Writing sprints could be the answer to your “I don’t have time to write” problem. Just as physical sprints can help you become a stronger runner or cyclist, writing sprints can strengthen your creativity.

What is a writing sprint?

A writing sprint is a short period of time during which you write as much as you can – without editing. You simply set a timer and write! The key, however, is to stay laser-focused during that time.

I recommend 20 to 30 minutes for a writing sprint.

Why You Should Try Writing Sprints

If you think writing sprints won’t help you write your book or launch that blog or Substack newsletter – think again. Remember, a book is written one page at a time. You don’t need to block off 4 hours of writing time every day to complete your big project. Regular writing sprints can help get the job done.

Here are 3 ways writing sprints can make you a stronger writer:

Develop discipline.

With writing sprints, there’s no time for writer’s block. Go into each sprint with a prompt or a plan and just write. You don’t have time to sit around waiting to feel inspired. Committing to regular writing sprints will teach you to show up for your writing and for yourself even when you don’t feel like it. This is what professional writers do. This is discipline. And you’ll often find that once you turn on the faucet, the water will flow.

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

W. Somerset Maugham

This tongue-in-cheek quote exemplifies what it means to just show up and DO THE WORK. Start writing and the inspiration will follow.

Overcome perfectionism.

During a writing sprint, you are just writing. You’re not editing. You’ll schedule that for another time. Give yourself permission to release perfectionism and JUST WRITE. When you edit yourself, you compromise the amount of writing you could get done during your sprint.

If you need help with this, try writing or typing this prompt at the top of your page at the start of each session:

If it didn’t have to be perfect, I would write…

Get more done in less time.

Writing sprints are much like the Pomodoro Technique, of which I am a BIG fan. Developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, this time management method calls for you to use a timer to break work into intervals (usually 25 minutes) which are separated by short breaks (typically 5 minutes). After 4 work periods, or pomodoros, you would take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes.

Fun fact: The Pomodoro Technique is named after the Italian word for tomato because Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer when he developed the method as a university student.

For a writing sprint, though, feel free to do just one Pomodoro – one 25-minute writing session – if that’s all you have time for.

The Pomodoro Technique works because during each work period you are to be laser-focused on the task at hand. And with no interruptions wrecking your flow, you’re able to get more done. When I was a teacher, I used Pomodoro when I was grading papers and would get done in half the time than when I didn’t.

Now as a writerpreneur, I often use it when working on bookkeeping. I even use it when cleaning my house so I won’t stop to scroll Instagram or dance and sing to the music I’m playing in the background.

With a writing pomodoro you will get more done in less time and finally see that YES, YOU DO HAVE TIME TO WRITE.

How to Prepare for Your Writing Sprint

Every writing routine needs a time, a place, and a plan.

Decide when you will do your writing sprint. If you do your best writing first thing in the morning, get up earlier and get in a sprint before work. Perhaps you will write during your lunch break or at night before bed. Whenever you decide to sprint, add your writing time to your planner and treat it like an appointment that you can’t break.

Also, have a “by any means necessary” attitude toward your writing sprint. So even if your routine is wrecked by something unexpected, commit to getting in your sprint anyway. The beauty of sprints is that they are brief, so it’s easy to squeeze them into any part of your day.

Plan where you will write too. But again, be flexible. You can aim for writing at your favorite coffee shop but if you must write in the bathroom while hiding from your kids, that works too.

Go into each writing sprint with a goal. Maybe you want to write a certain number of words toward an article or essay. Perhaps you want to complete a scene in your novel or play. Or maybe you simply want to write as much as you can in response to a particular prompt.

Writing Sprints with Your Writing Buddies

Along with having a time, place, and plan, having a partner can make writing sprints even better. Your accountability partner can check in to make sure you did your sprint when you said you would or even write with you. Better yet, you can gather with a group of writing buddies via Zoom to write. That’s what we do each week in the See Jane Write Collective.

In the See Jane Write Collective, you also can choose to join an accountability small group. Many of our groups meet outside of our official weekly meetings to have their own writing sprints.

Enrollment for the Collective is open now through Wednesday, April 3. Learn more here.