I learnt a new term this week and it is something that resonates strongly with me. Something that I think will change my life.
I love it because
- it makes sense, and
- it is something I can do fairly easily.
I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before, but now that I have I know it will make a difference.
What is it?
It’s called ‘Temptation Bundling’.
How does it work? Basically, make a list of some of the things you need to do but keep putting off – you know, those things that have made you into the queen or king of procrastination. Make a list of them, then make a column alongside and list some of the things you do to reward yourself. Things that you love and really want to spend time on.
Temptation bundling is about making a bargain with yourself – “if you go for a 20 minute walk, then you will deserve to have a couple of pieces of chocolate”, or “if you finish your tax return, you can book that holiday you have been wanting” or “if you finish proof-reading that chapter, you can take some time out to watch your favourite dvd.” That sort of thing. You raise the stakes on some of your choices, you work for the things you want (and get things done along the way).
Check out James Clear’s great blog article at http://jamesclear.com/temptation-bundling
I think this will work for me – I wonder if you already do something like this, or if it is something you are planning to start doing. Let me know!
Feel like giving up? James Clear has some good advice about how to develop grit and determination. It’s not easy, but it is something that can become easier with practice. http://jamesclear.com/giving-up?
I have three personal tricks that help me to maintain focus and keep a positive perspective (even when I am feeling dispirited)
- Just turn up and do what you can. If the current book is going nowhere, then start another one or work on a different writing project for a while. Often after a break from a book, you will come back to it refreshed and with new ideas
- Read some of the positive feedback you have got from beta readers and reviews. Even if only one person has enjoyed your book, that is one person more than none
- Be kind to yourself. If things are not going well or you are having a bad day, perhaps you need a break. You cannot write all the time, and sometimes you may not feel like it. I know I keep saying that it is really important to just turn up and develop a good writing habit, but it is also important not to set too high an expectation of yourself. Let yourself have a ‘bad writing day’ every once in a while. It is normal – there is nothing wrong with that. It does not make you a bad writer – it just makes you human!
What are your favorite tricks for staying motivated?
Best advice I’ve read all week on how to become more motivated and achieve long-term success.
I have been trying to make small changes in my life – as James suggests. For example, one of the best motivators for my writing has been keeping a success journal. Because I am mapping every small and large win on facebook, I can see I am making progress. It makes it more likely that I will turn up!
I also have a pedometer – perhaps I should start to use that more reliably?
How do you keep motivated? What habits do you want to modify? Try small changes and reward yourself when you keep it up.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
And speaking of romantic distractions, do you have problems with distractions when writing? It is very hard in the busy modern world to avoid them. I have some personal tricks which help me… (but you may have to be strict with yourself!)
- Find something stimulating to distract the children (I know screen-time is always enticing, but you might feel less guilty if its something more productive. My kids love lego, puzzles and board games too. Or perhaps quality time with some of their family and friends.
- Give yourself permission to have time off ‘busy-jobs’, Preferably, find a quiet room where there are no demanding creatures or gadgets (that includes cats, dogs, mobile phones, clocks, washing machines, irons, etc…)
- If you are writing into your computer, shut down your email, social media, everything that is not related to your writing. And even if you have author pages etc, shut them too. Set aside a separate time for promotion and social media – now is writing time!
- NO computer games. Not even as light relief. You know they will take over your attention. Just don’t even go there. Spend your ‘down time’ doing some research/background instead. Think about your characters, look for pictures on the internet that help to illustrate the people and places you are writing about. If you are feeling stuck in your story, think about another part of the book. Or write some notes and develop the plot on a separate document. Sometimes I do a timeline if I’m trying to keep track of who does what when, especially when I have books that are interrelated/part of a series. That sort of job is good when you are not feeling very inspired.
- If you are really stuck on the book you wanted to work on, start another book. Think about other ideas. I usually have at least 5 books I am working on at any one time. Some are set in the French revolution, another in contemporary Greece, another in Australia. Go where your mood takes you!
- Once you do have some ideas that you want to write down, nurture the flow and do all you can to avoid stalling. I have a special trick that has always worked well for me that I will share with you soon…
I hope some of these ideas for avoiding distractions resonate with you. Not everything will be relevant perhaps… I would love to know what works for you!
I especially like the flow chart in this post by Jane Friedman.
- If you want to write – just do it
- If you need to write – just do it
- If you can find lots of excuses why you shouldn’t be writing – ignore them
- If you are not sure you have what it takes – don’t worry, just do it!