KRISTINA McBRIDE, author of THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES
"My bribery is simple and oh, so sweet - chocolate. I treat myself with something small after my daily writing session (think M&M's, Hershey Kisses, etc). When I hit a really major milestone, like submitting pages to my agent or editor, I splurge on a high-calorie treat, like ice cream. The triple-dipper Reese's Pieces sundae from Friendly's is a fave. Chocolate ice cream, of course. I'm always looking forward to the treat as I write.JENNA BLUM, author of THOSE WHO SAVE US and THE STORM CHASERS
As far as keeping myself on track with writing goals, I spend time writing (or revising, or journaling) every day. Weekends, holidays, and birthdays are often work days for me. This makes me sound like a masochist or something, but really, it's because I love the writing so much, I just feel compelled to do it. Unless, of course, I'm stuck. Then it's painful, but I'm dying to get myself to the other side, so I dig in even though it hurts."
Boston and Minnesota
"Sheer unadulterated fear of blowing a deadline. No, that's not true (although I do try to meet deadlines as a rule). When I'm working on a book, I don't really have a choice: I have to be writing it. I think about it all the time. The characters drag me around by the hair otherwise."CRYSTAL WILKINSON, author of WATER STREET and BLACKBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES
"I love, love, love the television and will watch anything--commercials, reality TV, talk shows--pretty much whatever is on so I have to cut off the television. Lately I've been watching the clock and give myself a treat every hour or so. Sometimes it's a glass of water, a snack, a 30 minute TV show, feeding the dog, FB. That activity is not allowed to take up more than 30 minutes before I return to my table."MATTHEW GOODMAN, author of THE SUN AND THE MOON: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
"I don't have any special 'tricks' that I employ to cajole myself into becoming more productive. I tend to write very slowly, and if I kept a regular word count I think I would start to get depressed. But here's a rule of thumb that I do keep in mind: If you write only a page a day, every single day, at the end of a year or so, you'll have yourself the draft of a manuscript."KRIS RIGGLE, author of THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED and REAL LIFE & LIARS
Grand Rapids, MI
"I set mini-deadlines for myself along the way to keep my mind focused. And I have at times bribed myself with chocolate! I also set a daily word count goal and I treat it just as seriously as any task I ever had during my day-job days. I treated writing as a job long before I was paid to do it."BETH HOFFMAN, author of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT
"To keep on track with my writing goals I work hard at not allowing myself to get stuck or sidetracked. But it's not all that easy! If the muse is off taking a bath, I don't panic or start mindlessly searching the web. I try to use that time to edit previously written chapters and to sharpen character sketches. Before long the muse returns and I'm back into full writing mode."BRAD RIDDELL, Screenwriter, AMERICAN PIE:BAND CAMP and ROAD TRIP II
Los Angeles, CA
"I give myself a shot of bourbon when I finish a draft, no matter what time of day it is! Aside from that, as I recently blogged, I raced a colleague to complete a script, and I meet Katrina on iChat most mornings to check in and build a little solidarity. It's 7:00 A.M. her time, so I offer no pity when she complains of being tired. (I meet with her because she is the most dedicated, driven, consistent and persistent writer I have ever come to know, and I SO need that mojo in my life right now.) When I'm on script, it really never leaves me. Writing is a full time job when you're on deadline, meaning it's with you 24-7, no matter what else you're doing. I like to reward myself with movies, exercise, video games -- anything that provides an escape from my brain. I also like to stop each day leaving a scene I know well or am excited to write as the first piece of business tomorrow. I stop short, so when I settle back in the next day, I can quickly build momentum. But most important to me of late, has been the support of my writer friends. Nothing beats the real and true support of your colleagues in arms."ELLEN BAKER, author of KEEPING THE HOUSE
"Chai tea is an effective bribe; sometimes, chocolate is required. But my main motivation is the work itself -- I love doing what I do, and if I didn't work hard at it, I'd have to do something else, work for someone else. So I show up every morning, even if I'm not in the mood. When a book starts to come together, to take its finished shape, that's the greatest possible reward -- no matter how much you tore your hair out over it along the way."ILIE RUBY, author of THE LANGUAGE OF TREES
"Yes, I allow myself the gift of watching a late night movie with my husband. If I don’t feel I’ve put in enough time that day, but I have done some good work, I’ll reward myself with a phone call to my best friend or my sister. Neither write and both know how to make me laugh until I have tears."KELLY O’CONNOR McNEES, author of THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
"Negative reinforcement. I have a word-count goal I try to meet every day. If I give up before I get there, I end up moping around feeling terrible; wanting to avoid that feeling is usually motivation enough to keep going. I have recently started using this software called Concentration that blocks websites during a set period of time (Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.). It kind of feels like the world is ending for the first five minutes. But then I get over it and really do get to work, amazingly. Distraction is our biggest challenge, I think. We are capable of a lot if we can just stay on task!"LESLEY KAGEN, author of WHISTLING IN THE DARK and TOMORROW RIVER
"Writing's hard, and can be painful and depleting, but...I think of it the same way I do a long-term relationship, say, a marriage. Their are ups and downs and crying and yelling and eating a whole chocolate cake when things aren't going well. But there's also this profound sense of joy when the words and I click. When I succeed in moving what's in my heart down to the page, it feels heady, like falling in love for the first time. To me, that's a damn good payoff. (I also go shopping every Friday afternoon and buy myself or somebody I love a little something as a reward for working my heinie off:)"EMILY GRAY TEDROWE, author of COMMUTERS
"My writing goals vary depending on what the current work is (revising a scene is different from generating a first draft, for example) but in general I try to shoot for 500 words a day. So checking my word count is probably my main “trick” to staying on track with the long-term goal of writing a novel. There have been times when I think, "all righty, let's pack it in now" but checking my word count (what, only 417?!) provides visual evidence that I could stand to stick it out a while longer. More often that not, going back to it leads to another surge of writing, and I end up with quite a bit more than 500 words."And here’s a bonus from Emily Gray Tedrowe...
"On this subject, I thought I’d mention a great resource for all of us: the Paris Review collection of interviews with writers: These used to be behind a pay wall but recently the entire archive was made available online—it’s a treasure trove of insight into process and routine. I find browsing around here truly inspirational. One other visual source I personally keep close to hand is Jill Krementz’s beautiful collection of photographs, The Writer’s Desk. John Updike, gazing out the window! Mona Simpson, feet up on the desk! These intimate portraits capture a lot of the beauty and mystery of what goes on at a writer’s desk…and then remind me it’s time to get back to work at my own. Katrina, thank you for including me! and I love the idea of a blog whose purpose is to inspire during these frozen days. Kind of like the literary version of paperwhites."
HUGE THANKS to the wonderful writers who participated here. I appreciate you taking some of your valuable writing time to help inspire others! Okay, everybody…now go WRITE!