Breaks Between Writing Sessions

What do you do for breaks between writing sessions? Get up from my desk and walk away. What I do beyond that doesn’t matter, but I cannot stay sitting at my laptop checking email or Twitter or doing something that keeps me in the same spot.

My routine isn’t exactly the pomodoro technique, but it’s similar. I do 45 minutes writing, 15 minutes off. It’s based on research done in Finland regarding classroom instruction. Americans try to apply this as “45 minutes is the perfect length for a class”, missing the point. They then cram things into back-to-back 45-minute blocks. It’s the 15 minutes that adds the value.

In addition to stretching my legs, getting the blood circulating, grabbing more coffee and water, and going to the bathroom, your brain needs a chance to process. It’s been beneficial to me to ponder what I just did, or what I’m going to do next. Sometimes the benefit is in not thinking about the work at all, and letting your brain wander.

Then when  go back to work, I don’t feel like I’m forcing myself. It’s not a chore. I’m a little refreshed and ready for another session.

Breaks Between Writing Sessions

This works most of the time. It helps me to mitigate my depression, anxiety, and executive dysfunction. I’m less likely to go down a rabbithole of stray thoughts if I break things up. There’s a reduced instance of getting distracted or bored. 45 minutes allows me enough time to get into a flow, and I don’t want to stop. I make myself, and that makes me want to dive back into the work after the break. It gives the breaks some meaning, too, because I recognize that it’s not a waste of time. It lets me focus better when I am at the keyboard.


The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

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