October 14, 2009

THE WAY OF THE WRITER: It's So Rewarding

In the book Write. 10 Days to Overcome Writer's Block. Period. by Karen E. Peterson, Ph.D. (is it bad that I actually enjoyed putting so many periods into this sentence before the end?), Dr. Peterson has a chapter about rewarding yourself for writing.

It's an interesting concept, and one worth exploring . . . writer's block or no. I found that I already did this, although in two different ways. On one hand, whenever I finished a large project I used to "celebrate" by going to a movie. (I usually go alone. Every time I start a new large project my wife and I flirt with the idea of going out to dinner together as a celebration, but that usually doesn't happen. Four kids, you know. These days, if we get to go out on a date, it's jut to celebrate being able to get a baby-sitter!) The other reward has been being able to pay the bills.

Peterson's strategy is different, and more structured. Every minute you spend writing, reward with another minute of something else. In some ways, the reward strategy becomes a replacement for the things you were using so you wouldn't write. An example she gives is this: checking e-mail. Think about that. Instead of checking your e-mail when you should be writing, you use checking e-mail as a reward for writing! She uses a one to one formula for the "time" rewards. Twenty minutes of writing "equals" twenty minutes of reward time.

It's an interesting concept. I'm not sure I could pull off the 1:1 ratio of reward time . . . until I think about how much time I waste when I really should be writing. Just last night, I sat in front of the television with a movie, thinking to myself, "This would be a good time to work on that one idea."

Looking at my day, I see a lot of wasted time. A lot. And, as much as the phone commercials would like you to believe . . . time cannot be recycled.

That doesn't mean that time used to do things like watch tv or reading a book is automatically wasted time! Not at all! We need to recharge our batteries, take in some input when we're spending so much time pouring out. But, with a personality like mine, it easily becomes wasted time. It easily and quickly goes from "recharging my batteries" to "being lazy". That's where I need to work.

~ Ben

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