Incentives, Rewards and Plain Old Pats on the Back

I’ve got to say, I’m very proud of myself this year.

Every time I participate in NaNoWriMo, I set a wordcount goal of 2000 words per day. I find this number sets me up for success because, if I can keep up that pace, I either finish NaNoWriMo early, or I can miss a day and not fall drastically behind.

Every year, however, I fail to reach this daily wordcount goal. And I don’t just fail a couple of weeks in. No, I fail on Day 2, and again on Day 3, and fail fairly consistently throughout the month, causing me to have to write 5000-6000 in single sittings just to catch up.

Hands typing on laptop

So far this year, for the first five days of NaNoWriMo, I’ve managed to keep up with my goal of 2000 every day. For those who are superstitious,  you’re probably thinking, “Don’t jinx it!” Well, I’m willing to take that risk because I think it’s important that we all remember to pat ourselves on the back once in a while.

And I’m not just talking about congratulating yourself for being ahead of the official NaNo schedule. I mean, you should congratulate yourself if you’ve accomplished any goal you’ve set for yourself. Maybe you just want to write 500 words today. Maybe you just want to come up with a book title. If you accomplish your goal, give yourself a pat on the back.

Remember to reward yourself in other ways, too. I have various incentives that help facilitate daily success. For example, if it’s a Thursday, I can’t watch the latest episode of Survivor until I’ve reached 2000 words. Other times, the incentive is a tasty treat, or a cup of coffee.

Yesterday, I rewarded myself for reaching 2000 words by spending an hour designing my book cover. That may seem like a weird goal to the rest of you, but for someone like me, whose heart skips a beat when she sees the Photoshop icon dance in her dock, it’s a fun way to kill an hour while enjoying a glass or wine or beer. Though I plan on getting my book traditionally published, and therefore this cover will likely never be used, I’d still like to share it. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up self-publishing instead.

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Jessica Trudel

Jessica Trudel is a freelance writer and editor, and founder of the Silverleaf Writers Guild. She has contributed to various print and digital publications across Canada and the U.S., including TimminsToday, TalkSpace, and BoldFace.

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