A little bit of bribery often does a writer good

 

I’ve been writing up the walk I took this summer with my son, but it’s going slow. I found out that each day took about 3-4 posts to complete. What I was doing was writing the post, editing it and then getting it up on my blog.

Then I’d go have lunch.

Seriously. A single post expanded to the time I allowed it to have – which was all morning.

In reality, that’s not so bad, I mean it was a way to get the work out – slowly but surely.

But the problem is I have other projects that I want to start, other stories that I want to write.

So I’ve begun bribing myself.

I take myself to the beautiful library the next town over (that has a quiet room) and I sit my butt in the chair until I write up a full day from my walk. This morning I finished Day 9 (of 16.) It takes about 3.5 hours to write up each day, but in that time I get almost a week’s worth of posts. And it will soon free up my time to write other pieces.

You would not believe how my mind tries to get out of sitting in that chair.

  • My back hurts.
  • I need to get up and stretch.
  • I wonder if I locked the car.
  • Maybe I can stop early and then tack on what I need to do to tomorrow’s writing session.

Here’s where the bribery comes in. *If* I can finish a full day’s write-up (about 4,000 words total) *then* I can have lunch in a nice restaurant. Trust me, when you work out of your home and lunch usually consists of leftovers from the night before, a good lunch is tempting.

Tempting enough for me to finish what I need to do.

While my wallet is getting lighter, my manuscript is getting larger and that sits well with me.

So if you find that you’re stuck, if you feel like you’d rather do *anything* than sit down and write, try a little bribery.

I can personally recommend the Massaman curry just around the corner.

My favorite.

My favorite.

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

Another Way to Deal with Procrastination

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a type of applied psychology that is concerned with human thought, behavior, and communication. It sounds very esoteric, but there are many proven NLP techniques that have helped people in very concrete ways: using NLP techniques, people have eliminated phobias, changed bad habits, relieved stress, dealt with trauma, and built confidence.

I’ve been using NLP techniques on myself and with clients for years, and I recently read a couple of new books on the topic to get ready for a talk I’m giving this week. I started thinking about how I could apply NLP techniques to my writing life. One technique turned out to be extremely helpful.

Would you like to try it?

This exercise is taken from the book, The Essential Guide to Neuro-linguistic Programming, by Tom Hoobyar, and Tom Dotz, with Susan Sanders, but is a technique that Dr. Richard Bandler, one of the founders of NLP, used and taught frequently. You don’t need any special training to do this exercise, just take a few minutes and follow the directions as closely as you can and have fun with it!

Reducing Resistance and Procrastination

I want you to imagine two images. First, think of an image of your favorite thing to do. Remember what it was like to do that favorite thing and what it will be like to do that again. Actually be in that image so you have a vivid feeling of the experience.

Once you’ve got it, put that image (let’s call it Favorite Image) out in front of you a little way off. Then, between that image and you, put the image of a task you’ve been putting off (blog post, anyone?), only see the task as a picture in a magazine—either a photo of yourself doing the task or a drawing of the task. We’ll call that Task Image.

Now, right in the center of the Task Image, make a little pinhole so you can see your Favorite Image that’s behind the task. Notice how the picture is brighter. You can see through it. Open the pinhole a little so you can see that really great thing you want to do. Open it until you get the feeling of the favorite activity. As soon as you get that feeling, hold on to it and start closing the pinhole. If the feeling starts to go away, open it up again until the good feeling gets strong.

Return to these images and practice seeing your Favorite Image through the Task Image as often as you can.

The strategy behind this technique is based on the picture (Favorite Image) that’s behind the task. The task is between you and the thing you want to do. You just open up a little window in the task so you can see through it to the thing you want to do. The window becomes your iris that opens until you begin to get the emotional connection to the thing you love to do, then you very slowly close it down. Your relationship to your task will change. Guaranteed.

I’ve only been using this technique for a week but I definitely feel more peaceful about sitting down to write and I definitely procrastinated less than usual. I’m going to continue to use this technique for a while and see how much more writing I can get done!

Try it and let me know what you think.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, family physician, and mother. I’m using any tool that works to help me become a better writer!

 

 

 

 

Visuals for goals make an impression

We’ve had several conversations on this blog about goal setting, the importance of writing your goals down and breaking those goals into quarterly/monthly/weekly/daily tasks.

We’ve also talked about ‘checking off’ those daily tasks and crossing items off ToDo lists.

And while I love crossing items off a list, or putting a check next to a “big goal”, I’ve found great value in other visuals, too.

For instance, for exercise – I give myself a star or a smiley face or a “great job” sticker on a day that I have at least 30 minutes of exercise. I have 12 small months taped to a kitchen door, so I can easily see how many days I’ve exercised throughout the year whenever I want. It’s quite inspiring.

Race bibs from 2012

Race bibs from 2012

Last year, I completed 2 races – a 5K and a triathlon. I tacked the race bibs to my bulletin board (as well as giving myself those stickies for exercising those days!)

I stopped exercising all together after the triathlon since I didn’t have any other races in mind. At year’s end, I knew I had to make 2013 better.

I decided that if I had (about) a race a month, I’d have to keep moving. My goal is to complete at least 12 races. (I’m new to running, so don’t feel I need to win, place, or show — just complete a race and focus on improving.)

Race bibs from 2013

Race bibs from 2013

This year, to date, I’ve completed 11 races, including a triathlon and a 5K obstacle course. When I look at the wall of all my bibs, I can’t help but smile, be proud of myself, and be motivated to keep exercising so my next race will be even better.

I’m currently registered for 2 more races, so will hit 13 total. I’m not superstitious about ’13’ at all, but I may try for 14.

1-Mile Pace listed on index card

1-Mile Pace listed on index card

Another visual I have is  an index card list of my “1-mile pace” numbers. I had my fastest pace yesterday!

Visuals make an impression!

I’m absolutely motivated to increase my fitness goals for next year.

For writing goals, I tape up class certificates, awards, as well as kudo notes and emails. And I track business/income submissions on green index cards, so at a glance at my corkboard I know how many projects I’ve completed that have generated income.

Posting visuals of any achievement is a great idea. Remember having grade school papers put on the refrigerator door? First drawings being proudly displayed on some wall in the house? How about those pencil marks on a door jam that showed how much we grew in a year? Did they motivate you to do more? Weren’t you curious to see how far/tall you could grow? (How far can you grow now as a writer?)

Let your inner child out a bit.

Show off your accomplishments, even if only to yourself  — every time you look at the wall where you’ve taped them, hung them, pinned them, or trapped them with a magnet – you’ll smile and feel proud.

Good idea?

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

How Losing Weight and Writing a Novel are Similar

100DaysIndexCover2-120            Last May I was overweight and hypertensive, and I was unhappy about needing medication for a preventable cardiac risk. As serendipity would have it, I met a nutritionist while on a writing assignment for an outdoor magazine, and she recommended the book, 100 DAYS TO WEIGHT LOSS by Linda Spangle.

Two-hundred and twenty-eight days later, I’m twenty pounds lighter, my BMI is under 25, my blood pressure is back to normal without medication, and I’ve learned that there are many similarities to losing weight and writing a novel, most notably – persistence.

Spangle writes that people typically give up on a plan for diet and exercise after only three or four weeks – because life gets in the way. While I am constitutionally incapable of not writing regularly, I can lose track of my novel under all the other writing tasks on my desk.

Sometimes, I put writing for broadcasts, columns, and clients ahead of my book. Sure, some of these tasks come with deadlines and a paycheck, and there are days (okay, weeks), when the prospect of ever seeing my novel complete (let alone in print) seems bleak. This kind of thinking can be a self-fulfilling prescription for failure – just like the defeatist thinking I used back when I’d punish myself for straying from a strict diet with a dish of ice cream by finishing off the pint.

The first time I worked my way through the 100 DAYS of motivational exercises, I committed to “just one more day” every day – even on days I wanted to give up and eat an entire bag of chips. By the time I hit Day 100, I’d lost over ten pounds. So I started over, and did the exercises again. I’m now going through the book for the third time – not because I need to lose any more weight, but because I can apply these same lessons to helping me finish drafting Ellen, a novel I’ve been working on longer than I like to admit.

I have a greater understanding now that some days will be better than others. Some days I will write well; other days, not so much. Some days I’ll want to quit, and I’ll even welcome unplanned life events (a leaky roof, a lost dog, an unexpected visitor) as an excuse to skip writing, just as I used to welcome a dinner party as an excuse from self-control.

What I’ve learned in the last thirty-three weeks of weight loss is that I can not only tackle a difficult task by working at it day after day, I can succeed – as long as I don’t give up.

What strange places have you found motivation to keep writing?

DLL

Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, essayist and educator. She lives in southern Vermont and can be found on the web at www.deborahleeluskin.com

Man is it hot out there

Man, oh man, is it hot out there.

I’m writing this post sitting in my yellow reading chair with my trusty little pink fan blowing straight at me. A strand of hair keeps fluttering over my face. I try to ignore it – the price one pays for a manufactured cooling breeze.

A tall glass of water, cool enough for condensation rivulets to race each other down its length, sits by my side. For fear of water damage, I move away all papers, including my list of what it is I need to do.

All lights have been turned off and my solar-fueled Tinker-Bell (I believe! I believe!) whose wings flap by way of power generated from light sits quietly in anticipation of a cooler, brighter day.

And I have a project that I’m working on. Not a huge one, but a few solid pages of writing. I should have been finished with it by now, instead I sit in this darkened corner, as still as my fairy, waiting for my creative wings to gather enough energy to move.