Friday, November 14, 2008

Deadline Incentives

What “carrot in front of the horse” measures do you use to trick, I mean tempt yourself to keep going when faced with a deadline? My current deadline is a manuscript that needs to be finished in time to submit to a contest. Maybe you’re trying to finish a manuscript that has an appointment with your editor’s desk, finish a home repair project or write a proposal for your small business.

When the project is enormous, sometimes we lose steam in the middle or when the light is at the end of the tunnel, but it’s only a tiny glimmer, we may still think of giving up.

Do you scold, reward, chain yourself to your computer/ladder/desk? Here are a few things that work for me.

* Keeping a daily log of my manuscript page count. I downloaded a free monthly calendar, printed it out and write the page number I end on each day in the blank square. Seeing the numbers climb as the calendar progresses gives me a little thrill.

* Coffee. Lots of coffee. I make a deal with myself: unlimited coffee after lunch as long as I am writing. Maybe too much caffeine intake is a bad idea, so use this one in moderation.

* A few pieces from the bag of chocolate that I hide in the kitchen cabinet are a boost when a scene is being tricky. (My hiding place is no secret to my family now, so I guess I’m really hiding it from myself until I can’t resist.)

* A book by a favorite author sitting on my To Be Read pile that is off-limits until the project is finished. In this case, Lisa Kleypas’s Seduce Me At Sunrise.

You might be thinking that this sounds an awful lot like the Treat Box elementary teachers keep in their room for good students. I say whatever works, use it.

What works for you? Accountability with a project partner? The reward system? Tips are always welcome.


Writer and Cat said...

I chain myself to my desk and that works best. This is assuming I can get time to write with no kids! Then the chain thing is a bad idea because I can't leap up fast enough to save them from disaster.

Jody W.

Rae Ann Parker said...

I think I should avoid the chain. I might injure myself when I jump up to pace around the desk, talking to myself, pretending to be my characters AND I couldn't reach the coffee.

Shauna Roberts said...

Even though I make schedules and enter personal deadlines on them, real deadlines, such as contest deadlines and critique group meetings, work a lot better.

When I was working full time, I kept a year-long calendar on the door. Every day that I wrote for at least half a day, I put a sticker on the calendar. It sounds silly, but I found getting a sticker rewarding and several blank calendar days in a row motivation to find some space in my schedule to write.

Rae Ann Parker said...

SHAUNA, I definitely agree on the real deadlines being a major incentive. Thanks for stopping by!