“What do I have to do to get a reward?” This is what a reward can do to your creativity. Your focus could shift from creating with your writing to creating a way to get a reward. If a reward is given for completing something you love to do, then it is only a bonus to the joy. But if it is a way to coax you to do something you struggle with then it is the only reason to do it. The difference is, “Ha, fooled you! I loved it and I got a reward,” versus, “Fine, I’ll do it, but I want a whole sleeve of cookies after.” Which of these people do you think wrote something worth reading? Look, I LOVE me a sleeve of
cookies, but I want to have enjoyed the work too. Think of a chore you hate…got it? Ok, you know you have to do this horrible terrible chore no matter what. But now someone offers you a sleeve of cookies. You still have to do the chore you hate. The cookies will be great at the end, but I can guarantee you grumbled the entire time you completed the chore. The reward didn’t fix your dislike. It only gave you a snack at the end.
Giving me a sleeve of cookies to clean the floors will only make me complain that I have to clean the floors AND wait till the end to get the cookies. Grrr…I hate cleaning floors. If you offered me the cookies after a snuggly nap with the pups- BONUS! I get a nap AND cookies. Understand? Well, if I just confused the crap out of you then go grab your copy of Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane and join me on page 160 and we will figure it out together. You know the game by now. Pour a fresh cuppa, go find your kid’s Halloween stash, and settle in with me.
What?! Okay, let’s break this down in human speak. Rewards send the message that we know you don’t want to do whatever it is you must do but if you get it done you get a reward. It is a way of fooling yourself to get something done you don’t like. Basically, if you hate writing and force yourself to do it for a cookie, you need to reevaluate your desire to be a writer. I love to write. Do I struggle with it? Yes, but I still love it. The Tootsie Roll at the end is just a way to put a smile on my face for a job well done at the end. I like Tootsie Rolls, but they are not the only reason I write. What Ms. Bane is saying is, if the only reason you are doing something is for the reward at the end then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Loving the art of words. Creating a world for others to get lost in and characters they wish were real- that is the reward. That is the goal. If you are chasing a reward, then you need to take a step back and think about whether or not this is the goal worth pursuing. Reevaluating your goals is not a problem. Changing your focus is allowed. Loving what you do is the ultimate goal in life. Getting a reward should only be the icing on the multi-layered, chocolatey goodness, filled with candy and sprinkles cake. Be just as happy without the reward.