A Writing ‘Hour of Power’

The older I get, the more comfortable I am with the quirks of my personality and habits. I know that routines matter to me. I like to leave them behind at times, but they provide a structure that helps me to get things done.

For a few years now, I have maintained a writing routine of handwritten morning pages. For over a year, I’ve also written at least 250 words a day. This can be part of a story, a blog post, research notes – it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as I get some words down. In recent months I’ve been jotting down scraps of dreams, some of which have evolved into short stories.

When I’m not working on something specific, though, it can be difficult to pin myself to the desk. There are always competing demands for time, but I know that I always feel better after writing. Recently I read a post from author Amanda Hampson about her writing routine. She mentioned the Pomodoro technique as something she uses as part of her writing life.

I have used this technique during NaNoWriMo. The goal of writing 50,000 words in a month requires more structure and this helped me to focus for blocks of time. But I haven’t used it outside of these intense periods of activity. So I thought I’d give it a go.

Through the working week, I have been using this technique over three or four nights as an ‘hour of power’. The timer runs for 25 minutes before there is a 5-minute break. A second set completes my hour. If I have a longer stretch of time available, I can adjust the settings. Longer sessions have lengthier breaks to help with sustaining concentration.

An hour of focused activity during the working week makes a difference to me. I can do what matters along with everything else that clammers for attention. I’m often startled when the timer goes off at the end of a session. Once you get into the zone, you wonder why it took you so long to begin in the first place!

What do you do to get your writing done?

Photo: kitchen timer with a cluster of tomatoes

7 thoughts on “A Writing ‘Hour of Power’

  1. I love the picture kitchen timer and tomatoes. Thank you for the inspiring blog post. I just started a 10 week class based on Austin Kleon’s book ‘Keep Going’. The work is on routines, so I enjoyed reading about yours. I try and write 15 minutes in the morning, and I end my day with three lines about something that happened in my day. (like a Haiku)

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    1. Hello there, and I’m glad you liked the photo! I only had grape tomatoes to represent the original tomato-shaped kitchen timer which inspired the technique. Thank you for the book reference – I’ll add it to my list as it sounds great. I really like your routine, and the three lines at the end of the day sounds like a great idea. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  2. I do a fair amount of writing, mostly for my blog. As you pointed, it is very important to have a routine strong enough to make you write the minimum you have set for your personal goal. Being a little bit of a scatterbrain, I use routine to get my writing job done. Thank you for bringing up this all-important topic in the writing community!

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    1. Thank you, Peter! Your posts are always so thoughtfully prepared and presented – your routine is definitely working for you. Thank you for sharing your routine and thoughts on this matter.

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    1. Oh, I like that image of throwing mud! Whenever I get stuck I try to get at least something down, repeating the mantra that you can’t edit a blank page, but you can always edit a written one! And yes, that feeling of self-acceptance is a particularly sweet one. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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