How to write 5000 words an hour with writer sprints

I’m not a fast writer. And I’m not a pantser. I need to outline first and no exactly what happens in the story. But once I have that part, the problem becomes motivating myself to sit down and fill in the outline, consistently. 

I usually feel drained after writing for 15 minutes, and if I can do a couple thousand words a day, I’m happy. Except – I need to be writing faster, because I have too many projects to complete and I want to be earning more with my fiction.

So I got together with a friend and built a platform writers can use to race against other writers. It’s simple to use and adds a social aspect to writing (which can otherwise be profoundly isolating). 

The point of a writing sprint is to set a timer for 15 minutes and write as much as you can in a short period of time, with a focus on maximizing word count. You shouldn’t be editing or thinking about what happens next – you just need to keep writing as fast as you can. The challenge of finishing the first draft is usually just turning off the inner editor, letting yourself write quickly (and poorly) until you have a rough draft of what happens, which you can go back and edit and improve later. If you never make it to the end, you’ll spin your wheels re-diting the same few chapters a thousand times without finding the end to your story.

So the new website,, let’s you “join the game” and race against other writers. Your work is private and separate, but you can see other writer’s word count and speed, and it keeps track of who is “winning.”

It averages out 15 minute periods to make it fair if new people join, so they can catch up with someone who has already been writing for an hour. Currently there are no private games, but you can ask your friends to meet you in the platform at the same time.

I plan to do 3 sprints a day, for a minimum of 3000 words a day, and offering prizes for people who come and write with me. I love the community aspect of it,


ILYS – Blind writing for faster writing

The other tool I’m excited about is Ilys (“eye-less”… get it?). It limits what you can see when you type, and you’re not allowed to delete or backspace. It takes a little getting used to, but writing blind and refusing to go back and edit trains you to type more carefully and push forward with your story, without slowing down to think about things.

You could just cover up your monitor, but the Ilys software is easy to use and comes with a bunch of handy features. I actually got to meet the founder on a cruise ship recently and we discussed making a portable keyboard that would store everything you type. No screen. Totally invisible writing. I’m still looking for a manufacturer for that project but it could be coming soon.


March Writing Challenge!

I’m going to be focused on writing faster and putting out more fiction for the rest of the year, starting with Golden Thread – it already has 491 preorders and I’ve delayed the release date once already. I’ve got to get it done this month. I’m going to spending a lot of time on Come be my writing buddy (I’ll probably give a free book cover away to the virtual “winner” if I find a way to keep track).


About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me

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