Today, we have so many things to distract us from writing, and technology is one of them. Fifty years ago, writers didn’t have the strong allure of the internet to go flocking to when they wanted to push back their writing time. But the internet has now grown to the point where it may even be beneficial to our writing! (But only thanks to lovely, genius software engineers.)
Ever read Fahrenheit 451? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit’s author, was a pretty disciplined man. Why? Because he wrote this famed novel with haste, in 30 minute spurts on a typewriter he paid 10 cents to rent out for just a half hour. He moved in to the basement of UCLA, where he had found this typing station, with a bag of dimes – thrusting them in as the clock ticked madly – and, with this limited time, he furiously churned out the draft of this popular, classic novel. Time and money – what an amazing motivator!
I was introduced to this story and another interesting tidbit via Sarah Wilson’s blog. As it turns out, Bradbury’s writing process was the early “prototype” of a technique created in the 80’s called the Pomodoro Technique. Here is their official website.
This technique, named after those nifty little tomato shaped kitchen timers (“pomodoro” meaning “tomato” in Italian) is a time-management method and a method in self discipline.
What you do is simple:
- Set a timer to 25-30 minutes – If you don’t have a spiffy little tomato timer, you can use one of these online timers listed on the official Pomodoro website. (I like the simple focusbooster app where you can turn on the incessant ticking if that prods you into working!)
- Move those fingers and write, write, write – You’re Ray Bradbury and your time is money! Your typewriter is ticking away and you have to fit as much of your future bestselling novel, article, or manifesto into this 30 minutes as you can. Don’t check your messages, don’t get on WordPress, Facebook, anything. This is your appointed time to write. My advice? Do not edit.
- Break time! – Your 25-30 minutes are up. Give yourself a nice 5 minute break. (focusbooster times this for you too, which is lovely) Get some sun, limber up, grab a quick snack, surf the web, check your email. It’s your free time to do whatever and you’ve earned it.
- Get back in the groove, go another round – You were in queue to use the typewriter and it’s finally your turn to give it another go! Shove that dime in (turn your timer back on) and go another 25-30 minutes. Get the bulk of that article done now while you have the chance. Go, go, go!
Do this process just one more time. If you still have words seeping from your fingers and want to keep typing, you now have yourself an hour break! Catch some lunch, you writing speed demon, you’ve earned it.
If you’re done writing, that’s great! Save your draft and revel in the word-countage you cooked up in such a short amount of time.
(And you don’t have to use this just for writing. Try it out for any chore or task you need to accomplish!)
If this process is enough to get you into gear, give yourself a pat, but if you still find yourself having trouble, might I suggest a bit more… wicked writing tool as an addition?
I’m talking about Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab. Have no self-discipline? This evil invention invites (or is it “threatens”?) you to write… or die! Well, it’s not that evil, but it does claim to “put the ‘prod’ in productivity”. It is an online application based on operant conditioning, in which you choose your “punishment” for not typing after a certain amount of time. Set your word goal, choose your consequence, your grace period (forgiving, strict, or evil), and hit “Write!”
- Gentle mode gives you a pleasant little reminder that you’ve stopped typing, and tells you to continue. (It’s for your own good!)
- Normal mode works best when your speakers are on full volume. If you stop, after some time, it plays a terrible song. Sometimes I get “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”! It quite literally scares you into writing more, and prevents you from stopping so you’ll save yourself from the ear-wrenching wickedness. (Now I’m not sure what else it plays because I get scared into working very easily by normal mode, but if you’re really disobedient and think you need a better punishment, try…)
- Kamikaze mode. It is exactly what it sounds like. If you stop writing, your words will literally delete themselves. Terrible! Don’t let it happen. And don’t go back to edit, folks. It’ll hurt you in the long run.
This is my absolute favorite online writing tool. It’s even more thrilling to try and write in a quiet library. There’s a desktop version you can purchse for $10 if you really like it.
The first time I tried this medley of productivity, I did some stream writing, and ended up with about 5500 words. I was poked and prodded to keep going, and ended up writing about topics from Kidz Bop, to my boyfriend, to dance music, to the topic of judgment, and more. I even came up with some new painting ideas and a few future plans for my blog.
The draft of this post was also written with these three tools, and I have to say, this is quite literally the fastest I’ve ever written a post. Drafting without editing is key. After your thoughts are all down, the rest of the process just zooms by.
I hope that those of you who were looking for a new productivity tool, those who get bitten by the procrastination bug, or those who just need a new way to go about writing can find some use from these three tools.
As for me, I will never write the normal way ever again! I can only cower in fear imagining Dr. Wicked’s maniacal laugh as he implements his upcoming “electric shock” mode on all those with stiff and unmoving fingers.