◎ Using Rewards during NaNoWriMo

October 20, 2012

The first few days of NaNoWriMo will cruise by. By sheer panic alone, you’ll meet (or even exceed!) your daily word count. The days that follow, however, will become more daunting and difficult. You’ll start to question your sanity and will even debate backing out of the challenge. Writing a novel in a month is a crazy goal anyway, you’ll tell yourself. At least I gave it a try. 

Stop, breathe, and set some rewards for yourself. I’m talking big rewards, small rewards, and everything in between. Incentivize yourself to finish. 

Small Rewards
When I say small rewards, I mean small rewards. Like, small as in getting up and cleaning or eating dinner or even doing the dishes. In fact, these aren’t even rewards; they’re more along the lines of “I’d rather be doing ANYTHING but writing right now.” Yes, you can get to that closet cleaning that never crossed your mind until today, but only after you write 500 more words. Actually, make that 750 words. And if you hit 1,000, maybe you can throw a cookie into the deal.

Medium Rewards
These rewards definitely fall under the category of “reward” moreso than the former. Medium rewards are earned when you set a difficult goal for yourself and surpass it, which can include things such as hitting 15,000 words, completing a 3,000 word day, or even getting 1.5x ahead of the suggested word count goal for a given day. These goals should be truly challenging, and the further along you are in the month, the larger the reward should be. For example, treat yourself to an ice cream cone outing after that 3,000 word day during the first week, buy yourself a new shirt if you pass the 15,000 word count on time/ahead of schedule, take a day off to do something fun after hitting 30,000 words, and hold a pizza party after reaching 45,000. You want your initial rewards to start small and become more desirable as the going gets tougher.

Large Reward
If 50,000 words of a first draft isn’t reward enough for completing NaNoWriMo, consider treating yourself to a coveted item if you emerge from the month triumphant. Be it a short weekend trip, that costly video game you’ve been lusting after, or a glass of pricey champagne, find something within your budget that will drive you to finish NaNoWriMo. Do NOT cave in and treat yourself to this reward early. (On that note, remember to make it something that you really, really want!)

Personally, the only rewards I use are the small rewards. My insane levels of competitiveness and the love of ass-kicking is reward and motivation enough for me to win NaNoWriMo. But hey; most people aren’t as competitive as I am, and that’s probably a good thing. It’s perfectly reasonable to treat yourself to some rewards throughout the month. After all, you’re partaking in a challenge that’s time-consuming, emotionally draining, and mentally demanding. Enjoy it, meet your goals, and reward yourself in whatever way you can for a job well done!

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