How to keep writing using rewards

Rewards to motivate your writing

Rewards and the habit loop

  • The cue sets up the routine. It’s a trigger to action — sometimes prompting behaviours you want to do, such a brushing your teeth, and other times triggering unwanted behaviours. For example, the tobacco, gambling and fast food sectors are masters at manipulating cues.
  • The routine is the behaviour — again, it can be wanted or unwanted, the point being it follows the cue automatically.
  • The reward embeds a routine. It taps into the reward circuitry of the brain to associate something pleasurable with the behaviour as you complete the first loop, making more likely you will re-do the loop in the future. As such, it is seen as a reinforcer that increases the probability the behaviour will happen again.

How to create rewards using celebrations

“When you find a celebration that works for you, and you do it immediately after a new behaviour, your brain repatterns to make that behaviour more automatic in the future.” BJ Fogg

How to find a celebration

  • Say something positive, for example ‘Yes!’ ‘Yay!’ ‘Awesome.’
  • Hum an upbeat song, think of a positive affirmation like ‘I got this.’
  • Move, clap your hands, nod your head, snap your fingers, do a dance.
  • Imagine fireworks going off, confetti falling around you, champagne corks popping.
  • Combine movement with words or music — out loud or imagined.

“But once you have created a habit, celebration is now optional. You don’t need to keep celebrating the same habit forever.” BJ Fogg

Incentives — using treats to reward your writing

The strategy of treats

“Because forming good habits can be draining, treats can play an important role. When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command-and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.” Gretchen Rubin

6 ways to create the perfect writing incentive

1. Power-up the effort, not the outcome

2. Make the reward fit the achievement

  • Warm glow: Get glowing with an instant celebration — a small movement, phrase, affirmation or humming a tune to make you feel pumped.
  • Fist bump: When you’ve just had a good writing session and feel pleased. Treat yourself with something inexpensive like a cuppa.
  • Woo-hoo!: Reserve this power-up for when you’ve hit a milestone in your writing, a celebratory cake or drink.
  • Hero: Now it’s time to party! Here you deserve a bigger reward — when you’ve smashed your goal in full. Book that holiday like I did and get a week in the sun.

3. Goldilocks your incentive

4. Personalise your power-up

5. Turn your procrastination into power ups

6. Punish yourself!

In summary: how to keep writing using rewards

  • create neural pathways to make routines more automatic
  • associate pleasure with writing which will keep us motivated long term
  • provide treats to get us started
  • act as an incentive to keep us writing
  • and help us acknowledge milestones and celebrate our progress.

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