Writing Sprints Experience

This July, I challenged myself to finish a book I was writing and write 6 pages a day. I treated them as separate goals, considering I know I wouldn’t be able to write on one subject alone for a month straight. That’s just not how I work at all, and in order to encourage me to write every day and keep track of what I was writing, I found that there as an app for it called 5KWPH, created by a writer by the name of Chris Fox. (This is not any kind of sponsored post; it’s just what I learned by utilizing the app.)

The app was easily accessible, and efficient even in its free version. I was only able to keep track of one project at a time, and once discovering that, that’s where I got the idea to test out writing my book with it. I began with 20 minute sprints that I’d separate with about 5-10 minute breaks in between.

In my first couple of sprints, my average was around the rate of 1,860 words per hour (wph). As time went on, I could do more words per hour as I went on, naturally. My highest rate (and definitely an outlier) was 2,442 wph. I got more and more into the challenge of seeing if I could get close to 5,000 wph while I wrote my book. What can I say; I like pushing my limits and seeing what I can do.

I got a lot more done as I wrote, quite obviously. Numbers are encouraging to me. The science of keeping track of my own progress reinforces my confidence in my abilities and –at least for me—is encouraging to continue my passions. I could reach about six pages in an hour, and at the least that meant I could write one hour a day and reach my goal.

Something else I noticed while doing writing sprints was that the more I did them in shorter bouts, the more I didn’t want to write. It was the most unexpected and weirdest effect of this activity. I’d spend so much intense energy focusing on writing that it’d be exhausting on my breaks. I felt like I wanted to spend more time taking breaks than to continue writing.

However, there are a certain number of other factors that if I changed, I wonder if I’d still feel the same. If I switched between projects with this method, whether it be every other day or maybe even every other sprint, would I still feel exhausted? I’ve never had immense difficulty with focusing on certain tasks, but if anything I wind up hyper-focusing and then getting burnt out before I go to do something else.

In order to combat this feeling of intense exhaustion, I decided to see what would happen if I extended the sprints to 30 minute sprints. My rate of work was roughly the same, and at times, even higher than the average rate of 20 minute sprints. I produced about the same results and feel less significant pressure by just adding on ten more minutes, thus only needing one break between sprints instead of two. Additionally, I had gotten used to doing three sprints a day and wound up falling into the habit of doing an hour and a half of writing per day easily, contrary to just the one. I’d be able to get the third sprint in and only then would the exhaustion start to creep in.

The app was certainly helpful. The only two issues I had with the app itself was that it was occasionally buggy. If I paused the sprint sometimes the app would launch myself back a couple of minutes when I resumed it, and others it just stopped the sprint altogether. Usually that happened if I hopped to another app quickly or answered a phone call. The only other “issue” I had with the app (which isn’t really one at all) was the layout when receiving your sprint results. It’d list the project, wph, sprint duration, daily words, and then finally the sprint words. It’d be much more efficient to have the sprint words before the sprint duration, or even the words per hour. That’s the first thing I want to know when I finished a sprint; how many words I did and then the rate. Considering I’d wind up writing past midnight, when I’d try to calculate my own daily words it got confusing to find the right numbers. That’s just my own thoughts on the design, however. Functionality-wise, the app works near-perfectly.

Overall? I’ll definitely be doing writing sprints again, probably for NaNoWriMo. Considering on most days (except like, two) I was able to accomplish the minimum for NaNoWriMo, I am confident with this method I’ll be able to win my first attempt as well. For writing as long as I have, I’m surprised I haven’t discovered this sooner. I’m glad I have!