Thursday, November 29, 2012

Little Bribes

How do you trick yourself into getting your words done? Because we all do that, right? I don't believe there's a writer out there who doesn't sit down each day with a frisson or soupcon or smidge or enormous steaming cauldron of dread, convinced this is the day when the magic ends, the inspiration runs dry.

But you either make yourself do it or you don't.

Lots of us choose the latter route, sometimes for years. It's been a while since I discussed the six-year (!!!) dry spell I had, when I did more whining than writing. But yeah, that happened.

Eventually we figure out how to force ourselves to roll that boulder up the hill, and I'm convinced most of us use little bribes. Some of you may know I'm a big fan of 45/15s (so simple - you write for 45 solid minutes and then you have 15 minutes to do whatever you want) because they have a built-in reward. But I have scores of others.

Lunch is a big one. I'm so lunch-motivated, it's pathetic. I'll do just about anything for a handful of Fritos. But if I tell myself it's 1500 words before lunch, well, then it's 1500. I don't cheat. I'm a bitch of a boss.

Lying on the floor with Dog is good (or, in the summer when the kids are home, lying on the floor with Junior, who's always up for it). I've also convinced myself that it's good for you. After all, it unrolls that spine that's been all bent while you've been working.

Getting the mail, seeing what's on offer at, looking at Jonathan Hayes' photos (especially the private collection ones!), and texting Nicole Peeler when she is in the middle of a lecture are all treats.

But you need something bigger for finishing up for the day. I mean, every time you finish your words, (or your editing, if that's where you're at) - that's a huge victory, right? You proved you were a real author for another day, and that's - wow, that's so big I can't think of the right word for it. It's everything.

I'm sure you have your own idea of what's called for. I imagine TR Pearson popping a top on a Pabst, sitting on the porch and throwing pork rinds at the hound, for instance. I imagine Elizabeth George doing a little yoga and listening to Ted talks podcasts. Whatever floats one's boat.

Here are a few of my favorites:
  • going to Home Depot and putting paint chips in my purse for that shoplift-y thrill
  • going to Sephora and spraying a dozen different perfumes all over myself
  • eating dinner at a dive in Chinatown while reading a book
  • walking to the top of Mountainview cemetery at sunset and watch the city turn on its sparkle
  • ...and, of course, that perennial favorite - a Grand Avenue nail shop

Lordy do I ever need a manicure

Would love to know what you all do to get through the words, especially if it's an idea I can steal...


This Blonde's Life said...

Brave of you to post those nails! :D I am not a writer but I reward myself with a few pages of reading at work after I complete my tasks for the morning.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Ugh, I know, those nails are horrible, right? The black paint doesn't help (i'm painting a screen in my living room) and the spongebob is covering up the festering kitchen wound i got over the weekend. I'm really falling apart! need serious intervention!

Anonymous said...

For me, the daily reward is straightforward. I'm a morning writer, so I work it this way: I don't get my second cup of coffee until I'm 400 words in (out of my daily 1000), and I don't get to do ANYTHING until I've done the full thousand. The whole world beckons: trip to the gym, walk with the dog, matinee movie - but I'm a prisoner until I hit my word count. (At which point I stop, practically in the middle of a sentence, to get the hell out.)

The big-picture reward is even better: every 15,000 words, I get a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Phish Phood, if you please.

Nicole Peeler said...

I love your middle-of-lecture texts! Especially when I've just pointed out something is a phallic symbol and I think "HOW DID SHE KNOW??"

Anita said...

I also lie on the floor...I like to find a spot in the sun. So there's that. Also, food is big with me. I usually plan the whole thing out: At so-and-so time, you will eat blank, if you have written continuously, without interruption (I'm revising, so word count doesn't work at moment). Anyway, LOVE BRIBES.

GunDiva said...

Sadly, I had never thought of bribes. You're about 29 days late in posting this to help me for NaNoWriMo.

I love the lie on the floor one, just thinking about it makes my back feel better.

Thanks for the tips, maybe I'll try them out and be more productive.