Posted by: Jodi | January 7, 2011

Self Bribery – The Art of Getting Things Done

As writers, often there isn’t a boss standing over us to keep us on task.  We make our own schedules and work however we feel is best for us.  Some of us work best in the early hours of the morning, some late into the night.  Regardless of when we work the simple fact remains that we need to get something accomplished in that time.

This is where the subtle art of self bribery comes in.  Often it’s not enough to pat yourself on the back when the job is done. At times an extra kick of motivation is needed to help us continue to move forward.  Though it might seem childish, self bribery is a very positive way of meeting goals.  Every time a goal is met you get to treat yourself.  They don’t have to be writing goals, it works for other goals as well.

For this to work, consider these steps:

  1. Create a measureable goal that won’t add a huge strain to your life.  For example, for those writing a book it might be a certain number of words a day.  For those trying to lose weight it might be a certain number of calories or minutes of daily exercise to be reached.
  2. Identify personal “treats” that you usually wouldn’t consider buying.  These items should range in price, small items for small goals and larger items for larger goals.  For me it’s been mp3 downloads, specialty chocolate, DVD’s, and even shoes.
  3. Create milestones for either consistency or targets reached.  When you are successful for a predetermined number of days or have reached one of your targets then reward yourself!
  4. Put it in writing. The best laid plans are forgotten if they are not written.  You can be creative with this step, use a sticker chart or check boxes to track your hard work.  Not only does this help you stay on track you get added positive reinforcement to see how far you have come.
  5. Be forgiving. Some days you may not reach your goal, life happens.  Don’t let this derail your progress.  Every day is a fresh start. In the words of Marla Cilley a.k.a. “the Flylady”, “You are never behind, jump in where you are!”

I hope that this helps motivate and inspire you to keep working towards your goals.

Happy Writing!

If you have an interesting or creative way to reach your goals, let us know in the comments!

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Responses

  1. Yes, it does help motivate. I’ve been trying to keep track of how small increments add up. One blogger, Laura Best, suggested gold stars as a way of keeping track on one of her posts. I love the idea of treats 🙂

    • Nothing like a little “you did great” treat to help keep the momentum going. As writers we have a tendency to be pretty hard on ourselves, it doesn’t do us any good!

  2. O Best Beloved lets herself buy one thing from Etsy if she’s on top of her work every month (which seems like a pretty small reward, given that being on top of her work involves more hours spent doing math than I spend sleeping on a given day). I think it’s the shopping that’s the reward more than the thing itself — a guaranteed two or three hours doing nothing but drooling over dresses made from pressed vintage pop cans and photo frames carved out of Hurricane Katrina house debris.

    For my part, I know I can’t get good and drunk until after the writing’s done if I want it to be any good. Ample motivation!

    • Shopping is the best part! (You’re great to indulge any of those items entering the house.)

      As for the drinking, to each his own…

  3. I have a group of friends who like to meet for dinner of a Friday night…just an inexpensive little get together. I use these outings on a sliding scale for incentive.

    1. If I have not written a certain number of words for the week, I don’t join them which has a two-pronged effect. If I don’t write enough, I disappoint my friends and I miss out on some social interaction.

    2. If I reach the targeted chapter by the end of the month, I let my hair down with wine and a very late night on that particular Friday.

    4. When the manuscript is polished and complete (this has only ever happened a few times) a party or a night away – just a drive to the coast, nice restaurant, etc.

    5. When a novel is published (this has only happened once!), I drank lots of champagne and have planned a trip away promoting the book.

    • Sounds like terrific motivation – I’m glad to hear that so many of you already have reward systems in place. One day I hope to get to #5 as well!

  4. I need to overcome the sense of futility.

    Sounds like I need to focus on #5, eh?

    • Um, yes. Wallowing in your own puddle of misery isn’t going to get you anywhere soon. Repeat after me, “I’m good enough, strong enough, and doggonit, people like me!”

  5. Working on my novel is the reward I set for getting all the other trivia in my life completed. I think I have this backward.

    • I can always rely on my two Nancys to throw a wrench in things! If you are writing to reach a goal like publishing then having a reward system is helpful. If you are writing as the reward for finishing something else, terrific!

  6. I’m with Nancy. Writing IS the reward after all the rest is done. 🙂


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