So what have I done about this problem? Avoidance has been my answer. I’ve worked on anything else I could find – other books, my website, articles for magazines - but spent little actual time on this specific project. I gave myself a deadline and know I want to complete the book, as it will be a very impressive and helpful tool for writers, but I’m having trouble doing the work.
This is a classic case of writers block.
Then, out of the blue, I remembered the Pomodoro Technique!
The Pomodoro timer is a well-known productivity tool that uses intervals of work followed by short breaks to increase output. Pomodoro is an Italian word for tomato sauce. That’s where the clever vegetable logo comes from. I assume the correlation because you set a timer when making sauce from scratch, and not opening a jar to put in the microwave.
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do, I told myself. I’ll set a short-term goal to just sit down at my computer for twenty-five minutes and be happy with whatever I get done. Which surely would be more than I’ve been accomplishing. So, after putting my butt in the chair, which most writers will say is the most important step in writing, I set the timer and began working. I found myself making immediate strides in my work. I find that knowing there’s a finish line motivates you to start.
I had all but forgotten the timer was running as I typed away, until I was brought back to the real world by the buzzing of the alarm. I was amazed it had already been nearly a half hour. I was in the zone though, so I turned off the timer and went back to my page. While this goes against the rules of the Pomodoro Technique I wanted to continue my momentum. Two hours later I was again jarred from my writing as my stomach started grumbling and I noticed it was dark outside.
This is an example of how to beat writers block, just sit down and work.
Anyone with a typical hourly or salary position doesn’t wait for motivation to strike before starting their shift. They get ready and leave for their job so they can arrive at a predefined time before working the minimum number of hours. The same method should be followed for your writing. Approach it as a job, just one that you really enjoy.
So the next time you are faced with a blank page and an unmotivated soul, try setting the timer for just a few minutes and see what happens. You may end up writing forever.