Pomodoros & growing a forest to avoid OCD

So, I’ve been absent from my blog this week. Its NaNoWriMo time and that means I am using every free second of the day to add to my word count (target 50,000 by end of November) rather than writing blog posts!

It’s been a while since I did a weekend coffee share. So grab your favourite beverage, hot or cold and let’s chat about writing, growing trees and OCD!

I must admit, I have made the most of the excitement of this first week and have exceeded my word count target of 11670 by 6778 words! That means that I have those in my word bank in case I’m not so productive next week, or if I need to do real things, like living! Danbo has been helping me track my progress.


Re-defining Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

In his book “No Plot, No Problem” Chris Baty writes that the word count feature on writing software makes us OCD, except that he terms it Obsessive Counting Disorder!

I have Obsessive Counting Disorder.
I know that feeling of constantly checking my word count to see how close I am to my daily target.
And it irritates me. Why can’t I just get lost in the writing??
Sometimes I think I have the attention span of a gnat.

As Chris suggests its actually better to structure writing around blocks of time rather than obsessing about the word count. The word count can then be the reward at the end of each writing session. I quite like the Pomodoro Technique which I’ve used for academic writing, where I write for 25 minutes without glancing at my phone or the word count! Then take a 5-minute break. And so on. It can be more complex if needed and there are six steps in the original technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes)
  3. Work on the task
  4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1

Growing a forest

As you can imagine there are a number of apps that work with this idea. My favourite is one called Forest, which my son introduced me to earlier this year. Forest has been designed to keep me productive and not wabbing (my own made-up word that defines any procrastinating type behaviour!) on my phone. You set a time that you wish to work and plant a seed, and it will gradually grow into a tree as you work. But, if I leave the app to respond to a text message, WhatsApp etc, the tree will die and I will have to plant a new seed. I earn coins for every tree that grows without interruption which gives me access to different type of trees.


I love trees.
The idea of planting a virtual forest whilst I write is appealing.
And, best of all the organisation behind the app partners with a real-tree-planting organisation, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees by allowing me to donate 2500 of the coins I earn to planing a real tree.

I must admit, I haven’t had to use it this much this week for NaNo, because I’ve been really motivated. But as we head into the second week, I can feel my enthusiasm and energies flagging.

I will need to find ways to keep focus.
Growing my own forest sounds cool.

See you next week.

Debbie blog sign off 2018

Other NaNoWriMo posts:


3 thoughts on “Pomodoros & growing a forest to avoid OCD

  1. Pradeep says:

    Distractions are a major problem of this modern age. The Forest app sounds good.
    I have a to-do list; but the problem is I forget to even a have look at that list!!! I have tried some reminder apps that have alarms etc., but it doesn’t always work since the alarm goes off when I can’t take up the next task; and I forget all about it.
    Now I am off all such stuff. I fix a time for each task. Like say 30 minutes to read a book. I stop after 30 mins and get on to the next task. I take up tasks according to how important that is. Seems to be working, though not very perfectly.
    — Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com


  2. Pingback: Sloooowing down…

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post, please leave me a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.