Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Random Writing Tips – Broken incentives


Many years ago, in an effort to increase my writing output, I set myself a goal of writing a certain number of words each day.  It’s a great idea, but I was rather hit-or-miss on meeting my goal.  So one day I decided to give myself a bit of an incentive.  I bought a bag of mixed little candy bars, and told myself I’d get one whenever I met my goal.  If I wrote twice my goal, I’d get two, and so on.  This worked for a couple of … days.  Then one night I was hungry for something sweet but didn’t have any cookies or anything.  I was looking at this almost full bag of little candy bars, and figured I could eat some now and just owe having to write those words.

Once that precedent was set, things kind of snowballed.  I quickly finished off that first bag, and a second, and a third.  It wasn’t long before I had a little container of balled up candy wrappers.  Foil ones, not clear ones, and only from little candies, not full sized candy bars.  That would have been weird.  Whenever I hit my goal, I throw one away.  Whenever I eat a little, foil wrapped candy, I ball up the wrapper and put it in the container.  As things stand now, I need to write a novel, or three, to pay off my candy debt. 

On one hand, this is silly.  It wasn’t long before I expanded on what counted as paying off the debt, such as submitting a story or, for the last couple of years I’ve tracked how much time I’ve spent on writing and writing related activities, and this year I’ve started counting an hour a week of writing as worth one candy.  Even with that, I’m still a novel or three behind.  And yet I stick to it.  I’d hate to die with a candy debt.  I need to write more, and/or eat less candy.  I just haven’t figured out an incentive program that would let me, ideally, do both.


Image from Pixabay.

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