Chocolate or The Whip?

October 10, 2007 at 10:31 am | Posted in Bria, goals, motivation, rewards, writing | 2 Comments

I am incredibly self-competitive. The thing that motivates me is usually an internal factor — even when it’s an external factor.For example, I don’t mind losing to someone who is genuinely better than I am.

In college one of my close study-buddies was a poet. We’ve all heard how bad my poetry skills are, so when dear old JB would get his beautiful A in a poetry seminar, I’d still revel in my B+ (I mean, I was bad, this B+ had to be a pity grade). . . But heaven forbid he beat me out in Shakespeare or a straight writing class. Not because I needed to compete with him, but because I needed to compete with myself and he was my measuring tool.

Even the sports I enjoy the most aren’t team sports — running, hiking, tennis, track. . .the idea that letting myself down or pushing myself further than a team can is a driving factor in all of these.

Maybe that’s why my temperament is a fine fit for writing.I set my goals as far out there a I think is slightly reasonable — and then I run at them.

To me, a goal is like a commitment I made to myself. I would never let down someone I cared about if I made a commitment to them, so why would it be ok to let myself down.

So, my rewards are dangling carrots, they’re special treats. Instead of say, “If I do . . . . by. . . I can have . . .” I’m more prone to saying, “Wow! Well done Bria. That book you wanted? Go get it, you did superb on your latest goal.”

Of course, the reverse is true as well. When I don’t make a goal, if I look at it and can see I missed it because of something controllable, I give my self a stern talking to.

Everyone’s reward is different, but whatever it is, it’s at the end of your path, not the path you feel you should be on because it works for so and so.

Writing is such a solitary endeavor, no matter how many writing buddies you have. Knowing your temperament and what drives you to succeed is crucial. If it’s competing with someone else, competing with yourself, making someone proud, proving to someone you can, hitting an external deadline. . . whatever it is that drives you, search for it, and then harnesses it.

Of course, CHOCOLATE works too. I’d love to hear how you reward yourself.

Go Write



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  1. Carrots don’t do it for me. I have to keep pushing myself. Chocolate always helps, but that’s a separate issue 😉

    I’ve been pushing myself this fall with the idea that I’m going to prove to myself that I can do this writing thing and I’m not going to give up on it this time. It’s interesting, I wrote a piece on perfectionism today on my blog and how in fighting it, I’m pushing myself harder to accomplish things while allowing my standards to relax slightly.

    Thanks for another great thought-provoking post, Bria!

  2. […] came across this post – Chocolate or Whip? – and thought it was worth sharing. I hope you find it interesting too and take the time to read […]

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