Writing and the Pomodoro Method

Writing and the Pomodoro Method by R.S. Mollison-Read

The Pomodoro technique was created in the 1980’s as a method of increasing productivity. ‘Pomodoro’ is the Italian word for ‘tomato’. The technique is so called because of the popular kitchen timer, shaped as a tomato. The idea behind the pomodoro technique is to set a timer for 25 minutes, work for that period, and then when the timer is done, to take a break. By working hard for a short period of time, and then taking a break, productivity increases.

I have heard of this method many times before, but it wasn’t until I started taking this Coursera course, that I really learned of the veracity of the pomodoro method. In short, when training your brain to implement new habits, you need to have a three step process: cue, routine and reward. I also learned that the brain is most productive when it can switch between a focused mode of thinking to a more diffuse mode of thinking.

I began to use both of these principles together in my writing process, and immediately noticed a huge difference. I went from writing ~1000 words an hour, to about 1500 in one 25 minute pomodoro session – effectively tripling my productivity. Even more important than the word count, was the absolute sense of relief I felt. I wasn’t expecting to feel like a great burden had been lifted off my shoulders, but I did, and as I started analysing that feeling, I realized how much pressure I had been putting on myself. Although I wasn’t doing it consciously, I had the mindset that I had to finish a certain scene, or chapter in a set amount of time. If it wasn’t finished in that time period, I felt guilty, and unproductive. In anticipation of that feeling, I started to dread my actual writing time.

My cue is setting my timer for 25 minutes, my routine is writing for that time frame, and my reward is ten minutes of relaxation. Another important aspect of this process is that I switch from a focused mode of thinking, during my 25 minute writing period, into a diffuse mode of thinking for my ten minutes of relaxation (anything from 10 minutes of daydreaming, to washing dishes, or vacuuming!)

Do you use the pomodoro technique? What are your best writing productivity tips? Tell me in the comments below!

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3 thoughts on “Writing and the Pomodoro Method

  1. […] Writing and the Pomodoro Method / R.S. Mollison-Read […]

  2. […] you don’t know what works for you yet, then experiment! You could try the pomodoro method, or plan some brainstorming into your work day, or you could get really crazy and travel to get […]

  3. […] R.S. Mollison-Read “Writing and the Pomodoro Method” […]

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