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Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to have dinner with authors Myretta Robens, her critique partner Sandy Tabor, Loretta Chase, and Evelyn Richardson.

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?


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I know being a stay-at-home mom (and sporadic writer) is a joy–I get to be with my son, watch him learn, and grow, and take care of him as only a parent can.

But it’s a helluva lot of hard work.

This year, we’ve had two bouts of pneumonia (not me), a catheter experience (not me), two ER visits (not me), virii (me and everyone else in the house), as well as real estate-related stress, tons of freelance work, the hating of school, the loving of video games, the balance of homework, dinner, and TV, and lots of other stuff that makes my teeth clench.

So this weekend, the son has gone to the in-laws’, the husband is in Vegas (poor guy) for the NBA All-Star Weekend, and I am going to Massachusetts. My plan is to a) hang out with Myretta Robens, otherwise known as the Delightful Phone Friend. She will take me book-shopping and treat-eating. Then b) sleeping past 7:00. And c) seeing my dad, the owner of a new car, which he WON a few months ago. That’s right, WON. In a contest.

(I am more excited about seeing my dad than the car, btw, but I am excited to see what a brand-new car looks like. I don’t think my parents ever bought a car straight off the lot.)

I will, of course, bring books: Lilith Saintcrow‘s Dead Man Rising, the second book in her Dante Valentine series, probably a Regency-set historical to offset all the demons and psionics of Saintcrow, and then maybe something fun and contemporary, like my friend Marianne Stillings‘ book Sighs Matter.

What are your plans for the long weekend?


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