February Writing Update (And The Pomodoro Technique)

HELLO! This is my sticker update (1 sticker = 1k words) for February:

stickerupdateA wee bit slowed down in February  (from 60k in January down to 32k) because, well, I was so tired after finishing The Falconer 2 (which you can see on the calendar was turned in February 7). After that, it was hard for me to stay on track because in order to make deadline for The Falconer 2, I not only had to write fast, I had to make sure that what I was writing was up to a standard I was proud to share with my editors. It was emotionally taxing and exhausting and recovering from that took more than just a couple of days of sleep. I felt a bit like I had run out of words, and that I had forgotten how to put sentences together. So I rested.

The rest of the month are dissertation words. I’m really determined to finish most, if not all, of my dissertation by mid-March. As you can see at the end of the month, I was pretty consistent with my word count. I am referring to this as Operation: Rip Off the Band-Aid. The point of OROBA (which in my head sounds something like “Aruba,” a place I associate with “holiday” and “fun”, which are incidentally things I would like to have after working on this horrid project for almost 5 years) is to finish this goddamn thing POSTHASTE so I can have a life. A life, of course, being a foreign concept for me since I’ve actually never taken a break from school (I’m not kidding) and the idea of waking up one day and not having schoolwork of some kind hanging over my head sounds like the best thing ever.

Anyway. My writing strategy for OROBA includes heavy use of the Pomodoro Technique. For the uninitiated, the Pomodoro Technique is meant to keep you focused and on task while writing, so you’re not off procrastinating on Twitter, joking with your friends about zombies when you should be finishing your assignment (thereby prolonging your mental anguish because words, in fact, don’t write themselves no matter how much you want them to!).

The PT is great because it acknowledges that the natural human attention span is crap and we are absolutely terrible at sitting down and working for overly long periods of time (and if there’s someone out there disagreeing with this and saying, “Oh but I can, I so can!” that’s cool, and the rest of us envy you). So the technique functions like so: 20-25 minute intervals of balls out work, followed by 3-5 minute breaks. After 4 of these work intervals, you take a longer break — 30 minutes to discuss zombies on Twitter with your friends — and then it’s back to work.

Sure, it might sound like it requires a lot of discipline to do, but let me just say: I am like the least disciplined person I know when it comes to writing. But a structured writing environment where you have designated work intervals and breaks that you can look forward to actually works. It’s great for output. I set the timer on my phone to 25 minutes and go for it, and then I set the timer again for breaks and it dings when my break is done.

And just so I have an end to look forward to when I can stop writing and catch up on episodes of Arrow to admire Stephen Amell’s workout scenes, I’m limiting my wordcount to 2k words a day. So I’m not overly taxing my brain, and 2k each day will give me 62k words for the month of March, which is actually more than I need to finish my dissertation. So if I have a few tired days where I can’t write, I’m still done, done, done with this thing by the end of the month.

SO! Back to OROBA for me.

xx Elizabeth May