Monday, August 22, 2011

Writing goals and rewards

For the first time in my writing journey I listed my goals and shared them with my critique partner. In January 2011 they weren’t overly ambitious. Or so I thought. Now September is fast approaching, and I’ve finished only two of the five. One of the remaining three is critical to my success as an author.

Sometime during this past spring I derailed. I didn’t meet the most important goal on my list, my stated minimum of writing one hour every day. Final editing my first manuscript was much more time-consuming than I expected. Authors who complete two or even three novel-length stories every year amaze me.

I attached a reward to my write-an-hour-every-day goal. Each week I reached that goal I’d have a fun lunch out. Well, those have been few and far between.

In my desperation I’ve considered the opposite of a carrot (reward) and, instead, thought about the stick. Maybe I should try reverse psychology and punish myself if I don’t meet my daily writing goal. Shall I go to the gym and work out an additional hour, sweating and cursing myself? Would that motivate me? Perhaps my lack of discipline comes from a comfortable life style. Money needs are a sure motivator but I’m not ready to go broke to find out if that works for me.

My husband and I are retired, and I feel a little guilt if I don’t spend a few hours every day with him. After all, he’s the man who worked decades to make sure we’d be secure in our later years. I worked, too, but primarily part-time.

I did reward myself for diligently pursuing my query goal with manuscript #1. My husband and I went to Yosemite this past week. Our last visit was in 1996. You forget the majesty of this awe-inspiring valley until you set eyes upon it. Here is my best photograph, one I want to use on my desktop. This picture will be a daily reminder to focus on my number one task. No email or Yahoo loop checks until I write a minimum of one hour, filling pages with raw words.

I’d like to hear how you reward yourself when you reach a set goal. Does anyone use punishment or delaying a specific want as a motivator?


Jill James said...

I do reward myself for meeting a goal. I DVR my favorite programs and I can't watch until my writing is done for the day. Sometimes the programs add up on the DVR but I don't watch until I've done my writing. I must be a kid at heart, because it seems to work.

Sheila Tenold said...

Hey, I like your scheme, Jill. I watch my DVR-recorded shows during lunch. I think I'll try your plan. Thanks!

Mona Risk said...

Sheila, what a great topic. This summer I spent days and weeks without writing because life interfered. Family comes first, and writing is not my number one goal anymore. When I am determined to write and finish a book, I sit in front of my computer for hours, six to eight at least. I found out that the more I write and the easier the ideas come and the story flows. From time to time I check my emails for a break. But like you I hate to ignore my DH when my muse strikes, so I make an effort to chat with him every couple of hours.

Sheila Tenold said...

Mona, in the past I've worked six or more hours writing, sometimes until 4:00 a.m. I want to get that excitement back. I think I've been hedging a bit, perhaps it's simply laziness. Tonight I will begin, no excuses. Thanks for stopping by!

Vonnie Davis said...

When I'm working on a project, I write a minimum of six hours a day, not straight through, but with breaks to chat with hubster, play with kittie, make the bed, do laundry, cook and putz around the house. If I take a couple days off, I don't worry. I can't stand NOT to write, now that I've started, so I know I'll get back on track eventually.

Sheila Tenold said...

You have a good balance going there, Vonnie. I tend to be nothing or all. Seems like I need to rethink my style!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Good luck to you, Sheila. Don't be too hard on yourself. :)

BTW: Love the pic.

Josie said...

That's easy. I reward myself with chocolate. :)
I think I'm addicted to Hershey Kisses.

Denise Pattison said...

Great post and great photo. Yosemite is breathtakingly beautiful. So, is Tahoe. After being in Nevada, seeing Lake Tahoe and Yosemite was like getting a new lease on life. Nevada has its charms but all I could think about was the pioneers crossing that desolate wasteland and then hitting the Sierras. How they must have rejoiced to see something green again though I imagine crossing those mountains was a strain.

I haven't met my goals this year either. It irritates me that I always delay my writing to take care of other things in my life. I need to start putting writing first.

Thanks for reminding me!