Tag Archives: writing

Prod Your Productivity Into Shape – 3 Tools for Effective Writing

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:

  1. 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!)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!”

Your consequences?

  • 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.

I love to use the Pomodoro technique and pair the focusbooster app with Dr. Wicked’s writing lab! These are three excellent tools to place on the first shelf of your writer’s toolbox.


Some thoughts…

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.

Hopefully he’s just kidding about that one!

photo credit: (1234)

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Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

I’m one known to think too much about matters I shouldn’t burden myself with. I tend to have a lot on my mind and it becomes overwhelming!

What my boyfriend suggested to me was some stream of conscious writing. I was confused. I did this type of writing every morning for my Creative Writing class in high school and it never really helped me. But in class I realized we had a time limit and were sometimes told what to write about. So what happens when we don’t have these limits?In today’s post, I’ll be touching on:

  • What stream of consciousness writing is and how to do it!

What is it? And what is it good for?

Stream of conscious writing is a technique circled around release. Sure our mind has the capacity to think about and carry all of our problems, feelings, and thoughts, but when there comes to be too many facts and stored information, our minds are clouded and we tend to lose our ability to quickly reason through our problems.

Who is it for?

  • those who are stressed on a day-to-day basis
  • those who seem to have one problem after the other
  • those who have too much on their mind and unsolved problems
  • those who are looking for inspiration or that creative spark
  • those with writer’s block or those who are looking for some new ideas
  • those who want to improve their memory, vocabulary, and reasoning

How to stream write

What you’ll need:

  • a computer or
  • pen and paper or
  • a typewriter
  • basically something to write with – preferably one you’re fastest with!

Here’s the key: don’t limit yourself at all. The only way your mind can uncover ideas, repressed thoughts, and thousands of other possibilities is if you just let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about typos, leave them there unless it’s absolutely vital to the meaning of your writing.

Let go of any inhibitions and write. No matter how profound, no matter how sad, no matter how taboo, no matter how repressed and deep into your mind it is, no matter how shallow, seemingly pointless, unimportant, trivial, no matter anything.

Write. Write. Write. CAPITALIZE. don’t capitalize. who cares about punctuation. Show your thoughts.

Give yourself about an hour. After writing for a bit, you’ll feel refreshed and unburdened. As if the accumulated thoughts you’ve been sweeping aside for months have been lifted from your shoulders and tucked away into one place.

Now save your document or hide away your journal. If you want it to be private, save it as an email draft or rename it to something no one will suspect.

When you’re ready to write more, open up the same document and continue from where you left off. Just make sure it’s all in one place. It’s easier to go back to and reference. You’ll be surprised at the phases you go through and twists and turns you take to get to where you ended. Don’t be shocked when you realize that your stream writing is a vault of new ideas for projects and other things.

My Experience

I took my boyfriend’s advice and did a little writing of my own. Surprisingly, I found I went through a few phases.

I began by writing about what happened earlier in the day, typical journal stuff. Then it moved to a critique of a movie I had seen earlier and some thoughts on how society may have viewed that movie. (By now, I had already come up with a few ideas for future blog posts!) Then I wrote about stream of conscious writing itself, and how, after a while, my hands just flowed freely, my thoughts translated from my brain through my arm to the keys of my keyboard so fluently and uninterrupted.

Every thought somehow connected to the other like a puzzle. One thing lured my mind to the next, and soon I delved into deeper topics about my feelings towards a few friends who have caused me much repressed mental strain. I came to clear, crisp conclusions about what I should do and how I should react when certain situations arise with these friends.

These are conclusions that, unfortunately, my boyfriend has been telling me about for months! For some reason, though, I had to come to these conclusions myself, and stream of conscious writing allowed me to do that with ease (and unknowingly until afterward!).

Try it out and tell me how it goes in the comments!

photo credit: CreativeArtistry | ntxpeach68 | darkmatte
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Been a little busy, but I’m not gone! (Plus two productivity tools!)

Hey, readers! You may have noticed a small drop in the frequency of posts here at Deliciae. No need to worry, though. I’ve simply been a little busy balancing my new job and my new classes for the Spring quarter. On a good note, I have had plenty of free time at work to write down a few good ideas for future posts.

Tonight and tomorrow, I will be working out a sort of posting schedule for myself so I don’t fall behind and disappoint anyone! Tomorrow, after a long week of being on my feet, I am going to the Newport Aquarium with my brother and boyfriend. Hopefully I can get some good pictures to post up here!

I’m looking to get back into a normal post output soon enough, so check back soon! (My new Cognitive Psychology class has already given me plenty of excellent ideas for informative psychological posts.)

Speaking of a normal post output, I would like to share with you two very useful (and free!) productivity tools that help me to plan and write my posts:

  • Remember brainstorming in highschool? Have you ever had to create a “web” of ideas in order to write an essay in school? FreeMind is a mind mapping tool (of the many out there) used to organize your ideas for just about anything. Create one very broad topic and branch off into many subcategories. Dump all of your ideas and knowledge in a mindmap and organize it later! Very useful. Not only do I use it for my more in-depth posts, but I also used to use it for future plans, parties, and more.
  • Another tool which is probably more useful than the mind map is the Dark Room. Do you get distracted by all the fancy buttons and features and rulers in Windows Word? Do you get distracted by the internet, check your email, or chat with friends when you have to write that blog post or college essay? The dark room is a very minimal program, both in size and in aesthetics. It is a distraction-free, full-screen writing environment helpful to those who need to get some writing done. Sit down, crack your fingers, open Dark Room and have a productive writing power hour with this amazing and simple program.

You should check these two out or at least similar programs. Tools like these can exponentially increase your productivity in any area of your life.

Check back soon for some possible aquarium pictures and some juicy posts you’ve been promised!
Oh, and take some time,look up at the sky once in a while, and breathe in.

The Growth of a Project: More Thoughts on Blogging

nullThe more and more I write and tend to my blog, the more and more ideas pop into my head. My post drafts are piling up, and I love it! Reading other blogs is a very inspiring and powerful creative tool when facing the difficulties of writer’s block. In one conversation within the comments of this post on ZenHabits alone, I have found two new topic ideas for in-depth posts.

When blogging, you must keep a healthy balance between content and features, and you should keep a consistent flow in your postings. It’s some kind of hidden art form that is growing to be more popular as the day goes by! I’m glad to be a part of it.

If you’ve been planning to start a blog or if your mind harbors just a smidgen of blogging intent,

Go for it!

It is an excellent experience with everything to gain and nothing to lose. If you’ve been having ideas on writing a blog, any questions about beginning one, tell us about them in the comments. I’d be glad to share more specific information with you.

Right now, I’m facing the decision of focusing Deliciae on just a few things (knowledge, appreciation, and love), or letting go and blogging what comes to mind.I’ll be mulling that over for a few days!

I have a few topics lined up for the next few days. I apologize for the lack of posts yesterday as I had a terribly difficult exam to study for. Thankfully, it’s done and over with, and I can relax a bit!

photo credit: Tanakawho