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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sprint Writer vs. Marathon Writer

When it comes to physical training, I'm a big believer in the sprint over the marathon. Sprinting increases muscle mass and is not as hard on your joints. Besides, look at the body of a marathoner vs a sprinter!

But when it comes to writing, I've always been a marathoner. In it for the long haul, taking a little bit at a time, plodding along every day whether I've felt like it or not. I enjoyed the process, and even when I had a less than stellar writing day, I always figured my ideas were just brewing and my writing would be better the next day (which it usually was). I know many sprint writers--writers that take months off at a stretch and then come back with lots of time and energy and zeal for their projects, but that has never been me.

In this last season of life, though, I've transitioned into more of a sprint writer. I could say that I've "had to," but I believe we always have choices. To be honest, I don't like it. I don't like myself as a writer this way. I feel like the people who always make excuses of why they aren't getting to the gym. Always looking to "the next big break in their lives" when they'll have time for it. And besides that, my brain just works better as a marathoner. If I have my story in my head every day, even if I only get a few hundred words down on it, at least it's still brewing. At least my mind has opportunities to find solutions to literary problems. When I come back to another "sprint" of writing, I feel so much pressure to be writing while I have this time I've set aside that I don't feel like I have the space to sit back and ponder. I write through things because I have to, but to me they feel mediocre. And worse, I don't expect more from myself the next day.

Are you a marathon or a sprint writer? I'd be interested to hear if you're a sprint writer, why it works for you.


  1. I am most definitely a sprinter, both in my athletics (I'm a swimmer) and in my writing. I started writing seriously with NaNoWriMo, so right from the start I wrote quickly. Whenever I try to write story ideas consistently for a longer period, I get bored and abort the project.

    What works for me now is a very intense period of about two weeks with back-to-back-to-back 5K days, then a couple weeks off, then a week long revision session, repeatedly.

    That's why I have 11 novels, but I'm only 18. Maybe I'll change in the future, but for now, I love riding my writing highs and letting the ideas simmer between.

  2. That's interesting. Thanks for your input, Taryn! Come to think of it, I'm a NaNo freak too, so I do engage in sprints among my marathons, I suppose!

  3. Marathon. Getting out of the blocks in a hurry scares me to death! I used to run hurdles. I know how that anticipation feels and I don't like it! I'd much rather set small writing goals and chip away at them every day for months at a time.

  4. Marathoner, for sure. I need mulling time, plus I find "the long haul" do-able rather than daunting. I sprint now and then (NaNo, but not every year), which is exhilarating and fun, but my best work seems to come from marathon-pace efforts.