So, I took this writing intensive and I frankly didn’t even know what I had signed up for. I wasn’t prepared and had not brought a computer. But I did have pen and a notebook so all was not lost.
Linda Sue Park was one of the leaders of the workshop, and aside from being a successful author, she is a realist, a pragmatist who understands that a main roadblock preventing us from our creative endeavors is the tasks of life itself. The creative process gets relegated to last priority, and when one does have, say, an hour of free time, half that time may be used to give the brain a rest from life. So what can one accomplish in the half-hour remaining?
The answer? A pomodoro, or in English, a tomato.
Yes, you should be confused by now. To explain, the Pomodoro writing technique was created by a student named Francesco Cirillo who set a tomato-shaped timer to its maximum of 25 minutes to perform a task. After time was up, he took a break, and then set another 25' to complete the next task.
From experience, Linda also realized that perhaps half of the remaining half-hour would be whittled away with checking e-mail, texting, and shopping on Amazon (again, the brain rest thing, it's no joke). Now with merely 15 minutes left to DO something, she halved the pomodoro, thus limiting the task to 12 minute intervals, and affectionately named this modified version a “writing sprint.”
To put this in practice, she gave us a writing prompt to start us off, like “Once upon a time there was a what?” Your writing toward this prompt does not have to be the book on which you’re currently working. It could be about something entirely different, such as re-imagining another scenario for Harry Potter. Set the timer, go for 12, take a stretch. Oh, the thing about these sprints is they don't even have to be good English nor complete sentences!
The next 12’ could be a continuation of what you began, or, you can start with a new prompt, like writing the difference between the internal versus the external quest of a character in your book. The main point of these sprints is to condition you to write when you can. Blocking out time daily to get your creative work done is excellent advice, but also ideal advice. We human beings get into funks, and sometimes just can’t.
Now, let's imagine that you have 12 minutes. Set yourself up for success with, as Linda puts it, “a tiny task that is too hard to fail.” Go ahead, try it. And for kicks, buy a Pomodoro timer!