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4 Simple Tips for Writing a Book

4 Simple Tips for Writing a Book

I’ve always wished I could write a book, but I got stuck somewhere between organizing chapters and finding an audience. I got stuck on the process instead of focusing on the first part: writing. I constantly asked questions like: “How do I start? How do I find time to write? How do I outline?”. When I couldn’t find answers that worked for my lifestyle, I gave up. Finally, I realized I needed to just sit down and start writing something—anything. Here are four simple ways I’ve made writing my first book easier.

1.  Use what you already have.

One of the easiest places to get stuck is finding a topic to write about. I thought a lightning bolt would strike me with the perfect idea, or maybe I would dream the perfect scene. I got nothing. Forced to come up with a topic while conscious, I made my journey as easy a possible by using what I already have. You can too.

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You’ll be shocked at the material you already have to pull from. You can use any of your work that hasn’t been published before, such as old college papers, journal entries, blog posts—even ideas, thoughts, or plans you have rattling around in your brain. Also, you can pull from your interests. Think about things you’ve read about, projects you’ve worked on, or even subjects you like to watch on TV. Did something come to mind? Great. Now you have a jumping off point; maybe even an opening chapter.

At this point, you can stop thinking about starting a book, and focus instead on finishing the book you’ve already started. See, easier already!

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2.  Use your time.

I can’t force myself to sit down and write for long periods of time. First, I get stressed, and then I wind up surfing the internet for cool info graphics (like this one: How Beer and Coffee Affect Your Brain). To curb my stress level, I’ve found ways to seamlessly fit writing into my life. The more I can just open up my laptop and start writing, the better. I try to write for 30 minutes a day, usually on my lunch breaks, before meetings, and after work.

You need to figure out what works best for you and then make a schedule—even if it’s a loose one like mine. Think about how you like to work. Do you like short, intense projects? Try to set aside a few small blocks of time every day. Do you like having a lot of time to mull over new ideas? Try setting aside larger blocks of time. After you figure out a loose schedule you will be able to easily integrate writing into your life.

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3.  Use your talent.

Write! Don’t let anything get in the way of writing your book. Some writers have to outline and organize their ideas before they write, but I used outlining and organizing as an excuse not to write. Now I’ve scrapped outlining, and I’m just writing. It’s not the most organized book, but I’ll clean it up during the editing phase. If you need an outline, go for it, but don’t let the outline or the organization of your book get in between you and writing.

4.  Use who you know.

Find someone who will check in on you and make sure you’re writing. Whether it’s a writing group or an accountability partner, you’ll need encouragement and support to reach your goal. In return, you can help others finish their goals. It’s a win-win.

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Finding simple ways to write is essential to the process. Don’t forget to use what you have, use your time, use your talent, and use who you know. I know you can do it. I’m with you working through the same simple steps, and this will be the year we won’t just wish we’d written a book; we will finish writing a book.

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Kelsie Fannon

Kelsie is a journalist and writer who shares about productivity and money tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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