How to Bribe Yourself into Productivity

On a good day, the act of creation itself is a reward. The words flow like water. Or the blood of your enemies. Whichever you prefer. But they can’t all be good days.And realistically, I think you already know that. I hope you already know that, at least. Becuase that makes the process a hell of a lot easier. I’m not telling you to assume you’re going to have shitty days writing or painting or whatever it is. But I am telling you that said shitty days are going to happen whether you prepare for them or not. So it’s best that you do. Doing this is easier than it sounds, given you have a fairly good grasp on who you are as a person. Examples to follow, of course.

I’m much like a house pet. Give me food, and I’m the happiest girl in the world. I will work for food. Particularly Ben and Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream or a square or two of chocolate, approximately 70% ideally, though. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth. Make a deal with yourself. I prefer to make this based on the amount of work I do rather than how long I work at it. Otherwise? I stare at a blank screen for my given amount of time and it kind of defeats the purpose. This really encourages you to fast draft. And I don’t know about you, but I run out of steam about halfway through a manuscript if I don’t write so quickly that it borders insanity. Trust me. I have the half dozen partial manuscripts to prove it.

Much like you treat your characters when you’re the benevolent-ish authoritarian leader of your fictional worlds, you have to find your weaknesses and exploit the shit out of them. The ones that are major timesucks for you. What you do when you know you ought to be writing instead.I’m a chronic procrastinator in the form of simple entertainment. So I also manage to bribe myself by allowing an episode of a television show, film, or sporting event.Though for much of this season, watching basketball and baseball has been a disappointment. And we’ve been over the football fiasco. What a clusterfuck. So much like MC Serch, I guess my game is hockey. Some days. When Crosby isn’t making me sweat it in a shootout.

Alternatively, I also use writing time to bribe myself some days. Because some days, I need the release. And it doesn’t feel like work. You don’t have to force anything at all. These are the days that you remember why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. But you have to temper yourself some. You have to do things outside of writing sometimes. I know. That blows. I’m sorry. In these situations, you reverse things. Go by time, not merit. Ideally on the task and the bribe, but definitely on the bribe. Otherwise you’ll have very little time actually writing and way too much muscling your way through scrubbing your floors or something.

So, as you might have already known, writing is both the job and the leisure time. It’s heaven and hell all wrapped into one odd time-sucking enigma. And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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