Monday, August 29, 2011

That Little Extra

Mothers use it with their children; teachers use it with their students; credit card companies use it with their cardholders; banks and stores use it with their customers: businesses use it with their employees.

What is it?

This month over at Bits & Bytes, the WARA members have been blogging about the struggles they have with writing.  The list is varied and includes distractions, poor time management, and poor self-discipline.  Also mentioned were writing obstacles that include family, employment and health.  Plain old procrastination is a biggie, too.  Strange, but finding ideas hasn't been mentioned.  It seems we don't have any big problems with that.  Our imaginations seem to be working just fine, so it isn't that we aren't inspired.  It's just that we don't or can't do it...for all of the reasons listed and more.

What is it that all those people and entities listed up at the top do?  They use REWARDS.  They use INCENTIVES.  And that's something that writers don't always think of using.

The writing of a novel spans quite a lot of time, from the first tiny glimmer of an idea to the finished product.  There are characters to be created, research to be done, plotting, writing, revising, polishing, and finger crossing when the final product--our baby--is sent off to an editor, agent, or contest.  The act itself should be rewarding enough, right? Well, not necessarily.

We've learned that setting goals can sometimes work well in getting us motivated and moving.  And while reaching those goals brings satisfaction, there's usually still a long road ahead.  We often choose publication as the reward for all of our hard work.  But at the end of the road there may or may not be publication.  That's something we can't control.

So what's a writer to do?  Reward ourselves along the way.  Rewards don't have to be big things.  Small things work great!  So you wrote for 10 minutes today?  Super!  Give yourself a treat.  An ice cream cone or some yummy yogurt you've been wanting to try would be perfect.  You finished a chapter?  Congratulations!  Reward yourself with a long bubble bath or an evening with a friend.  That novel is finished and has been sent to an editor or agent?  Fantastic!  Pull out that book you've been dying to read and enjoy it or spend a day or several days doing what you want to do, such as a mini vacation, if it fits in the budget!

Rewards don't have to cost money.  Just calling a friend and sharing the news that you've reached a goal can be rewarding.  And that friend may give you the incentive you need to keep going.  A quiet evening watching a movie makes a good reward and can often offer inspiration or new ideas for your story, too.

My reward for reaching the goal of a finished manuscript used to be to read the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips book.  I've forgotten to do that and am behind at least two reward books.  Maybe, if I write fast enough, I can get caught up soon!  Now that's my kind of reward!!

Any suggestions or ideas for rewards and incentives?  We can all use some fresh ones to keep us going on the road to reaching our goals, so feel free to share what works for you.

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