sprint propels you to the end of your project.
- You start seeing the common problems with your writing over and over again. You start correcting them mentally and your future drafts start getting better.
- You learn to structure your article or scene on the fly. Rather than starting clueless you give your piece a beginning, middle and end.
I wrote this article using this technique. Wrote it in five minutes and then spent another ten to correct the spelling mistakes and other errors. Not bad outcome for fifteen minutes.