This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Yes, sometimes tough love is the way forward; lots of chest beating (ouch!) and yelling motivational slogans at yourself in the mirror ('just do it' and 'you're a tiger, grrr'). Sometimes, however, this just doesn't work, and continuing to try and push yourself is only going to make your creative block worse.
If you're feeling anxious about your writing and, let's be honest, you probably are, then increasing your anxiety levels by berating yourself for not being productive is not going to help. I'm going to say that again: Berating yourself is Not Going To Help.
So, what's the alternative to using a stick to beat yourself with? Enticing yourself with a carrot, of course. (For 'carrot' please read 'wine'.)In Hillary Rettig's The Seven Secrets of the Prolific, she suggests setting tiny, non-threatening goals (write for five minutes, for example) and then, immediately afterward, rewarding yourself for completing that goal.
In fact, she suggests that you 'develop a habit of abundant rewards'. This is something that I struggle with and I'm sure I'm not alone. I tend to set goals and then get cross with myself for not meeting them (even if I did lots of work, just didn't quite hit the target). While the logical part of my brain recognises that this is rather harsh, I still feel that I should be stricter with myself, rather than reward for a job 'half done'.
The first time I read Hillary's book I actually felt a bit frightened of the phrase 'abundant rewards' as if it was something dangerously subversive. I pictured myself accidentally joining a cult of self-indulgence and spending all of my time lolling about on sofas while eating bonbons and drinking champagne.
Hillary's book – which I highly recommend – explained that this reaction is 'perfectionism' (something which blocks productivity). Hillary says: 'The habit of recognising and lavishly rewarding success is one of your strongest techniques for overcoming perfectionism.' Eventually, Hillary says, you can develop a view of your work as a 'continuous series of successes'. Now, that sounds like a more enticing prospect, doesn't it?
What do you think? Do you use rewards in your writing process? If not, is it something you would consider trying?