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Writing Analytics
Blog | 1 September 2021

Supercharge Your Writing Productivity with Word Sprints

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Getting words on a page is a constant struggle for most writers. Finding the time and motivation to keep going for years is way harder than it seems. It's the main reason why so many talented writers quit too soon.

The evidence is clear: the more you can write, the higher are your chances of success. You'll hone your craft and improve as a writer. Publishing more work will also dramatically increase the likelihood that you'll build an audience of dedicated readers over time.

Productive writers employ many different tools and support systems to help them get words on the page. Many join writing groups or workshops and go on retreats with fellow writers to make progress on their projects.

Word sprints are one of those tools. You can do them alone or with others to reach your writing goals.

What is a word sprint?

A word sprint or writing sprint is a focused, time-limited session when you're only allowed to write and do nothing else. They're usually from 15 to 30 minutes long with short breaks between them. The goal is to write as many words as you can. However, that means different things to different people. Contrary to what the name suggests, word sprints don't have to be frantic — you can work at your own pace. The key ingredient is focus.

In recent years, word sprints with people on the Internet have become increasingly more common. You can start one yourself or join someone else's — the process is pretty informal. Someone posts an invite on Twitter or Discord with a start time and the proposed duration. Writers who are interested in joining will respond. Everyone starts working at the scheduled time. At the end of the sprint, the participants reply in the thread with an update on how their session went. You can share your word count if you want.

You can do them all at once or scatter several sprints throughout your day, whatever works for your schedule. When doing multiple sprints in a row, some writers like to outdo themselves by trying to write more words each time.

Word sprints are a fantastic way to consistently hit your daily writing goals, particularly when you're first drafting. It's a simple habit that can have a dramatic effect on your productivity as a writer.

Why do word sprints work?

How are word sprints better than just sitting down to write? Here we break down why word sprints work so well.

1. A sense of urgency

Writing with a timer gives you a sense of urgency. Writers have been using this trick for ages. It makes you aware of how quickly time passes by. Every minute that you waste is one that you're never getting back.

The timer is what makes the session feel like a sprint. You're "racing" against time, which is what we all do anyway, but we're just not thinking about it.

2. Knowing when it ends

Time constraints are important when it comes to managing your psychology as a writer.

It's much easier to start a difficult task if you know when it will be over. Particularly when you're not feeling like writing, you are more likely to do it when you know you will be done for the day in 30 minutes.

3. Setting mini-deadlines

Word sprints function as mini-deadlines. When you have four hours to do something, the work inevitably expands to fill the allotted time. Giving yourself small deadlines like these will keep you on your toes, making sure you're as productive as you can be.

4. Working with others

Writing can feel quite isolating, particularly when you're doing it all day every day. Doing word sprints with others will help you break up the monotony with these little watercooler-like encounters with your Internet writing friends or even complete strangers.

Even though you're still working in isolation, just knowing that other people are doing the same work at the same time as you can feel incredibly motivating.

Your first word sprint

Ready to start your first word sprint? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Have a Plan

To make the most of your word sprints, you should know ahead of time what you'll be writing about. It's up to you how much do you need to get going. Some writers start with only a vague idea; others do loads of research and prepare comprehensive outlines.

When you start a sprint, you should have everything you need to keep writing until the end.

2. Remove distractions

Be mindful of anything that might distract you. Turn on your website blocker. Leave your phone in another room. Stay as focused as possible for the duration of the sprint.

If anything distracts you, get back to writing as soon as possible. Being strict about this reinforces the positive effect word sprints will have on your productivity.

A writing sprint is a short period of intense concentration. During this time, your writing should be your top priority.

3. Focus on putting words on the page

If you're stuck on something, make a note and keep going. Don't be afraid to skip paragraphs and even whole chapters. You can do more research or thinking later and fill the gaps during a subsequent sprint.

A word sprint is the time to put words on the page. They might not be the right ones — that's ok. You can fix them later.

Word sprints in Writing Analytics

The Writing Analytics editor is the perfect writing app for word sprints. It has writing sessions built-in. Each session has a timer that starts automatically when you start typing. You can set both word and time-based goals.

Writing Analytics editor and dashboard.

The analytics engine in the app tracks various metrics while you work. It records how many words you write and delete, how fast you work, how focused you are and how much time you spend typing.

Goal progress in Writing Analytics
Goal progress in Writing Analytics.

When you set a goal in the app, a progress bar at the top will show you how much time you have left. At the end of each session, the editor will generate a report with your stats, so you know instantly how well you did.

Session report in Writing Analytics.

Writing Analytics comes with a host of other features like a habit tracker, writing planner and word tracker. You can also collect up to 46 different awards to mark important milestones on your writing journey.

Start writing today

Word sprints are a great tool when you need to get your words done quickly and efficiently. Join thousands of writers who reach their goals every day using word sprints.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Writing Analytics and start your first writing session today.