Tag Archives: pomodoro

Android Apps that Writers Love

Last year, I made the switch to an Android smartphone and have been discovering the wide world of Android apps. While I still resist obtaining a full sized tablet, I find that the larger smartphone covers most of my on-the-go needs. For writing, I favor using my Alphasmart Neo as a digital typewriter combined with a paper notebook and fountain pen for rough drafting or my full-sized laptop loaded with Scrivener for editing and revising. I tend to not use my smartphone for actual writing.

This is a review of apps that I have found useful on my Android smartphone that I use for research or as a supplement to my Neo and notebooks. I did not want to make this into another “Evernote, Dropbox, or GoogleDrive” review that you see everywhere else. These are Android apps that are not commonplace, but could have a useful place in your writer’s app toolbox. I have not been asked to review the app by the developer nor do I have any financial stake in their product. These are simply my own opinions.

Rory’s Story Cubes
Also available as physical dice or as an iPad app

This app consists of 9 cubes that you roll to create combination. Use the images on the dice as the basis to form stories. There are millions of combinations. When you are stuck forming a new story, sometimes these dice can help you tickle out new ideas from your muse. Having the dice in your phone apps keeps them all in one place and able to use when ever you have a free moment.

Android Troper

I like to browse through a website known as “TV Tropes”. It is a great place to find articles about television programs and the tropes behind the storylines. In the tabbed browser you can set the app to hide spoilers, put it in “night mode” when reading in a dark area so it is not too bright. It has a great search feature too.


This is a simple mind map app that imports easily into its desktop client. The export options are somewhat limited, but I feel that its simplicity keeps you more focused on the task than on making the map pretty. Since it is free, it is not a bad little app to add to your writing app toolbox.

Habit Streak Plan

A trick I like to use in my bullet journal is to create “chains” of activity. I make a note of each day that I perform a certain habit. For instance, I have a chain for every day that I write, every day I work on the revision of my novel, and even each day that I exercise. This app allows you to do your chains on your android phone and help you build a streak of habits that make you a better writer.

What is nice about this app as opposed to using a paper notebook is that it will prompt you to report on your success each day. It also allows you to create more than one chain at once. Of all the chain building apps on android, this is the one that I like the best.

Baby Name-o-Matic

One of the more difficult tasks for me to do when writing is naming my characters. A baby naming app is perfect to help in this case. This app not only will suggest names for you, but it will tell you the meaning of those names. It has 10,000 of the most popular baby names in its database. I try to not rate the names, that way it doesn’t narrow the names choices that it gives me.

Clockwork Tomato

I’ve been a huge fan of the pomodoro time management technique and often use it to help boost my word counts. This android app helps to streamline the timing aspects, and being on your phone it makes the timer extremely portable. I can use this app at home or on the go at the coffeehouse.


While I personally do not write on my smartphone or have a tablet, the one writing app recommended by my friends that use android tablets is Write. It has a minimalist text editor interface which makes it great for taking notes, writing chapters and it imports/exports to Dropbox and Evernote among others. It has a word count feature which is necessary for Nanowrimo, and a search function for your notes. CNET calls it the “best android notepad apps for students”. If you do need a word processor for your Android Tablet, this is the one to check out.


I have covered this app once before in a post, but it is a good one and bears repeating. One of the features of Nanowrimo is the word count graph on the website that helps to motivate you to reach your goals. This is the app that will do it for you. It is a simple, free app for your Android tablet that will help you keep on track at any time of the year.

Pomodoro Technique for Writers

Tomato TimerWhen I am at home on my computer all manner of distractions keep me from writing. It one of the hazards of having a home based studio instead of going to an office to work. While I enjoy the freedom of working from home, I am also distracted by the various temptations being self-employed brings. My main distraction is social media and reading blogs and forums. I enjoy accumulating odd facts and information, it does help me with my writing, but there comes a point when it is too much of a good thing. Temptation hurts word count.

My initial training as a writer comes from Nanowrimo. There I learned of techniques to help gain focus as I write. One of my favorites is the “word sprint” where a group of writers get together, set a certain amount of time to write, and then the group focuses on the task until the timer goes off. At then end, we all compare word count. Take a short break and then repeat the process.

To simulate a “word sprint” here at home, I use what is known as the Pomodoro Technique. This technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s and is a simple concept. Write down a task, work on the task for 25 minutes without interruption, and then take a five minute break afterward to reward yourself. What I like about this technique is that I gain a log of tasks that I’ve done during the day and it allows me to see a visual progress at a glance. The term Pomodoro comes from the Italian word Pomodori which means tomatoes.

The basic steps to using the Pomodoro Technique are:

Decide on the task to be done. Write it down.
Set the Pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
Work on the task until the timer rings. Record that you completed the task with an X.
Take a short five minute break. (Time to check facebook!)
Repeat the process with a new task.
Every four pomodori, take a longer break of fifteen to thirty minutes.

The timer you use can vary. It is possible to use an old fashioned egg timer that you set for the required twenty-five minutes and leave on your desk. People that get into the technique have been known to use analog tomato shaped timers for this purpose. However, I have found that there are a number of free timer sites you can use and run in the background of your computer that work wonderfully. Below are listed a few of my favorites.

MyTomatoes – This is my favorite pomodoro timer on the net. You do need to register to use it, but it is free to use. This timer only has traditional pomodoro time units, but it allows you to write in the task you have worked on once you complete it and it has the breaks built in. As you work, it keeps a log of the tasks you have done so you can see your progress.

E.ggtimer.com – This site will allow you to do this traditional work block of time, but it also has other timers that could be interesting to use for other purposes. Such as a timer for brewing tea, a few workout timers and a custom timer that you can set to whatever time you need.

Focus Booster – This is another online timer, but they also offer a free desktop app as well. It defaults to the 25 minute Pomodoro timer blocks. I find this one to be very simple and a good one to test out the Pomodoro technique.