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Novel by Pomodoro

In 2002, I was awarded the fall writing residency at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida, to work on my novel. I had plans to finish a rough draft of the novel, or at least a good portion of it, while at the Kerouac House.

That didn’t exactly happen.

It’s 2013, and I have at best 20-30 pages of “the novel,” and that includes different versions of the plotline, setting, main characters, etc. In other words: not much.

However, in the past three years I’ve been reading a lot. Not fiction, but books about business and productivity. Brian Tracy, Peter Drucker, David Allen, Asian Efficiency, and a bunch of others. Most recently, I’m a devoted reader of Leo Babauta‘s blog Zen Habits. Leo is directly responsible for my now daily habit of flossing my teeth. In one of his posts on how to establish new habits, he recommended flossing one tooth a day. So I did that. Now I have a rock-solid habit of flossing; in fact, if I get lazy and skip flossing, I end up getting out of bed and flossing anyway, because I can’t stand not flossing.

Anyway, I was watching an interview on Good Life Project with Karen Salmansohn about how she made it as a writer, and she talked about applying the skills she had as a marketing VP at a successful company to the process of writing a book. And then I watched the Good Life Project interview with Leo Babauta in which he talked about going all in when he quit smoking, and told all his friends about it and committed 100% to his goal.

And then I thought about how big of a difference the Pomodoro Technique has made in my work life the past several months, and I realized that the solution to Writing the Book was right there in front of me.

So here’s the deal: I’m writing this book. And I’m doing it in full view of anyone who wants to watch. I have very simple rules:

  1. I must write one sentence every single day, which I will post online (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+).
  2. On Saturdays, I must do at least one pomodoro (25-minute time block) of writing. Not thinking, not planning, not outlining, not researching, not trimming my fingernails (which always becomes of the utmost importance when I sit down to write). Just writing. And then I’ll publish some or all of that writing on the blog (with a link pushed to the aforementioned social media).
  3. Interact with readers who are supporting me once a week, on Saturdays.
  4. Everything I write has to go into the first draft. No revising, no disassembly or reassembly or sanding or gluing, until I have a complete draft.

That’s it.

I want to apply Kent Beck‘s instruction (for software developers) to “make it run, then make it right, then make it fast” to the process of writing a novel. In my case, “write a draft, then write a draft that makes sense, then write a draft that someone wants to read.” Not nearly as pithy, but it’ll do the trick. (There are other Agile Writers out there already connecting these two worlds in interesting ways.)

If you want to join my tribe and help me write this novel, then participate with me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I’ve turned off comments on this blog (in fact, I’m using Leo Babauta’s elegantly simple WordPress theme), and I’ll focus on engaging with folks via social media.

P.S. The first excerpt is available here.

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