It’s been an amazing winter break, full of rest and finally finding more time to do things I enjoy (reading! writing! spending way too much time browsing random Mashable articles!). But with my college semester beginning in a week and the threat of a rigid schedule looming ahead of me once more, it’s time to make a game plan for finding more time to accomplish my writing goals with less time on my hands.
Mainly, the realization I’ve come to over the past few weeks is that writing requires serious dedication. Five hundred words may not sound like much, but even that task can seem daunting on some days. Yet when I sit down and make the conscious decision to start writing, it’s amazing how much I’m able to accomplish… within the set time period I’ve allocated for myself, that is.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve finally discovered the awesome power of word sprints (I’m the last to jump on this train, I know). But for those of you who haven’t tried this yet, I can’t recommend it enough. No matter how pressed for time you are, set a timer or tell yourself that you’ll only write for ten minutes. Even if that’s all the time you can spare for the day, at least it’s something.
I have two mantras for this year: “Write at least 500 words every day” and “Write More Now!” The first is a reminder that I need to write at least a little every day this year, and the second is a reminder to write faster.
A year ago, I would’ve never agreed to the latter. I used to think word sprints couldn’t possibly produce the same quality of work as slow, “careful” writing. But once I started setting word sprints for myself, I realized all that “slow, careful writing” I was doing before was actually just me second-guessing myself on every sentence and re-writing entire paragraphs because I didn’t think they were up to par. I was stifling my inspiration instead of letting the words flow.
When I tell myself that I’ll write for just twenty minutes and then go back to whatever I was doing before (probably scrolling through Mashable again, let’s be honest), that’s when I finally close all those Google Chrome tabs and get to work. My distractions are minimized, my time is allocated for creativity, and I always write more in less time. There isn’t as much endless going back and restructuring each paragraph, but there is much more uninterrupted writing.
The trick even helps with editing. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, I’m just going to check my e-mail and respond to the last message” and then two hours later you find yourself watching random YouTube videos… not exactly the best use of editing time. Instead, now I dedicate a specific half an hour toward writing/editing and then let myself do whatever afterward. (It does help to take a break.) Then I’m ready to dive back into another half an hour word sprint session!
It’s amazing how much more writing and editing I’m able to accomplish through timed writing sessions. For those of you worried about a schedule change coming up soon or for those who are just looking for more time, I highly recommend the word sprints trick.
Let’s talk: Have any other tips for writing more with less time? I’d love to know your own. Or if you swear by word sprints as well, let me know how they’ve worked for you.