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?