A Writer Confesses: I had to bribe myself to write!

I have a confession to make. Last week, I had to bribe myself to write. Here’s how the conversation between me and “writer me” went.

Me (standing in the middle of the computer/dining room): I really need to finish painting this room. (Light bulb turns on in my head. It’s dim, but it’s on.) I know. If I get my words today, I’ll paint.

Writer Me (facetiously): Oh yeah. That’ll work. Especially since you looove to paint.

Me: I know, but I really need to finish this room, and I need to finish this book.

Writer Me: Well, tying the two together isn’t going to get it done. You’re just ensuring failure.

Me: What would you suggest?

Writer Me (bouncing on her toes): Shopping.

Me: Are you kidding? One day of getting my words does not a shopping trip earn. (Notice I didn’t say a thing about painting. I’ve got my priorities straight!)

Writer Me: You want something new to wear at RWA. Get your words for the week, then you can go shopping.

Me: Hmmm.Emoticon with shopping bags

Writer Me: You know you want to.

Me: It’s a deal.

Two and a half hours later, I had my words for the day. The next day, mission accomplished, again. I did, in fact, get all my words by Friday. But then I didn’t want to go shopping. Just getting my words was accomplishment enough.  However, I figured if I didn’t use my “reward” it wouldn’t work the next time I tried to bribe myself. Yeah, I know. Quite an imagination. (Hey, I do write fiction!) So I dragged myself to the mall, and I shopped ‘til I dropped. I came home with two and a half new outfits. Two of those were for the conference. The problem was I’d only bribed myself with one outfit. Imagine the guilt. Oh, woe is me.

So I made a new deal. Get my words for the next two weeks and keep the extra one and a half outfits.  If I round up as I was taught to do in math, that’s one outfit a week. Otherwise, back to the store they would go. So far, it’s working. (Knock on wood.)

Now this may sound silly to some, but here’s the deal. In the writing world, compensation in the form of a bi-weekly or even monthly paycheck is rare. Pats on the back are even rarer, and they’re often countered by a slap in the face. Sometimes we need a little encouragement, and it’s important to acknowledge that need. Whether it’s with a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream or an hour with a book by a favorite author. BTW, I couldn’t use the book bribe because that’s how I get myself to exercise. The glass of wine is out because of meds. And that bowl of ice cream? Well, let’s just say I don’t want to outgrow that new dress before I get to wear it.

As for the painting…well, it’s still waiting. And I don’t think even a bribe will help.

Sooo, have you ever bribed the “writer you” to get your words?

Update: I got to keep the whole shopping spree. I pushed through a major logjam in the book, and I’m on a roll. Even better, I’ve developed a productive new writing habit.


A Writer Confesses: I had to bribe myself to write! — 19 Comments

  1. I was on the last stretch of the last book, and I told myself I could go anywhere I wanted and eat anything as long as it was somewhere I could write. It took about ten cups of coffee, ten muffins, and one blackened salmon sandwich, but I turned the book in on time. Now I’m headed for the finish line, but the kids are out of school. I might have to bribe my husband, so I can bribe myself to get this one done, LOL! Great post!

  2. I love the paragraph about acknowledging the need for encouragement. I’ve used bribes in the past, but rarely. I need to institute this for both my word count and my workouts. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’re having a blast at conference.

  3. I reward myself for doing tons of things. I make a list of ten daily things I want to do (like drinking water instead of soda, exercising, housework, writing, etc.) Then I make a chart with the list down the side and the days of the week across the top. If I do everything on my list every day for a week then I get a reward. Sometimes, like you, I don’t want the reward at the end because seeing all those X’s in all those boxes feels so good. I guess I’m just a ten year old with a chore chart, but it works for me.

  4. Bribery is a great idea. I’ve used it to get myself to the gym; I told myself I can only listen to audiobooks at the gym, so if I want to hear the end of a story I have to use the treadmill! The hard part will be figuring out what bribes will work best for writing. I guess the key is making the bribe something I love – probably not painting either!

  5. Pingback: Increasing Daily Word Count - The Contemporary Romance Cafe

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