Wow, has it really been since September? NSFW

I’d like to say I haven’t been doing anything, but… yeah, you know I’m lying. I think I need to make 2019 the year I have at least one to two blog posts per week until it becomes a habit. Which is hard for me. Why? I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate writing blog posts. It feels like I’m talking into the abyss. Plus, you know, I’m really a very boring person. My characters live far more exciting lives than I do. Still, I’m an author. I should be able to find something worth writing about that’s more often than, apparently, once every three or four months. Shame on me. Fifty smacks with a wet noodle… or maybe something harder.

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As it turns out, I actually have something to say today. Unfortunately, unless you’re a fellow author, you probably won’t find it very interesting. So, if you are a reader: Yes, I do have a new release coming. It will be available at the end of this month/beginning of February and found in the 3rd annual Black Light Valentine’s box set. I’d love to show you the cover, but at this point, I haven’t seen it yet.

Now, for the authors. Some of you know I host a lot of author challenges geared towards new authors, who need that encouragement to sit down and keep writing, but also towards established authors, who have a lot of deadlines or need help getting past life’s little obstacles, so they can rediscover their focus. This year, I’m only posting one challenge. It started on the 1st and will run month-to-month, each author setting their own monthly goals and updating their own progress. If you want to join, here’s the Facebook link.

In this group, every day I post memes of encouragement, plus tips and tricks writers can use to elevate their writing and refine their craft. Once a week, I’m going to challenge myself to get on this blog and post something that might help my fellow authors (regardless of publishing experience). Today’s topic: Writing Sprints.

rolling eyes supernatural

Don’t leave.

But they don’t work for me, you grumble.

Keep reading anyway.

Whether or not writing sprints worked (or didn’t) for you in the past, there are some very real reasons why you should continue (re-try) using them.

For those who don’t know and didn’t click the handy link I made above, a writing sprint is a timed countdown during which you challenge yourself to do nothing but write. No phone. No Facebook. No distractions. Last week I posted a link to two Facebook author groups which regularly host writing sprints. But there are also private programs that you can use. Write or Die is the first that comes to mind. It costs $30 to buy the program, but can also be used free online.
To be honest, I used to think I sucked at racing the clock. I thought surely the pressure of trying to work on my book while the seconds count down would turn my head blank, the words would refuse to come, and I’d end up frustrated and swearing, probably in some public coffee shop, scandalizing children and the morally sound until someone asked me to leave. I was pleasantly surprised. It is now my go-to process when I want to feel productive or I have got to get this freaking WIP finished.
golem no no
But we hates it, you say in your best Golem voice.
Tough noogies. You are a professional (or you want to be). Even if you are not a big believer in sprints, there are some very specific moments during the book-writing process when you really ought to give sprinting a try. Here are a few:
 
When Your Muse Isn’t Talking to You – When you sit down to do a sprint, you switch your brain over to a different creative setting. At that point, it’s all about getting it down on paper. You aren’t editing. You aren’t fixing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to meet your word goal. So it’s almost like disengaging your brain and doing free-style writing. I have had some really awesome plot situations happen that I never would have considered had it not come spilling out during a sprint.
 
When Deadlines Are Looming
deadline
When you absolutely must get this book done or you won’t be included in that next great box set, or your publisher NEEDS your first draft so you don’t miss a window of promotional opportunity, then writing sprints can be your best friend. Whether your deadlines are self-imposed (because you need X-amount of books published this year to guarantee you make your rent every month) or imposed by forces outside your control, missing a deadline is a big deal. Holiday-themed WIPs that miss their publishing window won’t get published until next year and you won’t get paid. Nobody buys a Christmas story after Christmas. Want to get your WIP into the promo packet at that hugely popular authors’ conference coming up? If you miss that window, it will not go in the magazine and your work will not be seen by the hundreds if not thousands of people already planning to attend that conference. And it’s not just the promo packet. You might miss the deadline to get published in time for that convention, and those hungry-to-buy readers searching for a new author to love… they’re not going to find your book.
It’s not always easy to sit down, shut off all distractions and just write. You know you have to do it; but the longer you stare at your screen, the more it starts to feel as if your inner author is sprawled out, kicking, flailing and sobbing, like a three-year-old in the cereal aisle. Timed writing sprints shut your brain off and give you something different to focus on. That deadline, while it may be a very real thing looming up in your very-near future, it is still a distant, abstract concept. The next five, or fifteen, or thirty minutes, however, is not. That is real and immediate, and it helps to lock you in so you can focus on your work.
When Your Writer’s Block Lasts More Then One Day
writer's block
That’s right. One day. You are an author. You don’t get to have writer’s block that lasts for days or weeks or months, shutting you off from your craft. The best way to get rid of writer’s block isn’t to wait it out; it’s to work it out. In this case, writing sprints are your best friend. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to get it down and keep going until you once more know where you’re going.
When Writing Feels Impossible
impossible
I went through a funk this last month. For days writing felt more like pulling teeth. I struggled over every single word. Finally, I pulled up Write or Die, I set it for 100 words and 5 minutes. And I did that, over and over again, all day for two days. Sometimes I didn’t hit that 100 words before time ran out, but my sprints don’t stop until I reach my word goal. Eventually, I reached some magical point where I snapped out of it and was able to return to my normal rate of word production. Remember, writer’s block and difficult-to-write scenes only last forever if you don’t push through them.
Sense of Accomplishment – On a good day, left to my own devices, I can write upwards of 2k words. On a day where I use Write or Die and join in on my fellow authors’ sprints, I can hit 4k or more. There is nothing like realizing, ‘Holy Hannah! I just wrote like one of those authors!’ You know, the ones who turn out 8k per day seemingly so effortlessly, while, somewhere in Kansas, you’re staring at your laptop, wondering what’s another word for ‘crap’ because you’re pretty sure that’s what you just wrote.
Or, is that just me?
Dang it.
The only writer to whom you should
Regardless of whether you’ve tried it in the past and you don’t feel it worked for you, if you’re wallowing in one of the points I’ve made above, give timed writing another shot. You don’t have to do it every day. You don’t have to do it every week. But, the success you have with it might just surprise you.

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