Sunday, 5 June 2011

Carrots for Asses

The reward system.

I love it.

I love it and I use it and I advocate it. It helps you write! (And do other stuff!)

You want that cupcake. You know it's there, and it's yours. You're gonna eat it and love it and when you're done you're gonna sit down and write--WAIT! Don't do it! Use it as a reward! Write first! When you get maybe 100 words written, or whatever arbitrary goal you set, THEN you can eat the cupcake. It's a reward for doing a good job--or at least for doing something.
(Think "positive reinforcement," if you want.)

Fine, you think. But I shouldn't eat the cupcake anyway, I'm on a diet. So now I don't have to write, ha!

But you do. And you know why? Because I'm going to dare you. I'm gonna lay a challenge at your feet and slap you with a white glove. I challenge you to a word war.

The word war is a simple thing. Anyone who's tried NaNoWriMo has probably heard of it. And it's simple as hell, so you have no excuse, really. Here's what you do.
  • Get a partner. You can do it by yourself if you're dedicated, but having a fellow writer helps immensely. Plus...well, it's a war. They can be free-for-alls, too. I've been in a war with four or five other people before.
  • Set a time limit. I like five minutes, personally, but that doesn't mean you have to do it. Some people go for ten minutes, or an hour. Just set a duration. (For example, :10 - :15. )
  • Get ready, get set, GO! Set everything else aside and just write for the duration of the war. The aim is to get as many words down as possible. They don't have to be perfect. They shouldn't be. Turn off the inner editor and write.
  • Compare. When time's up, share how many words you wrote with your partner. Whoever got the most words wins! (Note: there is typically no prize for winning, other than the satisfaction of having written more than the other guys.)
I love these. I've had days where it's just war after war after war, and I get way more written than I might have otherwise. Word wars are fantastic for people with a competitive streak.

But I have no one to write with, you complain. No one's here and the internet's out!

Fine, fine, I'll feed you, baby bird. Grab a kitchen timer, set it for ten minutes, and do nothing but write for those ten minutes. Or you can just sit there and stare at the paper/screen for ten minutes. Whatever floats your boat. The only stipulation is that you can't do anything else. At all. No internet, no phone (stop texting and turn the damn thing off!), no reading, no nothing. Either you'll get bored and start writing, or you'll sit there and sit there and sit there.

I'm just gonna sit here, you say.

Fine, I give up. I guess you'll never be a writer.

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