Saturday, April 14, 2012

When the Writing Gets Tough . . .Guest Proser Jessica Foster

Writing can be difficult. It can be beyond difficult. We spend months and months writing over 50,000 words (or in the case of NaNoWriMo, we sacrifice sleep, food, and hygiene to write 50,000 words in one month long burst).

Then we submit our hard work to our beta readers with the instructions, “Be tough.” We basically ask them to rip it to shreds and break our hearts. It makes it better in the end, but man, it still hurts.

We’ve lost sleep over plot holes and missed sunny days to meet our goals. We’ve zoned out on entire conversations as we ponder story lines or dialog.

It’s a tough business, my friends.

How can we make it easier?

I was pondering this and it made me think of an example from my real life.
Buying gas for my car.
I hate it.

It means I have to actually get into my car and drive to the gas station. I’m not a big fan of driving (I mean come on the gas station is within walking distance—it’d be so much easier to walk).

Then I have to maneuver my car into the station around the gas pumps and potholes and fifty other cars needing to buy gas. And I have to do this twice because I forget which side my gas tank is on every . . . single . . . time . . .

To top it off, after paying the huge bill, I inevitably will forget to put the gas cap back on and have to buy a new one.

Buying gas is no fun. But it is necessary because running out of gas makes for a really bad day. It is a fact: I must drive, therefore I must buy gas.

A few weeks ago, my experience in gas buying changed and now I look forward to it.

What changed?
(If you say my attitude, no cookies for you. This isn’t one of those posts.)

One word. Bribary. Er I mean rewards.

Heaven..thy name is Slurpee!
See my gas station is this nifty little place called 7-11 and they have the delicious little drinks called Slurpees. So if I go to get gas, I get a Slurpee.

How does that apply to writing?

Well, writing is going to be tough. Why not reward yourself for little accomplishments along the way?

When I finished the edit of my latest work in progress, I allowed myself to read Possession by Elana Johnson  (I’ve been dying to read it).

Your reward doesn’t have to be big. (If every time you finished a chapter you gave yourself a free kitten and a trip to Disney World, things would get out of hand fast). Figure out something you love and use that to motivate yourself. Get a bowl of candy or grapes and every time you write a hundred words, you get one. When you’re finally brave enough to submit your story to your betas, go see that movie you’ve been dying to see or order a pizza. Or take a walk. Or buy a book. The possibilities are endless.

So go out there and get to writing. And when it gets tough—remember, bribery . . . er rewards!


  1. Thanks for letting me be a guest. Feel free to stop by my regular blog at . I love having guests.

  2. Great post Jessica.

    There are a lot of hard parts of writing, but writing can also be a reward. Sometimes I tell myself, if I get the kitchen cleaned in the next twenty minutes, I can have twenty minutes of writing before I start dinner. Well, as long as the kids behave.

    I do love the idea of really celebrating those big achievements like submitting a story to an agent or publisher or even finishing a book. That deserves a big reward.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. I've been thinking a lot about finances lately. As an self-employed restaurant owner I don't get a "real" paycheck, I get whatever is left when the bills are paid. But I've been learning now to put aside for future bills (instead of maximizing re-investment with each payday). But when I read this, it makes me think . . . what if I paid myself in the same way. Say I paid myself $2 a page and everytime I write a page I transfer some money to guarantee its there for me instead of slipping back into the all-consuming business.

  4. Cool idea, J.S.

    I think this motivation thing/bribery could really help me. I know there's this chapter that I just can't make myself write. Maybe I should tell myself I can go get a slurpee, or new shoes or something, if I finish it.

    I think you're really on to something here, Jessica. Thanks so much for guest-prosering.

  5. Reward with a Slurpee is brilliant!
    I like to write for a couple of hours and treat myself to breakfast. Then write for a couple more hours and treat myself to lunch. hahaha. Sometimes I throw in an episode of Castle I haven't seen yet as a reward.
    GREAT post, Jessica!

  6. The reward system works for a lot of things. They can be a big motivation is writing. Thanks for the post.

  7. SLURPEES!!!!!!
    Great ideas here and I laughed out loud in a couple of spots!

  8. I wish my gas station gave out slurpees! Your reward system is a good idea. Hmmm... now I'm just going to have to think of something.

  9. Yes, bribery is the best policy. We used it on our kids shamelessy. It's a marvelous idea dahling.

  10. What? The final, finished product isn't reward enough?

    j/k I totally get the importance of rewarding your efforts. Because I could keep working on my projects forever and never call them done. =D

  11. Bribery works wonders, even if it's as simple as writing for an hour and then getting some internet time. A timer works wonders for me, too, to keep me on track. It's shocking what can be accomplished with 15 minutes of real concentration.

    Great post!


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