Monday, February 1, 2016

Anatomy of a Sprint
One of the best things about the break between semesters is the opportunity to put my writing first. And, thanks to a great presentation by fellow writer Ramona DeFelice Long, one way that I do that is to make sure I get my writing sprints in. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know all about my writing sprints, so you understand that getting myself into the habit between semesters (when I have lots of one hour time slots at my disposal) makes it easier for me to maintain the habit once the semester begins.

For me, the ideal sprint remains the one Ramona taught me: one hour, first thing in the morning, before the day takes over, with a goal of writing 1000 new words. This is the gold standard, the one to which I aspire.

The reality, however, is somewhat different.

On a good day, my one hour sprint consists of sixty uninterrupted minutes sometime early in the day. Because I have a high school student living in my house, and because procrastination is part of my writing process anyway, these sixty minutes rarely occur right out of the gate. I usually putter for a bit, checking email and often writing and posting my blog before settling in for my sprint, which occurs anywhere between mid-morning and bedtime.
Some days, I end up with a split sprint -- the first thirty minutes in the morning or early afternoon and the second thirty minutes in the late afternoon or evening. I try not to cut my sprint into more than 2 pieces, but some days, it happens.

Perhaps the most useful sprint variation I've stumbled across is the sprint as a means of digging into an unpalatable or overwhelming task. For me, that task is revising. I hate revising, but there's something about breaking revisions into one hour chunks that makes the process much less painful. By telling myself I have to revise for only an hour, I've already taken an insurmountable task (revising an entire novel!) and made it more approachable.

I rarely "cheat" and count writing I'd do anyway (blog posts, for example) as my sprint time. Regardless of how I do it, when I do it, or how many chunks I break it into, I think sprinting is meant to advance a work-in-progress.

What task do you want to tackle, but keep putting off? Could a sprint be the answer for you?

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