THOLAC–Lessons Learned Part 2

…And I’m back! Welcome to Outpost Dire, home to the shared Dire Universe of epic, grimdark fantasy, military sci-fi, thrillers, and more! Let’s dive right in.

In the last blog, I talked about lessons learned from writing the first draft of THOLAC. There’s something else I learned a little late in the writing phase of the book. Well, that’s not exactly true. I learned of this tidbit years ago, but I never incorporated it: word sprints.

When I first heard of word sprints, I didn’t give it much thought. I mean, I was a pantser, after all, and word sprints were a way of life. In fact, every novel was a word sprint. So, I just filed the information away for later. It didn’t help me then, but I continued on. Plus, to be fair, the word sprints weren’t helpful to me, at least not in terms of the story I wanted to tell. See, the exercises were of random stuff, subjects I didn’t care about at all. My thoughts were, “This won’t help me because it’s not going into the book at all, so why bother?”

I read a book recently, 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter, by Chris Fox. In that book, he talked about word sprints again. And it got me thinking, maybe this guy’s on to something. Did I do his word sprints? No. Did I do word sprints related to my own books? Yes. I did this with the plotting of Book 2 of the THOLAC series. And, you know what? I found it helpful. This is a prime example of not discarding things but merely filing them away for later use.

As I’ve touted countless times before, I’m not really a plotter at all, but I have found a nice happy-medium balance of broad stroke plotting while pantsing. With that said, in a few short sessions, I have book 2 plotted about 60-75%. I say that with such an error of margin because I don’t have all the answers, and I like it that way. I want wiggle room. I have the main characters down, though not all the details, and I’ve really fleshed out what I want to do for a minor character, an internal journey.

So, what did the word sprints do for me? Well, I’ve seen an increase in my writing speed, no doubt about it. Like Chris Fox said, word sprints are about training your mind that when you sit down to write, it’s time to turn on the creative juice. And, he’s right! So, I’ll share my progress. Not every word sprint is faster than the last—mainly due to plotting out a tricky character and unsure of what I wanted to do with him—but overall, there’s an improvement.

Overall, I went from an average of 33 words per minute (WPM) or 1,980 words per hour (WPH), to 47.5 WPM/ 2846WPH. Here are my results thus far.

Sprint:              Words              Time                WPM/WPH

1                      500                  15:00                33/1980 

2                      470                  10:30                44.76/2685

3                      344                  7:15                  47.44/2846

4                      368                  9:00                 40.88/2453

How about it? Are you going to give word sprints a try? Make sure you take a short break in between sprints. Don’t stop, don’t check your phone, just sit and write what comes for you. In fact, don’t even correct spelling and grammar, just write. Fix it after. This will train your brain to be okay with getting into the seam, even though there are mistakes present, and just writing.

That’s it for this round, short and sweet. I shall return…

If you enjoyed this content, check out my books, The Bearer of SecretsMark of the ProfaneThe Demon’s FateThe Dark Portal, and For Heathens of Heaven on Amazon. All works are available on Kindle Unlimited, eBook, and print. Reviews can be found on Goodreads and Amazon.

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