You may have seen the hashtag #WriteSprint on Twitter, calling writers to join in on an hour-long dash of fingers-on-the-keys, distraction-free writing.
But what if you don’t have an hour?
Even if you only take 15 minutes, you can move your writing forward. A shorter write sprint may not have as impressive a word count, but it can still pay off dividends.
In Atomic Habits and on his blog, James Clear talks about the idea that one way to improve a skill or craft is through greater, consistent practice. He talks about the idea of improvement by subtraction, where you focus on making fewer mistakes, or looking to raise the floor of your performance level.
With writing, that could be as simple as making sure there are fewer days where you don’t write.
On those days where you look at what’s on your plate, or look at the clock and feel like there’s not enough time to really dig in, why not try?
Maybe you’ll find that 15 minutes at the keyboard leads you to want to stick around just a little bit longer to finish up the idea you just had. Or maybe when the timer goes off, you save and walk away. Either way, you did something.
Even if you don’t finish a scene or wrap up a chapter, getting the wheels turning can help you keep moving later.
In his book Making It All Work, David Allen talks about the idea of “open loops.” It’s the idea that if we start a task but don’t finish it, our brain keeps trying to drag us back and solve the problem/do the work:
“It’s as if we’ve hooked a fish that keeps pulling on the line until we reel it in or cut it loose.”-David Allen
He says that like it’s a bad thing!
When you’re trying to solve problems on a creative project, having your story churning away in the back of your mind can help prepare you for the next time you sit at the keyboard.
So don’t shrug off the idea that you “only” have 10 or 15 minutes. Get sprinting!