Month: April 2019

Mandatory Honesty…

…for twenty-five minutes at a time

My colleagues have made compelling arguments that writers need to simply write. This is, admittedly, hardly a revolutionary position – the problem of “butt in chair” is well-known in writing and in all creative endeavors. The fact that we’re still able to express new perspectives on this problem speaks not only to Monique and Jeff’s curiosity and bravery but also to the stubborn intractability of the creative struggle.

As a writer, I’m no less filled with fear, indolence, and self-doubt, but I am perhaps more eager to believe in systemic fixes for these problems of the human heart. One such fix that’s worked for me is an approach to work known as the Pomodoro Technique®, which is at its core simply a series of commitments to focus on a single task for 25 minutes. There are more details, of course, and you’ll find a complete explanation at the website of its creator, Francisco Cirillo, but for me the brilliance and power of the approach lies in this commitment. No multitasking, no checking email or the news, no cop-outs – just do one and only one thing for a short while.

Twenty-five minutes is a magical duration: about the length of a 70’s sitcom, it’s not long enough to be scary, it’s not even a half-hour—but it is long enough to make real progress. (Just think about how much trouble Laverne & Shirley got into in one episode!) Pomodoro® further mandates a 5-minute break at the end of the work session, which is about enough time to reflect on how much fun that was, do some stretches, get some coffee, and let your fingers and brain relax from the swirl of creation. (Speaking of which, hang on, time for my break.)

The mandatory breaks are just as important as the work periods, as they give you the endurance to complete a series of four work sessions, at which point you take a thirty-minute break. During this longer break, there’s time to look back on what you’ve just accomplished and be amazed – it’s a positive feedback loop that not only feels great but also charges you up for the next round of four sessions.

There is one final requirement, though, an ingredient without which I’d have nothing but unchecked boxes on a post-it note: honesty. You must honestly commit to the singular focus, and hold that focus through discomfort, doubt, and distraction. You must have the self-awareness to see when you’re straying from it (like I just did, wanting to stop composing and search for the image I’d like to have two paragraphs up), and the discipline to get back on track. And then, when you’re done, you must honestly give yourself the credit you deserve for successfully engaging with the perennial and intractable problem of human communication, one bite-size chunk at a time.

Check out his website, give it a try, and let us know in the comments how it’s working for you.

tell-tailors.com is not affiliated with, associated with, or endorsed by the Pomodoro Technique® or Francesco Cirillo


Write-ins: 23 April & 2 May

Drop-in gatherings for no-excuse writing.

Join us for a 90-minute stretch of focused writing in the company of familiar faces and perhaps a nosh or beverage.

We’ll keep the first hour dedicated to pens on paper, so bring your notebook/laptop and whatever writing project is on your front burner. Not working on anything specific right now? No problem. We’ll have a few prompts and writing ideas to get you rolling on something new.

For those who wish to share your work or your writing process, let’s discuss! We’ll lift the silence for the last half hour.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019
10:30 a.m. – noon
Break Caffe Espresso Bar
595 East Main St., Grass Valley, Calif.

Thursday, 2 May 2019
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
City Council
233 Broad St., Nevada City, Calif.

Write-ins: 10 & 17 April

Drop-in gatherings for no-excuse writing.

Join us for a 90-minute stretch of focused writing in the company of familiar faces and perhaps a nosh or beverage.

We’ll keep the first hour dedicated to pens on paper, so bring your notebook/laptop and whatever writing project is on your front burner. Not working on anything specific right now? No problem. We’ll have a few prompts and writing ideas to get you rolling on something new.

For those who wish to share your work or your writing process, let’s discuss! We’ll lift the silence for the last half hour.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Brew Bakers
209 W Main St., Grass Valley, Calif.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
City Council
233 Broad St., Nevada City, Calif.

April Words about Town






Literary goings on in and around Nevada County this month:

Nevada County Reads & Writes

Our Community Story

Monday, April 8, 5:00–6:30 pm
Madelyn Helling Library
980 Helling Way
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Join local StoryCorps participants as they share their experiences recording interviews with people who changed their lives.

Poetry

Words

Friday, April 5, 6:00–9:00 pm
Osborn Woods Gallery
Miners Foundry
325 Spring Street
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Thirteen artists celebrate poetry month with live music, food, and wine bar.

Word of Mouth

Sunday, April 7, 6:00 pm
The Stone House
107 Sacramento Street
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Poetry and spoken word open mic night.

JournalWild

Thursday, April 11, 5:00–7:00 pm
Nevada City Winery
321 Spring Street
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Join poet Susan Wooldridge for a poetry writing workshop.

Youth Poetry

Saturday, April 13, 12:00–2:00 pm
BriarPatch Food Coop
290 Sierra College Drive
Grass Valley, Calif. 95945

Community youth poetry reading and slam with KVMR.

Five Women Poets

Wednesday, April 17, 5:00–7:00 pm
Nevada City Winery
321 Spring Street
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Five poets celebrate their work.

Open Mic

Thursday, April 11, 5:00–7:00 pm
Word After Word Books
10118 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, Calif. 96161

Celebrate with Sierra Poetry Festival participants with music, poetry, and prose. Local poet Karen Terrey hosts.

Poetry Crashers

Thursday, April 25, 7:00–9:00 pm
103 Argall Way
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Come listen to this eclectic group perform accessible poetry.

Intersections

Friday, April 26, 3:00–4:30 pm
Nevada City Winery
321 Spring Street
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Join four poets as they read celebrated works.

2019 Sierra Poetry Festival

Saturday, April 27, 6:30 pm
Sierra College, Grass Valley campus
250 Sierra College Drive
Grass Valley, Calif. 95945

The third annual Sierra Poetry Festival features local, national, and international poets and performers.

Creative Writing

Breath and Shadow Creative Writing

Saturday, April 20, 1:30–2:45 pm
Truckee Library
10031 Levon Avenue
Truckee, Calif. 96161

Free creative writing workshop for all ages.

Drop-in Creative Writing

Wednesdays, 3:00 – 4:00 pm
ej gallery
408 Broad Street
Nevada City, Calif. 95959

Local poet and literary editor Iven Lourie hosts creative writing sessions inspired by art.

Going to any events? Let us know!
Have more writerly announcements to share? Please do!

Write-ins: 4 & 6 April

Drop-in gatherings for no-excuse writing.

Join us for a 90-minute stretch of focused writing in the company of familiar faces and perhaps a nosh or beverage.

We’ll keep the first hour dedicated to pens on paper, so bring your notebook/laptop and whatever writing project is on your front burner. Not working on anything specific right now? No problem. We’ll have a few prompts and writing ideas to get you rolling on something new.

For those who wish to share your work or your writing process, let’s discuss! We’ll lift the silence for the last half hour.

Thursday, 4 April 2019
10:30 – noon
Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli
231 Colfax Ave., Grass Valley, Calif.

Saturday, 6 April 2019
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
City Council
233 Broad St., Nevada City, Calif.

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