New reward system. Carrot, meet stick.

By Anita Garner

The younger me thought I could do a bunch of things at once.   This is not a great time to find out I’m no longer a good multi-tasker, if I ever was.  I’m working or thinking about working or talking about working on several projects at once.  My reward used to be seeing the check marks on a to do list.  Today I am the owner of a single-task mind and a check mark isn’t so exciting.

I’ve started a new book, need to revise (again) a book I’ve already finished, and working on a play which has been seen onstage, but the director and I both know it needs fixing.

I’ve been using the following reward system:  Write a scene.   Brew a fresh pot of coffee.  Work on the outline for the new book. Eat a candy bar. Open original manuscript file on the previous book and stare at it. Cheese and crackers.  Or pie. No matter how numerous and how caloric the rewards, the work’s still there.  Carrot, meet stick.

Eventually my coffee and sweets and cheese system will either produce something good and relatable and shiny or else I’ll be the roundest little writer in all the land.

*Sheep and carrot above from artist Gina Taylor, Cambridge, UK.  Here’s where to find more of her work.  Thanks, Gina, for letting your chubby sheep visit here.  If I don’t change my reward system soon, she may become my self-portrait.