Writing Sprints and Thinking Marathons: A New Approach to Progress and Productivity

In a creative field like writing, what defines productivity and progress? Is it how many words you’ve written that day? Is it how many projects you’ve finished? How long you write for? A lot of us are juggling families and other work with our writing pursuits which means that our schedules are not always our own to control. How can we define progress when productivity might be sporadic?

I’m a big believer in creative scheduling. I do what I can when I can and sometimes that means I can have a few weeks where I can work to a consistent output schedule, 2000 or 3000 words a day, other times that means I’m lucky to get even 100 words out on the page in a blinding hurry. This also means I need to be flexible in what I define as writing progress and productivity.

It’s these days I try to use the Writing Sprint/Thinking Marathon approach to productivity and progress.

Writing Sprints and Thinking Marathons_ A New Approach to Progress and Productivity PIN

What is A Writing Sprint/Thinking Marathon?

Basically, the Writing Sprint/Thinking Marathon is a little bit of writing and a huge load of thinking. This process is a cornerstone of my productivity. I might not get as many words down on the page on these days, but I often feel like I make more overall progress in working out how everything goes together and working out the finer points of a project.

These are the days when I have the opportunity to get into the deeper levels of brainstorming and ideas, simply because I’ve allocated more time to thinking. And it’s time spent doing other things too – the never ending housework, going for a walk with my kid and dogs, driving – these are all opportunities to let my mind wander and take a thinking marathon. It’s where I gather ideas for the next time I’ve got a few minutes I can sit down and madly bash out some words which might not be until the next day.

The Thinking Marathon

How a thinking marathon works will vary from writer to writer and even from project to project for the same writer. Starting on this approach to productivity will take some fine tuning.

You might like to take notes during the thinking marathons to record those lightbulb moments or just let the ideas wash around you for the day. You might like to keep bringing your thoughts back to a specific project or problem or just think broadly and look for inspiration as it happens.

The Writing Sprint

When it comes to the writing sprint, it’s largely the same. Write. Write lots, write fast. There’s no time to procrastinate, there’s barely any time to think. Just write. You can use your next thinking marathon to work out how you’re going to use what you’ve just written or how it might need to be edited. Just write. Write. Write.

The Balance

For creative work, the time spent thinking is just as important as the time spent actually creating. You are, after all, creating ideas. It’s important though not to get trapped in the belief that thinking alone is creative work. We need to do the actual writing to make the actual progress and actually be productive. How that productivity gets defined however, can be open to your own interpretation.

Kate Krake
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Kate Krake

Kate Krake writes speculative fiction and non-fiction. She is the author of the urban fantasy series Guessing Tales. Kate blogs about popular culture, health, wellness and creative writing. She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, daughter and two beagles. Find out more on www.katekrake.com.
Kate Krake
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