In the course of dinner, wherein we discussed authentic 19th century pigs, colonial Williamsburg, Venice, marriage contracts, and how much we love mashed potatoes, we talked about writing.
Writing, we decided, is the one thing we do that doesn’t have instant gratification. If the kitchen floor needs mopping, you pull out the Swiffer and have a go at it. Fifteen minutes later, you’ve got a clean floor. Other people can see you’ve got a clean floor. You’re certain you’ve accomplished something.
With writing, all the gratification is delayed–writing your 1,000 words, five pages, one chapter, etc., doesn’t reward you the same way sparkling linoleum does.
That conversation made me realize that my ability to procrastinate is just my desire for instant gratification. If I clear off the dining room table instead of write, I’ve done something I can point to and say ‘it’s done!’ The most insidious form of this instant gratification thing is posting to a blog–it’s writing, so it’s satisfying that way, but it’s also done, and you can see it’s done, and others can see it’s done. It can become a substitute for real writing, the kind that we’re theoretically doing when we log off Blogger.
So, since my brain is not always so smart, I am going to figure out a way to satisfy the instant gratification thing AND get some longer fiction writing done. How? By setting daily goals, by making writing my 1,000 words, five pages, one chapter, something my brain believes is a tangible, instant result. Silly brain.
And in a few months, I will have an entire book to show for it. Now that’s gratifying.
What tricks do you use to fool your brain? Do you offer rewards for completed tasks, like getting to read a new book?