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A tomato is a tomato is a tomato . . . unless it’s November and you’re in the middle of NaNoWriMo and you’re behind 12,096 words and look! There’s a post on Facebook about raisins! What a perfect opportunity to make an obscure reference to an old movie by saying they’re humiliated grapes!

Maybe you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, but instead have a deadline at the end of the week with edits due to your agent and wow! Check out that new video by OK Go! Umbrellas! Lots and lots of umbrellas. Not as good as the Rube Goldberg one though. Or cats. Maybe you should look at cats. Or tattoos. Or cats with tattoos.

Some of us are easily distracted. Some of us (ahem) may be the Queen of Distraction.

I know a lot of writers use different programs to shut down the internet while they’re working, but I can’t do that. When I’m writing (and even when I’m revising), I have lots of questions — questions that only Uncle Google can answer, like “What could someone make by weaving feathers?” or “Do mice have a paw preference?” I need to refer to old emails, or check the thesaurus to get just the right word. I can’t go offline. I’d distract myself by trying not to forget what it was that I needed to look up when I went back online.

So when I’m working I either need the willpower of an ascetic or a few tricks up my sleeve. Yes, you guessed it. Tricks.

In Rachel Wilson’s last post, she mentioned a technique that Mary Winn Heider taught us at our last S3Q2 & Friends retreat: the Pomodoro technique. It sounds fancy, but really the word pomodoro is simply Italian for tomato, and refers to a tomato-shaped timer used by the developer (Francesco Cirillo) of this technique.

In short, you set a timer for 25 minutes and work like the dickens without interruption until the timer goes off. Then you set the timer again for 4 minutes to clear your brain. You repeat this a few times until you have the mental capacity of a wet noodle, but loads and loads of work accomplished, and the rest of the day free to watch videos of dogs jumping through screens or to take personality tests (“What kind of cheese are you?” or “What’s your Santa’s elf name?”).

If you find yourself having trouble focusing on your work, give it a try.

For more information, check out this video: