Sparks: Jennifer Egan, Pomodoro Technique, Roseanne Barr

Just a few things that have been inspiring and sparking me lately, giving me a bit of lift as I work through the last bit of novel for this major revision. (Aiming for this Thursday! I am so close with this pass! I can feel it!) Some of it is writerly inspiration, some of it is productivity geeking-out, and some is just good old-fashioned feminist inspiration and funny ferocity. Happy mid-May, lovelies!


I freaking love Jennifer Egan — what a smart, elegant writer! I love her ambition, flinty intelligence, her willingness to try all kinds of things in her work. I also love that she wrote about my hometown once. This interview was great in giving a little window into what motivated her to become a writer, and the journey she took to do it. There’s all kinds of beautifully mundane detail — apartments she wrote in, what she ate while she was struggling, all kinds of things that color memory. It’s strangely comforting to always remember that everyone starts somewhere, even a Pulitzer Prize winner!


I’m a bit of a productivity geek; my Virgo rising really takes to personal organizers, time management and other beautifully nerdy pursuits. It’s partly necessity, of course, because I juggle a lot of stuff, but it’s partly a weird love of life experiments. I like seeing how little adjustments can make big impacts. (Or not, as often the case may be!) I was never a super-fan of the Getting Things Done system that everyone on the Internet seems to love; I’ve realized that making extensive lists just makes me feel absolutely anxious. (Let me qualify; I do make them in a project sense, but not in an everyday To-Do list. In fact, I stopped keeping a daily To-Do list because it was only freaking me out so much.) Recently I discovered the “Pomodoro technique” to doing stuff. It’s kind of weird to explain; it’s when you do tasks in 25-minute windows, or “pomodoros,” which is the Italian word for tomato. (So cute!) After each pomodoro, you take a 5-minute break. After three or four pomodoros, you take a more substantive 15-20 minute break. There’s all kinds of rationale and reasoning for this, but it’s really that simple. And for some reason, it works! There’s something about the 25-minute segment that really works for me. I think it’s because it helps you break up your day’s work in chunks (I found myself giving myself mini-goals for each pomodoro, like, “Work on the massacre scene for this pomodoro”) and it builds in breaks instead of letting you plow through till you’re tired. It’s great! I really recommend doing it. I feel like my writing time is so much for effective now because of the little pomodoros! Plus, you get to think “pomodoro” all the time, which is just beyond cute.


Before Tina Fey, there was Roseanne Barr! For anyone who’s ever loved ferocious, funny women, this essay is for you. She’s a handful, of course, but I admire her balls and her fiery spirit. It takes a lot of guts to go up against the TV industry, studio executives and the whole power structure of Hollywood, so kudos to her for doing it.

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