Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged Pomodoro
Hangover Edition (10 Days to 20k, Day 2)

At 36, I'm getting old. I know there are some of you who will roll your eyes at this statement, but we all have to acknowledge that at any age, there are things we could do ten years ago that we can't do anymore.

Like stay up until 2 am, and still be a fully functioning adult the next day.

An old university friend talked me into going out last night to see an old cover band that used to play at our school regularly. We hadn't seen them in probably close to ten years and in that time it turns out we've all...well...aged. Me, her, the band. We're all a bit slower and bit a greyer.

I cut myself off at two drinks and told people it was because I can't write hungover. This is true, but even without the alcohol hangover, it was a slow day. Turns out taking the last subway home makes for a late night. Also, it turns out 'because writing' is a totally plausible excuse for just about anything when hanging out with non-writers. Writing is a mysterious craft and if you blame just about any behaviour on writing, many people will believe you.

A little mushroom toast and much coffee later, I felt up to tackling more words. I was worried about another kind of hangover though. After a very successful day yesterday, I was worried it wouldn't flow so well today. But I got myself set up. Laptop, pomodoro timer, feline critique partner. Off I went.

I wrote about an awkward brunch and found new conflict points. Martin's finally pushing back, and Seb's maybe deciding to be less of an asshole. There might be a romance in here after all.

Best part is, I'm checking off scenes on my outline one by one. I was worried that I'd overwrite the hell out of this story, but I'm becoming increasingly confident that 20,000 words really will take me to the halfway point of this story.

Live and hope.

Now, for a nap! I'm too old for this shit.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 2 Words Written Today: 3,391 Total Words Written: 7,067 Words Left: 12,933 Percent Complete: 35%

Shut Up and Write (10 Days to 20k, Day 1)

rawpixel-com-203888 About six years ago, I heard about this thing called NaNoWriMo. Apparently you wrote a 50k novel in a month? I'd dabbled in story writing as a teenager, and always felt like I had a novel in me, but had never managed to get past one messily scrawled notebook.

I decided to give it a shot. I think I googled something like "how to write a novel". Somewhere I read the famous recommendation--"Bum in Chair, Hands on Keyboard". That sounded like good advice to me. I even called the filename to my NaNo story BICHOK, which felt clever acronym and also a good way to remind myself the only way to write that many words was to show up and do it.

I wrote 50k that year. It was nowhere near a novel, was out of sequence, and generally not very good. I also lost that file shortly after in a hard drive crash.  I mourned for a while. Someday I'll rewrite it.

The thing I learned through that exercise though was that the only way the words happen is if you write them, and if you don't let yourself get distracted by going back and editing what you've already written, as an excuse for not moving forward. I know this is a controversial idea, and lots of people are successful at drafting and editing simultaneously, but I am not. Get the words out, quit whining, make them better later, that's my approach.

I christened my first day of this 20k challenge by doing exactly that. I went to my first ever Shut Up and Write. It's what it sounds like. It's a writers group only in that there are a bunch of writers in a room all writing together. No one shares. No one critiques. You don't have to talk at all if you don't want to. You just sit down, shut up, and write.

The Toronto Shut Up and Write group is on Facebook. If you're somewhere else looking for a group, try Google. The one here functions on the Pomodoro method, which I hadn't seen before. There's a timer that runs for 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break between most intervals, and a periodic 20 minute break for stretching, food, feeding the parking meter etc.

While it sounds like a pasta dish, I thought it was super effective. Twenty-five minutes doesn't feel insurmountable, and the five minute breaks are just enough to take a pause without losing your train of thought. You can find Pomodoro timers online that already have the intervals organized for you, so all you have to do is set it up and let it run. I do word sprints with online partners sometimes, but I'm always keeping half an eye on the clock while I do it, and it slows me down. A Pomodoro app means all I have to do is sit down, shut up, and write. Add eat some eggs benny, because Toronto's SUAW meets at the Glad Day Bookshop, which has an in-house kitchen and all-day brunch on the weekend, and there's no reason to leave.

Result? Over 3000 words in a little under four hours! I had visions of hitting some gigantic total that would springboard me to success in the first half of my week but, alas, I can only write about 1000 words an hour. My little fingers just don't go faster than that. So I'm going to have to put the time in every day if I want to hit that goal. 20k still 100% achievable, and I've built in a little wiggle room now, in case I've got a few days where I actually want to, you know, go out and see people while I'm off work.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 1 Words Written Today: 3,676 Total Words Written: 3,676 Words Left: 16, 324 Percent Complete: 18%