Blast the Block!
When writer’s block sets in—and it will!—setting smaller goals (along with accompanying rewards) can help you to make progress in your book when the endless vision of blank pages has you frozen in place. Here are some ideas on goals and rewards to motivate you in your writing.
Some people are born to check things off and feel a huge sense of accomplishment simply by marking something as “complete”. If that describes you, listing your different book sections and tasks and checking them as you go may be all the reward you need. While an exhaustive list of hundreds of “to do’s” may inspire some people, others may feel overwhelmed by such an undertaking. For myself, I never list more than 5 book tasks on my “to do” list, so at the beginning, my tasks may be:
- Brainstorm on title ideas – list at least 5 possibilities
- Send title ideas to 5 friends/colleagues for their input
- Create a book outline – just the main structure/no chapters yet
- Write a rough draft for the back cover
- Send my rough draft to 3 friends/colleagues (preferably different than my “title” friends
I do love seeing a list full of checkmarks or cross-outs!
Perhaps you are a person who likes to work in blocks of time, with a break for exercise, a snack or an outing afterward. If that describes you, then you may enjoy scheduling your writing time by the clock, with a timer or countdown, and then “rewarding” yourself with a well-deserved break. Even my own to-do list greatly benefited by writing times next to tasks – like 10-10:45 AM next to a particular book task, and then adding “sit outdoors with a cup of coffee – 10:45 AM” to give me an impetus to remain on task for the full 45 minutes. Longer tasks may be aligned with larger breaks—like scheduling them before meals or outings—to give you a “finish line” that you are aiming for with your work. While a coffee break may not seem like a great reward, it certainly has fewer calories than chocolate!
Speaking of Chocolate . . .
If chocolate works, then chocolate it is! Seriously, no one is going to become enormous from 1 small piece per chapter or something like that . . . Just be sure not to keep it on your desk. Otherwise, your hand will be in the candy jar instead of on the computer keyboard, and that can lead to a very tiny book—and a very large waistline!
Writing AS the Reward
What if writing is the reward? The fact is – I love writing a book! Working on a new book is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon, and if I can do it with a warm breeze and a cold drink with soft music playing in the background, so much the better. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, so I don’t quite get to spend my afternoons in front of a laptop. But if writing is the reward for doing other things on my to do list, then perhaps I could reach that place of nirvana more often.
Admittedly, sometimes writing is much more of a chore, as I’m working on things that seem far from rewarding. But other times, when I’m faced with a list of menial tasks, housework to be done, or even my taxes, looking forward to a block of time to devote to a project so meaningful to me is a gift.
What do you REALLY want?
If seeing your name on the cover of a book and achieving some level of immortality isn’t quite doing it for you, perhaps there is something else that you REALLY want that can inspire your writing. Of course, it helps if that “something” was something within your reach and plans previously, but it can certainly be adapted to fit our needs. For example—how about a new car? While I love the idea of buying new cars simply out of desire, it certainly helps if you were planning to get one anyway and can afford it. Change the car from “necessity” or “plan in a few months” to “reward for writing my book”. Now on your scheduled breaks, you can print pictures of dream cars, pin them to a bulletin board above your desk, and keep your “pedal to the metal” in plugging ahead with your book. Vacations, big-ticket items, or even a fancy dinner out can be used as a longer-term goal—one which you can research during your breaks in order to keep the dream alive.
Whether it be food or fun, finding your particular triggers toward success can go a long way toward helping you to achieve your goals—and finish your book!