#NaNoWriMo: The Power of Word Sprints

We’re now three weeks into November, and I want to reflect on what I have learned so far.

To be honest, before NaNoWriMo, I was an intermittent writer, who thought of myself as a writer but did very little creative writing in my free time. I wrote a lot throughout the day, but it was mostly emails, writing marketing copy, putting together documents and agendas at the day job, etc.

In other words, the writing I did was not filling my creative well. I would come home after a long day, sometimes make dinner (sometimes let my boyfriend starve because I didn’t feel like cooking and he doesn’t know how to boil water) and then settle in to read or play video games.

But then I made a commitment to myself to start writing again and pursue my dream of becoming a published author. NaNoWriMo was the perfect opportunity for me to get started.

One day I decided to see how much I could write in one day. This was the beginning of November and I had already outlined and prepped by novel in October, so I was confident that the words would just flow out of me.

Wrong.

I wrote a measly 206 words. For the entire day. Suddenly, the thought of writing 50,000 words in November seemed like an impossible task for me. I was falling back into that cycle of fear.

But then I got invited to do a word sprint on Twitter.

I had heard of word sprints before, having read Chris Fox’s book 5,000 words per hour but had yet to implement his process into my own writing habits.

The task was simple. Write as many words as you could on your work in progress in 15 minutes. Then, when time was up, you report back to the group how many words you did.

On a night where I would have probably not written at all, I ended up writing over 800 words just by making myself sprint with my tweeps on Twitter. Were they the best words I had ever written? Definitely not. But the fact that they were on the page excited me enough to keep going.

I have participated in a few more sprints over the course of November and even started sprinting by myself to help boost words.

The simple act of forcing myself to write in small bursts has allowed me to continue to push through the wall of fear and ignore my inner editor.

So far I have almost completed the first act of my Cinderella retelling, closing in at around 12,500 words and we still have a week left to go in NaNoWriMo. I may not be the fastest writer (hey #turtlewriters!) but I have found a consistency in my writing habit that I didn’t have before.

At this point, I know that even if I fall short of 50K, I will be sprinting my way through the end of November, confident that I have improved my writing speed tremendously even in these short few weeks.

Good luck to everyone finishing NaNoWriMo!

Remember, it’s often more about the journey than reaching the end destination.

-Em

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