By Ryan Ng
Local writers are gathering each week at the Historic Joy Kogawa House in Marpole to write using a technique named after a plastic tomato timer.
Invented in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo while he was a university student, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method. Cirillo’s method has the user spend 25 minutes at a time of undivided attention on a task. An Italian, Cirillo named the method after his timer.
Ann-Marie Metten, an editor who facilitates the meet-up for writers called Shut Up & Write!, said the Wednesday night event at the historic home helps writers get their work done.
“Before I was a disciplined editor, I used to procrastinate profoundly,” Metten said. “But then I learned, break it into smaller pieces. It’s just 25 minutes, and that gets you going.”
All types of writers find the technique helpful
Alison Brierley, a short story writer who works nearby and spends her free time writing, said she goes to the weekly event because it’s a good place to focus. “It motivates me because I know that it will happen once a week,” Brierley said. “It’s just nice to have a place to go with a dedicated time and space for something that I really enjoy.”
Anita Miettunen, who writes novels and picture books, finds the group to be supportive. “A combination of the technique and the location encourages us to focus,” she said.
Kathryn Lee, who spends her time at the meet-up editing her young adult novel, said the technique is effective because she was worried about her back problems and being in an unnatural position for too long.
“I could sit there for two hours and write, but I don’t think that’s healthy mentally or physically,” Lee said. “[Pomodoro Technique] gives me a chance to get up and stretch.”
Cindy Hu, who was working on a draft for a screenplay for animation, said, “Knowing someone else is doing the same thing and having a project to work on, it’s really encouraging.” She said she keeps this idea in mind as she writes on her own.
For more on this story, listen to Ann-Marie Metten talk about the Pomodoro Technique.