Hello and Welcome.
Today I wanted to talk to you about a challenge which I recently took part in, hosted by the lovely Sarra Cannon at Heartbreathings blog and YouTube.
The Who and The What?
If you haven’t heard of Sarra then you are missing out. Sarra is an amazing author who is not only one of the nicest people but shares tips, tricks and her journey with fellow writers and fans of her very successful books. Sarra is the master of creating cliff hangers and has written a fair few fantasy series, such as The Shadow Demons Saga, Eternal Sorrow’s Series and The Witch’s Key to name a few. In fact on her book YouTube channel, she is about to read The Witch’s Door live as she writes it. You can find out more about Sarra and her books on her website or via her YouTube channels Sarra Cannon which is dedicated to her books and Heartbreathings which is writer based.
The challenge which I took part in was available to everyone, it was free and there were public lives on her channel every night. The idea was that for an entire week you worked through a workbook which Sarra created and write at specific times of day for sepcific lengths. The purpose? To find your sweet spot.
All writers know that they are productive at certain times of the day but how many actually put time into researching this to see if that is actually the case? I know I hadn’t. I always work in sprints and tend to always stick to 15 minute sprints with a 5 minute break. I assumed that mornings would be the better time for me as it is when I have the most energy. Until recently and having to home school my daughter I had never tried any other time but now I needed to as my mornings were already spoken for.
The challenge lasted for 5 days and then on the 6th (Saturday) there was what is called a double down day in her Facebook group. Double down days happen on the first Saturday of every month and the aim is to double you usual daily wordcount. (On the 3rd weekend of the month is a virtual retreat as well).
How Did It Go?
Lets breakdown how it went shall we.
Day 1: Early Riser
Write for 3 morning sprints before 10am. Length: 10 minutes each with a 5 minute break between.
- Sprint 1: 10 minutes – 7.30am – 319 words
- Sprint 2: 10 minutes – 7.45am – 299 words
- Sprint 3: 10 minutes – 8am – 339 words
- Total sprint time: 30 Minutes
- Total word count: 957
Day 2: Afternoon Stretch
Write at least 2 afternoon sprints between lunch and dinner. Length: 25 minutes each with a 10 minute break
- Sprint 1: 25 minutes – 2.30pm – 826 words
- Sprint 2: 25 minutes – 3.05pm – 844 words
- Total sprint time: 50 minutes
- Total word count: 1670
Day 3: Night Owl
Write at least 3 evening sprints before bedtime. Length: 15 minutes each with 5 minute breaks between
- Sprint 1: 15 minutes – 22.03pm – 519 words
- Sprint 2: 15 minutes – 22.23pm – 530 words
- Sprint 3: 15 minutes – 22.43pm – 512 words
- Total sprint time: 45 minutes
- Total words: 1561
Day 4: Your Choice
Chose a time of day you wish to explore and a length of sprint you have not tried before.
- Sprint 1: 20 minutes – 1pm – 551 words
- Sprint 2: 20 minutes – 1.30pm – 647 words
- Total sprint time: 40 minutes
- Total words: 1198
Before moving onto Day 5 we had to do some calculations. Using the word count from each day plus the full sprint time for each day we were to work out our words per minute average to ascertain which one actually worked best. Once we did this we had to look back over out little journal entry for each day to see how we felt working at that time each day, specifically any distractions we faced, energy levels etc.
My data showed that 15 minute sprints on and evening were more productive that any other time or length. However, I still thought I knew best so chose mornings for my day 5.
Day 5: Sprint Boss
Test your ideal writing time and sprint time.
- Sprint 1: 15 minutes – 8.01am – 389 words
- Sprint 2: 15 minutes – 8.21am – 495 words
- Sprint 3: 15 minutes – 8.42am – 472 words
- Total sprint time: 45 minutes
- Total words: 1356
What I learnt
As it turned out, mornings are really not good for me. At least not while I have home schooling to contend with. Now with this confirmed I could go fourth and test out the late night sprints.
During double down day I tested out sprints throughout the day at various times. My goal was 3000 words, doubling my daily average. I managed to write 3234 words, using various sprint times of 10/15 minutes variously throughout the day. This only happened because it was a Saturday and no school.
My total for the week stood at a great amount and I am really happy with how this challenge went. It taught me a lot about the times I chose to write and what works best, I really focused on how I felt at the times in the challenge and how that made me feel over all. Mornings I learnt are too stressful, afternoons my energy has dipped too low. Evenings, which I had always just dismissed are perfect.
Going forward I will be writing more on an evening and once lockdown has been lifted and my daughter is back at school I will be trying out this challenge again. I love writing in sprints. The hyper focus really gives me time to get the words out without distracting myself as I do when I free write. If you want to try this challenge yourself you can sign up to Sarra’s newsletter and get access to her resource library which contains the workbook and other fantastic resources, and sprint along with us using the YouTube videos which were saved from the live shows.
Thanks for reading