I’m a slow writer. Not only do I like to have an outline for a novel or short story, which makes me a plotter, but I’m a plodder. I’m not complaining; the process works for me so I’m reasonably happy with it.
I’m always on the lookout for smarter or better ways to work, though, and sometimes I dream of working faster. And sometimes I just like shiny new things.
One of those shiny new things, new to me anyway, is word sprints. Sprints are timed bursts of focused writing that help you grow your word count—twenty minutes, half an hour, an hour of mad typing without distractions = words!
I can see the merit in this method. The times I’ve sprinted, though, I spent so much time rewriting the sprinted words that I finished the day no farther ahead. I felt anxious, too. Maybe because I’d climbed out of my comfortable rut. Or is it possible I’m not a sprinter? If something I found on the Internet is true, about why sprinting works, then I’m probably not: “What slows you down is thinking through what you’re writing.” Well, rats. For me, part of the fun of writing is thinking it through as I go.
I’m not irredeemably in a process rut, though. Recently, as I finished the last ten chapters of a book, I tried jogging instead of sprinting. I’d jog one day and walk the next. On jogging days, I expanded my detailed outline of a chapter with quick brushstrokes, convoluted or incomplete sentences, and by leaping over details that didn’t immediately come to mind. On walking days, I revised and polished. On walking days, I looked forward to jogging the next day as a freer form of writing. On jogging days, I looked forward to walking the next day to bring the writing into focus. I loved working like that. It was successful, too, because I turned the manuscript in three days early. Ta da!
I’ll leap over stumbling points, find my way to each checkpoint, and have the mad fun of going pell-mell. The next day I’ll go back along that raucous route, at a thoughtful stroll, and enjoy recording the details I missed.
Writers, what new writing methods have you tried? Readers, what sports do you picture your favorite authors participating in?