Saturday, April 6, 2019

Top Three Follow up: A Need for Speed (KaLyn)

Laurie and I swapped April post dates in anticipation of a special guest on the 20th. Which means two posts from me in the same week, but you won't hear from me again until May.

Last April, I wrote a post on pushing past writing limits. The goal was to improve writing speed and overall productivity by applying principals imparted from two different books: Crank It Out! by C.S. Lakin and 5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. Crank It Out! examined the relationship between natural biorhythms and productivity, while 5,000 Words Per Hour focused on mindset and training your brain through words sprints and consistency.

My biggest takeaways at the time were starting by 7am, sprint exercises, and a dedicated workspace. Today, almost a year later, I’m circling back to share with you the impact of those changes over time.


During the day, when are you the most motivated and focused? Scheduling is all about writing at those times to increase your productivity.

For me, even though I don't consider myself a morning person, it means getting up early. The days that begin by 7 am average a higher word count and are consistently productive. The days that begin after 8 am average a slightly lower word count, mainly because productivity is inconsistent.


Although productivity gains are low to moderate, scheduling changes have the most immediate impact and are the easiest to implement.


The concept of writing sprints is to set a timer and write as much as you can in fifteen minutes. Doing so is intended to help a writer train their brain to ignore their inner editor when drafting and increase word count.

To be honest, I didn’t stick to sprints long (the number of sessions can be counted on one hand). My word count during sprints did increase, but it was hard to shift focus with the frequent starts and stops.

However, several years ago, I’d read an article about working in intervals to maximize productivity by leveraging the brains natural focus rhythms (if you will). The findings concluded that the human brain works best over a long period (like an eight-hour workday) when it focuses intervals in of 60-90 minutes with at least a 15 minute in between intervals. 

So, earlier this year I tried intervals instead and the results have been more than I expected. A meaningful increase in productivity and word count that, so far, continues to make gains.


Whether it's sprints or intervals, the structured pacing requires a high level of motivation but comes with the biggest gains in productivity.


Workspace is about more than having space for a home office. It's about consistency and optimizing your writing environment to minimize distractions and interruptions and maximize focus.

Some items to consider (other than location):

  • Silence, music, or background noise?
  • Brightly lit or dim?
  • Standing, exercise ball, or chair?
  • Clean, cozy, or cluttered?
  • Pen and paper, computer, or wordprocessing device (like Neo2 or Freewrite)?
  • Alone or with friends?

There are many workspace options to consider. Experiment and discover what works for you.


Workspace changes are variable, both in terms of productivity gains and ease of implementation.

There is one other activity that I haven't mentioned and it makes all the difference: prayer.

What approaches do you use to push past writing limits?


  1. Thanks for sharing your findings! Regarding intervals, did you work for the 60-90 min and then break? Or did you implement a shorter time frame? I might need to try something like this since I'm a "turtle" writer. ☺

    1. I’m a turtle writer too! It’s what started the quest. :)
      And yes. I usually do several interval cycles in a day, sometimes standing for the morning intervals. If you do try it, I’d love to hear how it works out for you!


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