It takes me about three-and-a-half to four weeks to write the first draft of a full-length novel, and that’s writing anywhere between two to four hours a day. How I do that is really simple. I use the Pomodoro Technique.
Pomodoro means that you do only one thing for 25 minutes (in this case writing), with 5 minute breaks in-between.
Here’s three tips for making it work.
Have a plan
For me, I’m most productive in a pomodoro when I know exactly where I’m at in my draft. I don’t always write my scenes in order, but if I have an idea of what’s happened before the scene I’m writing and what will happen after, I can get more words on the page.
Do not edit
It defeats the purpose if you’re slowing down to judge and censor your writing. Anything goes during a pomodoro. You can decide what to chuck and what to keep after it’s finished.
Honor the pomodoro
It can be tempting to keep going when the 25-minute timer goes off, but I’ve found that it’s better to drop the pen (or stop typing) as soon as the clock runs out—even if I’m mid-sentence. The whole point of the pomodoro is to work in short, focused, energized bursts. If I keep writing after the clock’s stopped—especially at the pace established during the pomodoro—I’m bound to burn out. Besides, stopping and giving myself a 5-minute break allows me stop and assess if I like the direction the scene is headed in or if I want to make adjustments.
Keep in mind, if you’re writing at full speed for 25 minutes without stopping, you’ll probably have to do some editing afterward—but hey. You can pomodoro that as well.
I’m interested to know if you try this technique and if it works for you. If you use it, let us know how it goes below.