My Favourite Pomodoro Technique Videos

My word for the year in my writing life for 2022 is focus. 2020 and 2021 were definitely years that I struggled to focus.

Struggled so much.

And I don’t think I was the only person struggling.

Focus has always been difficult for me as an autistic but the last few years haven’t done much to help.

In an effort to manage better, i’ve begun using the Pomodoro technique once again. It’s helped me in the past. This time though, I’m using YouTube videos instead of just using a timer.

The Pomodoro Technique is essentially where you work for a certain period of time then take a break for a bit. And repeat. I usually go for 15-30 minutes then take a 5 minute break.

More about the PT here: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique

The ones I’ve been using are technically ‘study with me’ videos. But they work great for writing as well. I’ve also been trying to make sure I get up and stretch during the break time. I’m terrible at sitting for long periods without moving around.

My favourite channel for videos is: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheSherryFormula

This is the video in particular I’ve been using this past week for writing:

2021 in Review

In 2020, I decided my word for my writing in 2021 would be have fun.

2019 and 2020 were such rough years that I hoped to try to have fun with my writing.

And for the most of the  year, my brain went:

It wasn’t until I started moving into planning my NaNoWriMo novel that I finally began to enjoy myself.

In any case, I thought it might be fun to do a review of what I’d hoped to accomplish this year.

What did I hope to write/accomplish in 2021?

  • Motts book 3 and 4
  • Podcast book 3 and maybe 4
  • Start book one of a super secret project

What have I managed by December 2021?

  • Podcast 3.
  • Motts 3.
  • And I should finish wrapping up Motts 4 by the end of the year. (I’m writing this in advance lol.)

Over all? Given we are still in a global pandemic (and how badly I did in 2020)?

I’m pleased I did far better than I imagined.

How about 2022? What do I hope to achieve next year?

  • Motts book 5
  • Book 1 in a new series
  • *insert super secret project*

How about you? How did you manage in 2022? And what are you hoping to do next year?

NaNoWriMo 2021. A failure?

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I participated in NaNoWriMo this year—as I have just about every year since around 2013. Some NaNo are more successful than others. And I know writing a 50k novel in a month isn’t for everyone.

To be completely honest, it isn’t always for me either.

Up until 2019, I’d generally done fairly well with NaNoWriMo.

2019 threw a lot of curveballs at my husband and me. It was a rough year. And I remember going into 2020 thinking that I hoped it would be a better year. Shall we all laugh at my poor ‘sweet summer child’ self?  Better to laugh than cry, I suppose.

2019, 2020, and now 2021.

All three years that I suppose have technically been a NaNo failure. I haven’t hit the 50k goal. I got closer this year than I did the past two, so that’s something.

The difference this year is I feel better about what I accomplished.  I went into November with the hopes of hitting 30k. I’d have been thrilled with 40k and stunned if I hit the 50k.  I was about 1k short of 30k so I consider that a win.

Listen, if you wrote anything during a globally traumatic event, I think you deserve a medal. It is incredibly difficult to accomplish creative endeavours with so much pulling at our minds. So I’m celebrating my 29k words.

It’s 29k that I didn’t have at the beginning of November. It’s over halfway through a fun cozy mystery that I am thoroughly enjoying writing. And it’s taken less time than my last WIP, which took over four months to write.

Maybe the biggest lesson for me through the last two years is to give myself space and time.

Also, celebrate even the smallest wins.

And when all else fails, there’s always chocolate.

I’m just saying.

How about you? Did you take part in NaNo this year?

My Favourite Austen Adaptations

What’s the best Jane Austen movie adaptation? If you’re a fan, you probably have many thoughts on this question. I know I do.

I thought I’d share my favourites per book.

Pride & Prejudice – I’ve seen so many adaptations (I’m not counting the modern takes in this–just the more close ones.) My favourite is probably the Colin Firth version. He’s glorious as Darcy. And I love so many of the secondary characters.

Though, Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of Mr Bennett was magnificent.

Persuasion – This is my favourite Jane Austen book. The only one I re-read periodically. As much as I love Rupert Penry-Jones in the 2007 one, the earlier version with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root win my heart. They’re brilliant. The subtlety of their pain, angst, and romance is palpable.

Emma: Probably my least favourite overall of Jane Austen’s works that I’ve read/seen, I have to say the version with Romola Garai is my favourite. I didn’t enjoy the more recent one. I felt they made Emma completely unlikeable.

She’s supposed to be a bit silly, impetuous, but likeably well-meaning.

Sense & Sensibility: I’ve watched three adaptations. While I love the Emma Thompson version (especially because Alan Rickman was magical,) I prefer the more recent version from 2007. I’m not sure why, but it just made me happy.

I’ve no thoughts on Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, or Sandition. I haven’t seen any of the adaptations. Actually, I take that back, I think I’ve seen one of Mansfield Park that I didn’t enjoy.

How about you? What Austen adaptations do you enjoy?

Writing the villain…

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

….was a tricky endeavour.

I won’t spoil anything but writing the villain in Pierced Peony gave me nightmares. Mostly because as always, I worried about making the villain a caricature. I prefer even the not so good characters to feel like real people.

For better or worse, I want my characters to feel like people you could meet in real life.

The scariest villains, in my opinion, are ones who seem like real people. Someone who could live next door to you—but hopefully doesn’t because, you know. My neighbour the murderer wouldn’t be the best surprise, would it?

I mean, in a book in might, not necessarily in my day to day life.

As with any good mystery, Motts’s journey to finding the villain in Pierced Peony isn’t straightforward. There were surprises for her (and for myself.) Overall though, I’m pleased with the result.

My Favourite Scene in Pierced Peony

Photo by Laker on Pexels.com

The ‘redacted for spoilers’ scene in the fishery warehouse is probably one of my all-time favourite moments to write for Motts so far.

It was also my least favourite scene to write, mostly because of how difficult it was to get right.

Motts is a unique character.  It’s not always easy to get her voice perfect in the first draft. And as an autistic character, I work extra hard to ensure she’s authentically herself.

As an autistic author, I definitely put all of my heart and soul into my autistic characters.

The ‘redacted’ scene had to show danger, fear, and panic. It was critical to write from the perspective of an autistic. Our experiences can often be quite different from neurotypicals from what I’ve seen.

By the final draft of Pierced Peony, I felt as if I’d done the fishery scene justice. I’d shown Motts’s experience as well as I could on paper. It felt visceral to me and I hope to everyone else who reads it.

Writing is Hard

Every novel has moments within that were incredibly difficult to get perfect. Maybe it’s the scene itself. Or, perhaps the words aren’t flowing well. I wanted to share three from Pierced Peony that I found especially hard.

The first is the doll scene. I won’t give too many details to avoid spoilers. But, you’ll know the doll scene when you get to it.

This one was hard because I wanted the reader to have an almost visceral reaction to it. The difficult part was make sure I didn’t go overboard. There was a delicate line between creepy and caricature.

I wanted the reader to turn the page and be able to almost feel like they’d been in the room with Motts.

Second? The freezer scene. Again…spoilers. This one was difficult because writing dangerous moments don’t always come naturally to me. Banter is something I find easy.

Danger? Not so much. The freezer scene was written…deleted…written…deleted a number of times. I did finally get the vibe I wanted, though.

The final scene that I struggled with? The ending. I won’t give anything away. But I knew how I wanted Pierced Peony to conclude and it was incredibly important to do it justice.

And hopefully, I got it just right.