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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Write A Novel with The Pomodoro Technique

Nothing kills writing a novel like procrastination. Even if you love the writing part as much as I do, something somewhere along the way will give you a snag. Maybe you hate editing. Maybe chapter thirteen scares you into being superstitious because you can’t get it right. Maybe your eyes glaze over searching for adverbs you don’t need, or maybe you have a hard time getting over yourself and connecting with people on social media.

Effective productivity is essential if you want to succeed at self-publishing, especially on a repeated or extended basis. You need to know how much time different steps take you, how long you can work without needing a break, and how much work is too much work.

We’ve all been there, and if you’re tired of a never-ending battle to get things done instead of finding new ways to distract yourself, it’s time to get strategic.

The Pomodoro Technique

One way to get the most out of your time is by working in short, focused bursts with small breaks in between. This strategy, commonly known as the Pomodoro Technique, comes in many different variations and is easy to customize to your needs and working styles.

Here’s a quick overview of how it works:

  1. Decide what you want to accomplish in your Pomodoro unit.

  2. Set a timer.

  3. Get cracking!

  4. Take a small, five-minute break in between sessions.

  5. If you’re working for multiple hours at a time, remember to take a longer break every two hours to recharge.

The basic principle is to work in small, intensive chunks, and take guilt-free breaks at regular intervals. Depending on your task, you might decide on longer or shorter sessions. While I typically break my work into fifteen or 30-minute sessions instead of the standard 25-minute Pomodoro unit, I sometimes shift to working in 45-minute increments with 15-minute breaks in between for more intensive jobs.

Many writers also choose to work on one task over multiple periods. You might spend three periods editing a WIP but then only one on searching for a strong cover artist or design, or checking up on your sales stats.

Since the Pomodoro Technique works by time increments instead of tasks, it allows for as much or as little time as needed to accomplish a job. That means that instead of typing one full chapter every two days, you could commit to typing for two hours every day, working with the same dedication but at the same time not rushing your work as you might for a quota. That’s a great way to relieve stress while giving yourself more.

Writing and Publishing with Pomodoro

As I mentioned earlier, the Pomodoro Technique allows you to change it according to your needs and works effectively through any number of tasks. Wherever you are in your novelling journey, you can boost your productivity by learning to spend your time more intentionally.

If you have a hard time writing at all because of your otherwise insane life, try carving two 25-minute blocks into your day. During those blocks, focus on writing and only writing. Don’t stop to check social media or look at your phone. Just write.

If writing is a large part of your life already and you find yourself juggling several WIP’s, a website, and a series of regular promotions, you might look into dividing your time differently according to what you need.

Here’s my schedule for a day dedicated to one of my pen names:

I typically work four hours in a day, represented by four circles, with small breaks every half hour. I find this is the most I can commit without feeling overwhelmed or falling too far behind in my day schedule. For this day last fall, I wanted to focus on drafting a WIP but also revitalize my pseudonym’s social media accounts, search for potential covers, and email my list about a promotion.

I split my day to alternate between writing and everything else, allowing for a pendulum swing in my work so I could stay energized throughout. Because I knew in advance everything I wanted to work on or complete over the course of the day, I could work confidently without worrying that I would forget something or need to pile on more tasks than I’d bargained completing.

You might use a similar tactic. For example, if you were writing one book and laying out another, and if you decided to work for two hours in the afternoon, your schedule could turn into something like this:

Pomodoro 1: Write.

Five-minute break.

Pomodoro 2: Write some more.

Five-minute break.

Pomodoro 3: Tackle your layout.

Five-minute break.

Pomodoro 4: Write an awesome email to your readers, sharing your latest progress about your upcoming release.

Celebrate! You’ve completed two hours of incredibly productive work.

Wouldn’t that make you feel accomplished? This method might not be for everyone, especially if you get too easily distracted during breaks--but it can work wonders if you have trouble pacing your work in general.

What is the best way to harness time for productivity? What hacks have you found that help you make the most of a crazy schedule? Please let me know in the comments below or join my Facebook group for further discussion.


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