For those of us who depend on our writing for a grade or for money, we can’t afford to sit around waiting for inspiration to hit. One of the best ways I’ve found to motivate myself when writing is to set goals, and reward myself for reaching those goals. For instance, I love a good game of Tetris. Unfortunately, I could probably spend most of my evening playing Tetris and happily ignoring the paper I have due the next day. Rather than spending hours sneakily playing Tetris and procrastinating on my paper, I’ve found that rewarding myself for the work I can get done is a win-win situation. I get my work done, and I get to play Tetris.
Writing rewards shouldn’t be big rewards, unless it’s a celebration after completing the final edit of a big paper. The rewards you give yourself after reaching a writing goal should be relatively painless. Make yourself a cup of tea, go for a walk around the block, play a quick game of Tetris, watch a 30 minute TV show, but don’t watch a three-hour movie after writing your first paragraph! By making the rewards short and giving them a time limit, you’ll be better able to slip right back into your work space feeling refreshed and inspired.
The other thing to consider when rewarding yourself for writing is when you’ll do it. Sometimes, if you’re totally stuck, committing to non-stop writing (or typing, as the case may be) for 30 minutes can be a great way to break the ice. You may prefer to set your goals after a certain amount of time spent working or after a certain amount of work being accomplished. I find it works better to go based on amount produced rather than time. For example, on the one-page response I’m working on tonight, I’ve decided to reward myself after every paragraph. My reward for finishing the first paragraph? A quick blog update. After my second paragraph, I plan on grabbing a snack.
The great thing about implementing this system is that soon, you’ll settle into the work-reward format. Writing, as an independent activity, can often feel lonely and isolating. However, you can work in rewards that will make it less of a chore. What are some other tips you use to help get your writing on track?