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Linda Sue Park’s #12minutes writing routine for first drafts

To those who never have problems writing the first drafts of their novels, you can skip this post. For others like me who sometimes find it a challenge (especially during the past couple of years) getting that first draft down, I highly recommend Linda Sue Park’s 12-minute Pomodoro routine. I learned about this during one of Linda Sue’s conference workshops at an SCBWI conference, with Emma Dryden. In a nutshell:

Set a timer for 12 minutes. Any sort of timer will do. I use Focus Time on my iPhone while I write on my Mac or iPad. I’ve just started using Be Focused Pro – Focus Timer on my desktop Mac. On very bad days, I set the timer for a shorter interval. On good days, I’ll set the timer for longer.

Write until your timer dings. Linda Sue suggests purposely writing FAST and BADLY during this time. “Pedal to metal, no distractions….it’s only 12 minutes, after all!” I found the “badly” part liberating because I tend to want to revise as I write. Giving myself permission to write badly, to NOT give into the impulse to re-read and re-write, was key for me. This is not a draft I would show anyone, of course, but gives me something to work with when I start revising.

At the end of the 12 minutes, if you feel things are going well, hit restart on your timer and do another 12 minutes.

Repeat previous step. Sometimes I’ll do this several times in a row before taking a break. Sometimes I’ll get so into the flow that I’ll forget about hitting start again and just keep writing. Other days, I’ll only be able to manage a single session — but at least (as Linda Sue points out in her Twitter thread, see below) this helps keep my story at the front of my mind. The important thing is to…

Do this EVERY DAY.

Thanks to Linda Sue for permission to summarize this in a blog post! You can see her Twitter thread below. And if you organize conferences, I highly recommend booking Linda Sue Park for your in-person event! You can find out more about LSP and her conference speaking on her website.