Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carrot, carrot, carrot, and absolutely no stick

I'm trying a new strategy to help me meet word count goals. In the first place, I'm making my goals small and not quite immediate.

In the past, I've chosen large, far away goals:

Me: Brain, produce 15,000 words by the end of this month.
Brain: I'll do it tomorrow ... tomorrow ... tomorrow ... There are only two days left in the month! I can't 15,000 words! I'm a failure! Feed me chocolate to soothe my lousy self image!

Or daily goals:

Me: Brain, write 500 words every day this week!
Brain: I'm too tired tonight, I'll catch up tomorrow ... I can't catch up! I'm a failure! Feed me chocolate to replace my shattered sense of self worth!

So instead of either of these, on Monday I'll set a goal of something like 3,000 words by Saturday.This eliminates room for procrastination and is much less overwhelming, but gives me more wiggle room than a daily goal.

More importantly, I'm trying out a new reward system. I've tried rewards in the past with limited to no success. But I think it's because I chose the wrong kind of reward. It would go something like this:

Me: Brain! Produce 1,000 words before we go to bed, and we will eat a piece of that chocolate that's in the refrigerator!
Brain: If we ate a piece of chocolate now, it would inspire me!
6 pieces of chocolate later ...
Brain: I give up! I'm going to bed! I'm a lousy slacker AND I'm fat!

So my new rewards must meet the following criteria:

1. NOT something I already have (chocolate already in the fridge is not a good reward)
2. NOT something I normally buy or do (take a nap is not a good reward)
3. NOT something I actually need (new gym socks are not good rewards)
4. NOT guilt producing (too expensive or too unhealthy are not good rewards)
5. IS something that feels indulgent or luxurious

I started off with bang, awarding myself for meeting my Valentines' Day word goal with this book of culinary awesomeness:

Admittedly, if I hadn't had the help of a huge Borders coupon and a little Valentines money from the parents, I wouldn't have been able to get it without violating condition #4.

But the point is, that my coupon expired on February 14, and even though I felt tired and lackadaisical and did NOT want to push myself through that last 600 words, I really, really wanted this book, so I made myself do it. And it felt great.

(I won't say anymore about the book right now, since it will probably be the subject of a future review. But I do have to announce that it includes punch-out meat magnets. MEAT MAGNETS!!!! How bizarre and wonderful is that? I suppose vegetarianism would dampen the thrill ...)

At any rate, I will keep you all posted on how the new strategy works out. And now for some minor counting:

Fantasy WIP: 37,780
Pounds left to lose before I enter the heart healthy zone: 3.4 (Eep of happiness!)

A final note:

If you haven't indulged in any Beatrix Potter lately, get thee to Project Gutenberg! I recommend The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, which is slightly gruesome, tongue-in-cheek, and, like all of Potter's work, utterly charming.


  1. Yay heart healthy zone!!!! Also, as far as word counts go, I free write when I can't think of anything or feel unmotivated. Sometimes it produces useful things, sometimes it just feels good to be moving your fingers.

  2. I think buying a book is a great reward! I love having a book that I'm really sucked into, hen I won't let myself read it until I've met my writing/revising goal for the day.

    I think I might plan a trip to Blue willow this weekend if I meet my goal for the week.