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pavlov and pomodoros.

21 June 2011

i have writing-specific ADD.  never heard of it?

According to me a reputable source, Writing-Specific ADD, or Write-SADD, occurs only when you sit down to focus on the piece of writing you have to produce.  Once you sit down to focus on said piece of writing, your attention span severely shortens, while the cavities of your brain fill with unrelated miscellany (i.e. celebrity gossip, that squirrel over there, what you should make for dinner, old episodes of project runway, etc.) that distract the writer from completing this perfectly reasonable task in a perfectly reasonable amount of time.  The writer, usually ready with the words, becomes unable to write the first sentence, instead producing inane simple sentences (and not in the cool way, either) that belong in children’s books for basic readers, ones involving the one-syllable family members dick, jane, and spot.

This condition is chronic, and seems to occur despite the writing task at hand and certainly gets worse when writer is being paid for said writing (although the condition appears regardless of monetary conditions).  Like the acronym, this condition in fact makes the patient write sad, sad pieces of writing.

This condition is contagious, and can occur in other situations where patients find themselves having to focus on anything of merit (see: Work-SADD, Design-SADD, etc.)

my current remedy to this SADD affliction is the pomodoro technique, which further proves my point that you can make anything sound much cooler if you just say it in italian.  the pomodoro technique is essentially starting a timer (the inventor’s timer was shaped like a tomato = pomodoro in italian) that you can hear (tick tick tick tick) for 25 minutes, then you get a 5 minute break.  that time frame equals one full pomodoro.

the timer helps me stay on focus, the ticking (which i thought would be annoying) helps me remember that i’m focusing, and the 25 minute parameter is long enough to get something done without being too long.  i used this when i had to hammer out my upper-level english papers, and it only failed when my 5 minute breaks turned into 5 hour marathons of project runway (how did that happen?).

i use it now to just get me through my writing work for fixer design, but it helps me to not get hung up on the leads, or the right words or structure the first time around.  i usually just need to GET SOMETHING DOWN and let it marinate for a bit before i come back for (multiple) revisions.  that’s tough for me.  i’m a one-tripper.  leaving the house? i only want to make one trip from the upstairs to the downstairs on my way out.  grocery shopping? i look like a nepalese sherpa, but i’ll be damned if i can’t haul three weeks’ worth of groceries in one over-loaded trip.  i don’t know where this obsession with only making one trip came from, but it certainly has weaseled its way into my writing.  and one perfect trip down the blue-lined notebook page the first time out, as i prattled off to my students, is antithetical to good writing.

so i’ve been pomodoroing it up around here, and it works great.

except for one thing.

the pomodoro timer i’m using (on my computer) sounds a fairly standard bell when the 25 minutes is up, but when the 5 minute break is up (which i typically just work through, actually), the alarm is a doorbell.

my apartment doesn’t have a doorbell, but how many of you think that this fact has not prevented me from looking up EVERY SINGLE TIME it rings?

yeah.  this morning already i’ve completed 5 pomodoros, and i’ve looked up at the front door expectantly five times.

pavlov’s dogs are no match for me.

i would explain who pavlov is, but i was writing this on one of my 5 minute breaks about an hour ago and i have to get back to work.  oops.

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