Redeem Your Writing Time with a Pomodoro Clock

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There are many myths and superstitions about writing.  Some believe in “the Muse,” an outside force who they think inspires writers. On the other hand, there is a force that halts creativity. This superstition is called “Writer’s Block.”

Do either of these forces exist in the real world? No. They exist only in the minds of writers. Writers like these kinds of myths because they offer an excuse for not writing. It makes it convenient to forget that creativity springs from an individual’s own inner cognitive process. You can redeem your writing time with a Pomodoro Clock, which serves your God-given cognitive process.

Christian writers want to make the best use of their writing time because they serve God and a higher purpose with their writing. We want to “redeem your time” (Ephesians 5:15-16). To do that, we need to have a system in place to make efficient use of it of the time God has given us.

One of the best ways to corral time and maintain deep focus is to use the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is both a time management philosophy and a special timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato).

How to Avoid “Sit and Stare”

Many writers don’t write. They “sit and stare” and don’t put very many words on the page in a writing session. There are several ways to overcome the “sit and stare” affliction:

1. Prepare an outline before you start writing. That way, you know what comes next. Also, with an outline, you can jump around to other topics in your nonfiction book, or scenes in your fiction book, if you go dry.

2. Have writing goals. Allocate a specific time and word count for each of your writing sessions. If you have an hour available, work the entire time. Know how many words you are going to write during that session and reach that goal in the allotted time.

3. Don’t allow distractions. Don’t be tempted to check Facebook during your writing session. Don’t check your email. Turn off your cell phone. Tell others in your household that you are “in seclusion.” This last one may be difficult for some, but if it is, you may need to write at times when the house is normally quiet anyway.

The Pomodoro philosophy is that people do their best work in 25 minute segments. You decide what you need to do and set aside 25 minutes to do it. After that, you take a 3-5 minute break. Then repeat. After you do four of these sessions, you take a 15-30 minute break.

You Make Choices

Redeem your writing time with a Pomodoro clock. When you do, you make a positive decision to work for 25 minutes. That decision alone will clear your mind. You don’t allow interruptions until the session is over.

Only then do you check your Facebook page, phone messages or email. You can make that quick bathroom run. At the end of that break time, you  engage in another 25 minute session and you have the resolve to not dishonor that.

The 25 minute sessions will help your writing focus, but so will the breaks. You need breaks as long as they don’t last too long. The 3-5 minute breaks allowed by the Pomodoro Technique remind you that you need exercise or food, but don’t allow you to linger.

It’s positive to set writing goals and keep them. You may set one 25 minute writing session each day or a series of them.

Just don’t stop in the middle of one. You devalue the process, and your own productivity, when you do that. Wait until the 25 minutes is over and quit for the rest of the day, if you must, but see each 25 minutes session through to the end.

What is the downside of the Pomodoro Technique? For me, it’s that 25 minutes is usually not long enough for a writing session.

Once I am in the flow of writing, and my right brain is hitting on all cylinders, I want to stay with it. Yes, I know I need to get out of my chair more often, but I am often happy to write 3-4 hours before I take a break.

You have to decide such matters for yourself. Make a commitment to a 25 minutes writing session, or a three hour one, but stick to it, and don’t allow distractions during the session.

Get Your Tomato Here

When I started with the Pomodoro Technique, I was not aware of all the tools available. I bought a small cooking timer at the Dollar Store, and I still use it. However, there are better alternatives available online. Their major value is that they set both the writing time and the break time automatically. If you only spend $1 on a timer like I did, you must reset the timer manually for every writing session and break.

You can get free (and paid) Pomodoro timer apps at both the Google Play app store and the Apple app store. You can use an online version if you are always connected to the Internet. You can even buy a physical version of the timer at the Pomodoro site if you wish.

Develop a Pomodoro Habit

The Pomodoro Technique enables you to schedule your writing sessions into productive time slots. It helps you focus and makes it easier to say “no” to interruptions. In fact, research shows that it helps people with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s a great tool to increase both your productivity and the quality of your work.

However, don’t let the Pomodoro Technique become more “magical thinking,” like a belief in a “Muse” or something like “Writer’s Block.”  The Pomodoro Technique is just a tool that helps you develop good time management habits. Make a commitment to use it for at least a full week to give the method a fair test.


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