A year ago I sat down to write my New Year’s Resolution – as the blogosphere is my witness – to spend a minimum of 25 minutes every day working on my book, a biography of Walter Stevenson Davidson. According to the Pomodoro Technique, 25 minutes equals 1 pomodoro. As I explained a year ago, the aim of the Pomodoro Technique is to work uninterrupted for 25 minutes, then to take a 5 minute break. Do it again, then after 4 bursts of work take a longer break. Repeat as necessary.
366 days later, I am delighted to say that the technique has worked for me. I don’t always stop after 25 minutes – in fact I often become so engrossed in my writing that I don’t stop for an hour or more – but give or take a bit, I have largely stuck to the plan. There have been some hiccups – illness, family crises or a scheduled holiday – but I am now on track to complete my book during 2015.
Better yet, I’ve discovered that self-discipline does – eventually – become a habit. Every morning now, usually at about 5 or 5:30, I make a pot of tea, feed the dog, sit down at the computer, set the timer – and write. It helps, of course, that I don’t have family obligations in the early morning and I’m naturally an early riser, but the 25-minute principle would be the same at any time of day. The secret, I think, lies in breaking the task down into manageable gobbets.
Which is where my other discovery of 2014 comes in. I’ve fallen in love!
Scrivener is a computer program designed for writers of fiction and non-fiction, essays or screenplays. It makes it easy to handle large manuscripts, and to write separate gobbets that can be shuffled around, as necessary, until you are happy with the overall structure. You can compile a final version of your manuscript in a variety of formats, including PDF, RTF and EPUB, so if all else fails, you can always self-publish your manuscript as an e-book. The program handles very large files, so it’s possible to incorporate your research into Scrivener, though I haven’t bothered to do so, having overflowing folders and filing cabinets of the stuff already.
Like most people newly in love, I don’t yet know everything about the object of my affection, but I’m enjoying exploring the possibilities over our shared early morning pots of tea.