And how can a writing sprint app help hold you accountable?
Writing is hard. Damn hard. So many people want to do it, but so many people fire up their word processors only to navigate away to Twitter or Facebook. I get it. Even writing a blog post can be overly demanding. This is where discipline comes in.
Discipline is the process by which you force yourself to do something until it becomes a habit. Discipline and habit create motivation. Motivation, in turn, translates to excitement. It's a flywheel, but you have to get that flywheel moving. That's what writing sprints can do for you.
I first heard of writing sprints from the screenwriter John August.
He was not the first to implement this idea, but he was the highest-profile person I knew of (through Twitter) doing it consistently. It also happened to coincide with the time when I was starting my MFA in Creative Writing.
Like many things requiring discipline, writing becomes easier when you do it in short bursts. When you know there is an ending point approaching on the horizon, keeping yourself focused is not as difficult as if you sat down for an open-ended writing session. Not everyone can be Hemmingway, locked away writing for 5-6 hours a day. Give yourself a shorter sprint, and you're more likely to actually progress your writing.
Starting a writing sprint is easy. Decide how long you want to write for, set a timer, and go. But what if you want more than that? What if you want to track your progress, track how often you are conducting your sprints, and what if you want to share the results?
I built Write/Sprint to handle these things. Nothing more, nothing less. Like my writing, I kept Write/Sprint minimal. This tends to resonate with writers. Austin Wiggins, an early user who runs a writing group said:
I've been looking for an app like it, to be honest. But a lot of the other apps in similar style have a bunch of bells and whistles that I just didn't need
I tried to avoid the bells and whistles because it is in my nature to avoid them, but also because I am new to developing iOS apps. Anything I could avoid, I did avoid. Fortunately, that made for a better product.
Write/Sprint allows you to set a timer, then it fires off an alert when that timer is up. You can then enter your word count to see how much you did during your sprint. And, you can even share the results.
Writing sprints have helped me significantly with staying disciplined with my writing, and I think they can help you too. If you do decide to start a writing sprint, especially if you choose to use my app, tag me on Twitter. I want to hear about it!
Write/Sprint is available for iOS on the App Store today for just $0.99.