Carrot or Stick?

Recently a friend sent me a link to stickk.com. According to the website, StickK is a method for setting and achieving goals developed by Yale economists. You make a commitment contract (for exercise, weight loss, writing, or just about any other goal) and if you don’t meet your goal, you donate a sum of money you designate to a cause of your choice.

It got me thinking about my work-in-progress and the snail’s pace at which it is progressing. In my defense, I’ve been really trying to work for an hour every day. When I miss, it’s usually due to issues related to my disabled husband, the kids or the house. (It is NOT a good thing when you are on a first-name basis with your plumbing and heating guys.) But there are days when I’m tired and the words don’t come.

Although it sounds like StickK works for a lot of people, I’m not sure it would be right for me. I already have a tendency to beat myself up, so maybe I don’t need a program like that to do it to me.

One thing I have learned helps my productivity is seeing my progress visually. When I participated in National Novel Writing Month a few years ago, I loved logging my daily wordcount and watching the graph update. So this week, I decided to look for something similar. Here’s my progress bar from storytoolz.com.

Click to view daily statistics

Unfortunately, life intervened on Wednesday and Thursday and so I haven’t had the fun of updating my wordcount. As for today, a dear friend and I are taking a mental health day and going for what is probably our last hurrah of the season on the ski slopes.

Next week I will be productive. I promise!

How about you? What sort of motivation do you find works best?

Also, Heaven Sent is my working title, but I’m worried that it sounds too much like an inspirational romance. What do you think?


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Beth Elliott
10 years ago

Elena, it sounds as if you’re feeling the dragging weariness of the end of winter. The days are starting to get longer and my ten year old cat yesterday and today leapt and raced around the garden like a lamb – he knows that Spring and renewal are coming for all of us. I admire your word count already – I’m dejected because I can’t get into my new WIP at all.
Motivation secrets…write a bit each day, however rubbishy it is. A bit of pressure is good but flogging yourself will only exhaust you. take a breather.

10 years ago

Sounds like life’s been rough for you lately, that’s enough to leave anyone down in the dumps. Hopefully, today’s treat will lift your spirits and get you back into the swing of things.

I’m not a writer but we all need motivating from time to time. 🙂 I’m definitely a carrot kind of girl, if I reach a goal I get a treat. Doesn’t have to be anything big, just something to keep me moving forward. 🙂

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

Good for you for taking a ski day (not that I would ever ski… or sky dive…or go spelunking…)

I need to develop daily goal!

I am motivated by success, so whatever works, that’s what I aim for!

Stephanie J
10 years ago

Everyone should take a mental health day now and again! I hope you two have fun. And send a little snow down to TX for us – it’s been a very mild and warm winter. Way too warm for my taste!

I’m motivated by positive things. I need words of encouragement from friends and I like to reward myself when I accomplish a goal. That might mean the pair of shoes I’ve been eyeing or a fun new notebook. I’m glad you mentioned the NaNoWriMo chart because I’m also visual and like to see my progress!

Louisa Cornell
10 years ago

I absolutely understand! I love my current WIP, but the day job is killing me and I have to struggle to cut out quality time to write. When I say quality, I mean time when I am not exhausted!

I like the word meter idea. And I have a stack of books I have promised myself I can read once the current WIP is done. SIGH.

They say it takes 60 to 90 days to develop a habit. I want to establish the habit of writing three hours a day. Wish me luck!

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Thanks for all the supportive comments and suggestions. It has been a rough time, more than I’ve said. The system is set up to send caregivers into an early grave. But I will do my best to beat the system!

Yesterday’s ski day was lovely. Wish I could send you some of that snow, Stephanie, but it’s fast disappearing here too.

Best of luck to everyone here with goals. May we all find what works best. 🙂

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Beth, as to not getting into the new WIP, is it an issue of time or is it just not clicking yet? I find when I’m stuck that switching up method can help. Maybe trying some sort of pre-writing activity, like seeking out research info, music that suits the mood of the story, writing exercises like GMC charts or character interviews. Or one thing I tried that is really fun: making a story collage. There’s info on Jennifer Crusie’s website on how to do that. In any case, best of luck.

10 years ago

As for the title, a lot will depend on the cover as to how people will interpret it. I remember the cover of a romance I read many, many years ago. It was titled (Somebody’s) Angel and had a “bodice ripper” cover. No question what type of inspiration was going on there.
I am sorry life has been so difficult lately. Hopefully some “me time” and Spring will help ease things a bit for you. As far as motivation, whatever works for you. If a visual is necessary, the graph works well. I did a program on stickk.com last year. The goal setting and checking in was good, with or without the financial incentive. I made a bit of progress, but didn’t renew the program when i finished.

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