Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Art of Ingeniously Bribing

I love to write. It is my escape from the world, my corner of fairyland where anything can happen.

But sometimes, I just don't wanna. Whether the words are flowing like frozen molasses or I stayed up too late the night before, some mornings getting my butt in my writing chair seems an insurmountable task.

Let's start at the beginning: Last year, I was lucky enough to get into Samhain's Binding Ties anthology. It was an AMAZING experience, and the novella "Maison Domine" came out last September. Since then, aside from a few short stories, I've not written...anything. Life was getting in the way. This summer, I said enough. I demanded time from myself to write, and I started with the "Book in a Month" (BIAM) program.

And it actually worked! My goal was a 20k novella, and in four weeks, I reached 25k. I'm almost done--last two scenes--and then onto another project. Falling into a routine was so much easier than I'd thought. Writing is like any other muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So the longer I've been writing daily with my 1k goal, the easier it's been to hit that number. Most days I even go over!

Still, some days I'm lucky to get 300 words, so I've developed the Art of Ingeniously Bribing (thanks, Jane Collier, for the title inspiration). The BIAM system has you set out a reward at the beginning: mine is buying a nice pen from Levenger.

Despite the end goal, I found myself in need of micro-goals on certain difficult days. I've compiled my bribery list below.
- Having a piece of Vosges chocolate (courtesy of PG Forte)
- Buying another Nine Naughty Novelists book (Currently "Rigger" by Kelly Jamieson; next, "No Matter What" by Erin Nicholas, then "Iron" by PG Forte. I'm working my way through all eight of my co-bloggers)
- Putting awesomely cute cat stickers on my calendar for days I reach 1k+
- Buying new candles (each project has its own candle/scent)
- Buying new pens (I outline and prewrite by hand)
- Buying new journals (see above)
- Downloading new music (each Act has a certain soundtrack to capture the mood)
- Buying a new book on writing or editing
- Cashing in on a promised back/foot rub from Phin

It's bribery galore here--but most of them are dependent upon my finishing a project (hello, upcoming short stories!). So how do you manipulate yourself into working when you just don't feel like it? Or do you write better when you can step away from the project for a day or two and wait for the words to come to you?


Debra St. John said...

I love the idea of little rewards along the way. If I'm on a roll, I can crank out chapters in a day, but when I'm stuck, I let my writing languish, and then it's weeks before I touch it again. I do set long term goals, I think I may need to revisit some things for the short term.

Thanks for the post.

PG Forte said...

I love this concept (and let me know when you need re-stocking, btw). I don't think I'm self disciplined enough to bribe myself--I know me. I'm a pushover. lol!

However, since I have a bad tendency to ignore everything else when the words are flowing, I've learned to use the occasional "down time" to catch up with other aspects of the writing biz: promo, my newsletter, scheduling chats (guess which phase I'm in now? *rolls eyes*)

Skylar Kade said...

Debra, I wrote very much like that for years. But they say 11 days is all your body/mind needs to develop a new habit, so I said I'd write every day for 11 days. And it stuck. Even if it was just 200 words, I'd write SOMETHING.

And PG? Sometimes I'm overly generous with my bribes, so when I'm in one of those moods, Phin actually assigns the bribes for me. It works out nicely, especially because he has such good bribes :D

Meg Benjamin said...

I'm afraid I go the other way--my inner bitch keeps goading me on. "Three pages? Three freakin' pages? Get back to that computer right now!" Bribes would be so much nicer.

Kelly Jamieson said...

I like your strategy Skylar! Perhaps I should deny myself a few things until I have completed a goal. I've never been one to set a word count goal, mostlhy because I haven't needed to, but there are some days I procrastinate on all the other business of writing rather than actually writing. So tonight - I can't go for that bubble bath, new book and glass of wine until I've written - SOMETHING!

Skylar Kade said...

Meg, sometimes I wish I had an inner slave-driver or guilt-tripper. Sometimes that's what gets me out of bed in the morning, but to reach a word goal when I'm feeling crappy? Bribes, all the way. Though I'm sure my hips would thank me if I replaced chocolate with my demanding inner bitch.

Kelly, get that writing done! Your evening sounds divine :)