Ready. Set. Are you ready to race?

The National Novel Writing Month race is on, and now we’re gearing up for a mid-month word sprinting event from the mind of Urban Fantasy Author A.Y.Chao.

Scrivathon is a 24-hour word sprinting event to help fund Syria Relief. To find out more, check out the official #Scrivathon16 page, hang out with Scrivathon writers on the twitter hashtag: #Scrivathon16, or visit Syria Relief.

Want to know more? To learn about word-sprinting and how it helps and encourages writers to git-r-done, I reached out to my nightly sprinting partners: April Benedetti, Bethany Simonsen, and Erin A. Tidwell. Below are their amazing answers.

And don’t forget to check out information on their newest works-in-progress below.


How often do you do word sprints?

April Benedetti: Essentially, every time I sit down to write it is a type of ‘word sprint’.  Finding time in my busy day to get words on the page can be a struggle so I snatch the little moments as often as possible. Actual writing might not always happen; sometimes it’s revising, researching, or plotting. It is all about moving forward with my work in progress.

Bethany Simonsen: When I’m actively working on writing or revising a book, I try to get in a good focused hour sprint almost every day. I give myself permission to take a night off every now and then to recharge, but I find I’m more productive if I keep up a rhythm.

Erin A. Tidwell: During Pitchwars, I was sprinting as often as I could find someone to sprint with! It’s more fun than writing alone. In the last couple months I’ve sprinted through fresh rewrites, revisions, and even warred my way through the dreaded writing of the synopsis. For NaNoWriMo, I’ll absolutely be sprinting to hit my daily goals.


What’s the longest word sprint you’ve ever done?

April Benedetti: My longest sprints always happen during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which occurs in November. During that time, writers are trying to make a goal of 50,000 words in a month. For those that have never done it, it’s tough! But, it’s also satisfying when the month is over and you have a rough draft to work on throughout the winter months. During NaNoWriMo, I tend to sprint for a couple hours at a time and have been known to get sucked in and work for three to four hours without stopping.

Bethany Simonsen: Don’t hate me for this… Earlier this year I had a story idea that completely possessed me. It wouldn’t get out of my head. For days, it itched at my brain until I finally sat down and started writing. I wrote 11k that day, probably in two stretches. And for the next month or so I averaged 5-6k a night.

A more typical word sprint for me though is 1,000-2,000 in an hour, unless I’m in a rough spot.

Erin A. Tidwell: For timeboxed word sprints, I’ve sometimes fallen in with sprints up to an hour long, but I prefer 20-30 minutes. That’s long enough to make some real progress, but short enough to minimize how much time I can procrastinate.

When I’m first drafting, like for NaNoWriMo, I sometimes like head-to-head wordcount sprints instead. During Camp NaNoWriMo in April, I did a lot of 500-word sprints using Write Deck — a nifty little site that updates you on your partner’s progress and cuts you off when someone “wins”.

If I need motivation when I’m writing alone, Written? Kitten! is awesome. For every 100 words you write (or whatever goal you set), you get a new picture of a kitten (or puppy, or bunny).


Do you sprint alone, or always with others? 

April Benedetti: Most of my sprints are alone. My work as a 911 Operator means my schedule is often unpredictable which makes my writing time erratic. I mostly write at night but lately I’ve been working a lot of nights so I’ve been snatching moments with my morning cup of coffee. I love when my sprinter buddies are with me. Unfortunately, it’s not as often as I’d like.

Bethany Simonsen: This year is actually the first time I’ve tried sprinting with others. It’s also the first year that I’ve been active on Twitter while writing, so I’m finding the accountability of having partners to report to super useful. 😉

Erin A. Tidwell: I prefer to sprint with others. If I’m alone, I focus better if I turn up loud, thumpy music and put my laptop in Airplane mode.


What benefits do you obtain from word sprints?

April Benedetti: The biggest benefit, especially when you involve other writers to sprint with you, is the accountability. When others are tweeting you that it’s time to get your butt in the chair and get writing, it’s difficult to come up with a good reason to procrastinate. It’s the same as having a gym buddy. They are the ones that motivate you when you when you’re dragging.

Bethany Simonsen: I write better overall. Part of it is probably the autistic side of me, but if I have a routine, a set location, and I dedicate myself to avoiding distractions, I turn into an amazingly prolific writer somehow. If I try to write while I’m busy parenting my littles, I can’t get into the stream of my story enough to make headway. It takes me a good ten-fifteen minutes to fully engage my writer brain. So if I say, “I’m going to sit down (once it’s quiet!), and allow myself to write for 30+ minutes, and just write and worry about most of the editing later,” that creative side of my brain lights up. Ideas start to flow; my subconscious brain gets in on the action and I know exactly where the story needs to go without even plotting too far ahead most of the time. It’s exhilarating.

Erin A. Tidwell: I’m pretty goal-oriented and a little competitive. I’m more motivated if I’ve got a clear goal to hit. “Don’t embarrass self by failing to write words by 9:30” does it for me.


Want to know more about these lovely ladies? Click on the link for each author to check out information on the newest book their writing and how to connect.

April Benedetti (Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn)

SECRETS BELOW is an adult mystery set in the waterways of the Pacific Northwest.

After her last homicide case crumbled, Jordan Pace learned her lesson—if she wants an investigation handled properly, she needs to do it herself. But a week into her new job on the FBI’s Aquatic Homicide Team, the lone-wolf attitude gets her sidelined from an apparent accidental drowning operation.

Determined to prove she can be a team player, Jordan steps back and allows the other members to show their strengths during a routine evidence dive. She follows protocol and tries to make friends. But when they uncover a body whose elaborate disposal method points to the work of a serial killer, her need to take control is too strong. She doesn’t trust anyone else to do the job right and won’t risk another killer going free.

When not searching for the serial killer, Jordan dedicates her time to investigating her father’s disappearance—a case local law enforcement won’t take seriously. But, pursuing a clue that might tell her what happened to him instead leads to the serial killer’s dumping ground. With proof the two cases are related, Jordan finds herself torn between family and duty.

If the connection with her father’s case is divulged, FBI regulations will force her off the investigation. If she keeps the evidence a secret and tries to find her father without the help of her team, she could lose the chance to stop a serial killer.


Bethany Simonsen (Website | Twitter)

I’m working on a YA novel titled “Once Upon A Typewriter.” The main character, Emily, misses her English final and her teacher threatens to fail her. And if she fails English, she won’t graduate on time, and then the University she wants to go to (she intends to become a doctor) might yank her full-ride scholarship.

Her teacher gives her one chance to make up her grade: she challenges Emily to write a 30,000 word novella in just 2 weeks. On a typewriter.

But as she writes, the characters start talking back to her through the typewriter, suggesting changes, refusing to go where she wants them to go, and being all-around uncooperative. Emily is terrified that she’s losing her mind, just like her mother did. She somehow has to find a way to convince herself and her younger sister Aubrey that she doesn’t need to be locked away in a mental hospital, convince her characters to follow some sort of plot, and finish writing her story on time. Or there’ll be no “happily ever after” for any of them.


Erin A. Tidwell (Twitter)

It’s November, so I’m NaNoWriMo’ing up a first draft of something new:

Aliyeh is a young woman gifted with the rare ability to move Souls between bodies. Her apprenticeship finished, Aliyeh arrives at the war’s forward command post just as a devastating demon attack kills everyone in the royal family–except Prince Kadar, the sultan’s least and youngest son, who only loses most of his Soul. Trapped behind enemy lines, it’s up to Aliyeh to keep Kader sane, avoid the demons that want to devour them both, and get them both home before the war is lost.

STEALER OF SOULS is a fantasy novel set a few years after My Sister’s Soul.


Still want to read more cool stuff? Be sure to visit all the amazing Blog Hop authors:

A.Y. Chao | Gurpreet Sihat | Hoda Agharazi | Deborah Crossland Maroulis | Morgan Hazelwood | Dante Medema | Miranda Burski | Maria Guglielmo | K.J. Harrowick | Rochelle Karina | Adele Buck

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