If your bank account is anything like mine, you’d probably rather not look at it for a while. The thought of buying something probably sends an involuntary shiver or two down your spine.
If you’re like me in another way, you’re probably starting to feel the long dark nights, the cold and the misery of January. Those writing resolutions you’ve made? Not looking so easy to keep right now, I bet. Even staying cheerful and upbeat can be hard going in January. It’s the most depressing month of the year.
So what can you do to keep yourself motivated in your writing goals? Well, I’m very motivated by rewards, I don’t think there are many people out there that aren’t. And no, the reward of knowing that I’ve been good and worked hard is not going to cut it. I want stickers and chocolate and presents.
When to Reward
You need to break your goals down into stages. If you promise yourself something nice when you finish your first draft, that’s great – but it might be months down the line. What’s going to keep you going? Consider rewarding chapter by chapter, or on major word count milestones. The rewards can be small for small steps, culminating in something bigger.
- Anything you like to do on a regular basis, particularly those things you like to do instead of writing. These are great for when you’ve finished your writing tasks for the day. Examples: Watch an episode of a TV show, spend half an hour gaming, spending time with a friend
- Little treats – have a pot of these ready in the cupboards to dip in to. Things high in sugar have the added benefit of giving you an energy boost. Use these when you’ve done smaller parts of a bigger job, such as completing one blog post out of the three you need to write. Examples: A chocolate bar, a packet of sweets, a muffin, mug of hot chocolate
- Bigger rewards are great to celebrate the end of an extended project. If your goal is to blog three times a week in March, you might give yourself a treat when you finish your posts for the week, but if you keep it up all month, you deserve something nice! This doesn’t need to be expensive, but it’s the perfect way to give yourself the excuse to get something you’ve wanted for a while. Examples: A meal out in a restaurant, a book, a DVD, an item of clothing
Rewarding on a Budget
If you’re saving the pennies (who isn’t at this time of year?) consider making your reward an excuse to put something aside. Set a value for your targets – perhaps £1 for every small goal, £5 for the bigger ones, £10 or more for a major goal. Each time you hit it, pop the money in a jar. Make it a see-through one so you can watch the pennies growing.
For example, if your goal is to write a 90k novel, you might set your donations to:
- £1 every time I hit my target daily word count
- £5 each 5000 word milestone
- £10 bonus when I cross the halfway point
- £50 on completion
These amounts aren’t going to break the bank. If you hit your target word count every day, the money will really start to add up. Even if you never hit it, as long as you finish the novel, you’ll have saved £150, just through the other targets. That’s a nice day or two at the spa to celebrate!
How do you keep yourself motivated? Let me know your tips and ideas!