Friday, October 20, 2017

How to Write One Book A Year and Keep Your Day Job

By Ronda Simmons

Anthony Trollope did it. Can you?

Mr. Trollope was an English novelist of the Victorian era most well-known for a series of books called The Chronicles of Barsetshire. 

He wrote 47 novels in 32 years along with plays, nonfiction books, and short stories. He also worked full-time as a post office inspector. 

He was a contemporary of George Elliot and Wilkie Collins. Both authors admired Trollope, as does Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey. 

Here Is How He Did It.

Trollope wrote from five to eight o'clock every morning before breakfast. He spent a half an hour reviewing, and then he would write until it was time to leave for work. 

To maximize his effectiveness, he'd place his pocket watch on his desk and commit to writing 250 words every 15 minutes.

He blocked out all distractions, except for the ticking of his watch, thus preventing him from nibbling his pen and gazing at the wall. No writer's block. No multitasking.

Time Writing Taken to The Next Level.

A variation of Trollope's timed writing method is called the Pomodoro Technique. Created by an Italian college student, named Fracesco Cirillo, to help focus his studies. 

He used a kitchen timer and would concentrate on the task at hand for 25 minutes. One pomodoro. He would take a five minute break and begin the timer again. After four pomodori, roughly two hours of work, he would allow himself a longer break. 

Why Pomodoro? Cirillo used a tomato-shaped timer. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. Che figaga!

To use the Pomodoro method you only need a timer. During the Pomodoro, turn off all notifications. No texts. No emails. No phone calls. During the break, leave the writing space. Walk away. Move around. Stretch. Meditate.

Once you've earned a longer break, take a snack. Run your errands. Answer those neglected notifications.

Does every day need all four Pomodori? No. Today, for me, was a one Pomodoro day. That's all right. 25 minutes of focused writing time is better than a half-day traveling around the interwebs.

Give the Trollope method or the Pomodoro technique a try. Track your productivity. 

Tech tip:

The Pomodoro Technique leveled up:

The Marinara timer is a customizable app allowing for work times, rest times, and longer breaks. I average three Pomodori before I need a longer break. Your tomato mileage may vary.

Breaking Down The Sauce:

Productivity 101

The Pomodoro Technique: is it right for you?

The Pomodoro Technique - Staying Focused Throughout the Day

For more on Trollope:

Why is Trollope Trending?

Trollope's Novels


JC Lynne said...

I adore Trollope! He ranks up there with Austen for me in terms of witty, everyone gets their due, manners stories. There's also a fab television adaptation on Amazon of Dr. Thorne, one of my favorites.

I didn't realize he wrote under such restrictions. I'll be working on my Pomodori as I revamp my new writing schedule and fight kitten cuteness to up my productivity.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I bought a kitchen timer to try this out. The first time it went off, the noise sent a jolt of adrenaline through my body. The cat, who was sleeping on the windowsill near my computer, jumped straight in the air and bolted from the room. Needless to say, I need to find a timer with a gentler alarm.

I've never activated Cortana on my PC and wonder if she would work out as a timing assistant? I'll have to check into that.

Ronda Simmons said...

Patricia, give the Marinara app a try, maybe you'll find a chime that your cat likes. Try "Alien Bot Ordering Lunch."

leela_mahal said...

Very excited about the Marinara timer. I forget about the clock when I'm working, and sometimes "awaken" to the reality that two or even four hours have passed. This means I've neglected to stretch, to give my eyes a break, or to eat. (Coffee always seems close to hand, but despite what some people say, writers cannot subsist on java alone . . .) A great article, Ronda, just in time for #NaNoWriMo!

Ronda Simmons said...

Right you are, Leela Mahal, writers also need sugar, alcohol and salt, not necessarily in that order. But caffeine first, always.

Laura Mahal said...

Superb medical, I mean, writing advice, Ronda Simmons.

Thanks to your astute guidance, I am 21,714 words in on Day Eight. NaNoWriMo has taken over my life. As have cups of chai with fresh ginger, Brazilian coffee, Lamars Donuts, unlimited black olives provided by our fearless local NaNoWriMo Commander-in-Chief, and pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. (I wonder if Mr. Trollope liked pasta?)

The Scotch will sit on a shelf until I have true cause to celebrate, but an 18-year will be warranted by the end of November. When each and very NCW member who has set out to complete this 50,000-word challenge will be raising a glass of something. (Water. Water is important for those of us who live in Colorado--as are friends who inspire us to push past our limits and reach higher.)

Steven Smith said...

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Steven Smith said...

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