Currently I’m working on a story for a speculative fiction anthology, and it’s not going well. Despite having (in my opinion), a great premise and great title – I’m finding it difficult to finish the story. It’s getting harder to find time to work on it, and when I do, I feel stuck or disenchanted with what I’ve written.
As part of my procrastination, I’ve been reading a book that delves into why we do things that aren’t in our best interests. Written by science writer, David DiSalvo, the book is titled What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite. In one chapter, he explains motivation and how public accountability, ie making a public commitment, can motivate you to achieve your goal. It’s often used by weight-loss companies as a strategy to help people lose weight. The idea is, you make a public announcement, maybe via a notice on a noticeboard or in front of a group. The motivation to reach the goal comes from the embarrassment you’ll feel if you don’t reach the goal.
I admit embarrassment is not a pleasant source of motivation. But after getting halfway through DiSalvo’s book I’ve come to realise what’s best for me isn’t always pleasant. However according to DiSalvo, research revealed great results for those who made a public commitment – even for people who are not easily influenced by the opinions of others.
In the past, making a public commitment hasn’t worked that well for me. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo twice. The first time, work swallowed all my free time, meaning I barely managed 10,000 words. The second time I wrote 30,000 words – well short of the requisite 50,000. I think what happens is I believe writing 50,000 words in a month is unachievable. Either that or I’m not particularly influenced by what others think of me and my writing capabilities.
This goal, though, is different to the NaNoWriMo goal. The word count (2,000-12,000) is achievable, I’m comfortable with the story’s structure and I’ve got a reasonable draft ready to be revised. I really want to send my short story off in time to be considered for the anthology, so I’ve decided to try public accountability as a motivator.
Here then, is my public commitment:
My speculative fiction short story is to be completed, proofread, formatted, tinkered with and finalised. On Wednesday the 26th of February, 2014, I will email the story off to the publisher.
Will my story be accepted for publication? After the 26th of February, it’s up to the editor. For me though, this time round, it’s all about the deadline.
What motivates you to meet your writing goals?
Have you shared your goals with your writing group or participated in NaNoWriMo?
Did being publicly accountable work for you?
Click here if you want to find out more about DiSalvo’s book.