Tequila and Cookies: Writing Perks to Push Your Pages

Cookies
photo by Charlie Wrenn

As I sat hunched in my dank writing grotto, and tried to figure out a way to move my mouse so that the 40-pound chains that kept me at my desk wouldn’t rattle so, I pondered the rewards of writing. No, no, not those tinhorn rewards like a Booker or a Pulitzer or a Nobel, where you are forced to podium-prattle about authorial intention while you die inside over errant exposure of your nose hairs to the functionaries seated below. No, too tedious those rewards—I turned them all down, a polite click on the phone.

The rewards in question are the spurs, the goads, the carrotiest of carrots: the in medias res rewards you give (or deny) yourself while you are writing, or after a writing bridge has been crossed. The system of checks and pizzas, er, balances, by which you induce yourself to squeeze out another chapped chapter or even a single soggy sentence. What are those rewards? Do they work? (And does this punctuation mark make me look fat?)

Cauterize Your Writing Wounds
Don’t start with me that the writing is its own reward. Downy thoughts those, but we all know that writing is a disemboweling, by ravening wolverines wielding jagged scalpels. So let’s discuss how to cauterize those wounds, but with sugar, not fire. Perhaps all it takes is a physical shift:

• Conventional rewards are labeled unhealthy, so after you’ve mapped out a stirring scene, you might take a yoga break. Wait, a YOGA break? Sheesh, if that’s a reward, bring me some annual reports to edit, with frosting.

• What about even-steven: finish a chapter, finish a cookie. But if you’re chapter-quick, that’s a lot of cookies. And will the cookie lose its savor and become two cookies? That could slide to sloppy excess: Finish a good sentence—tequila shooters, all around!

• Go old school, and turn to Whitman: issue a resounding barbaric yawp to celebrate yourself. But don’t frighten the cat. (Writers should have cats; if you don’t have one, you can check one out from the library.)

• You could avoid all these calories and the caterwauling, and maybe take a Twitter break. But is that a real reward, anyway? (Plus, one hears that Twitter causes loss of focus and unfitness for complex sentence building.) Not sure. Don’t know. Yep.

The Tortuous Self-Negotiation
Writing can be a tortuous negotiation with yourself; it’s so rare for a writer’s inner critic to say, “Man, I nailed it this time. Franzen, step back!” Instead we often have the reaction I had when I recently finished a novel: Man, I’m glad that’s over. But that’s ending things not with a yawp, but a whimper, to borrow from T.S. Eliot. Besides, it’s never really over, is it?

The old Catholic in me feels guilty about rewards. But it’s not natural for me to turn to the Good Book for solace, unless perhaps it’s one from Henry Miller, who could ride exuberance’s horse not until it was tired, but was ecstatic. Henry probably didn’t trouble himself about whether he should dole out little rewards to himself for writing; he was too busy typing away.

Maybe I have it all wrong: maybe the writing is its own reward. I’ve always liked this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, “My own happiness in the past often approached such an ecstasy that I could not share it even with the person dearest to me but had to walk it away in quiet streets and lanes with only fragments of it to distill into little lines in books … ”

There it sounds as though the highest happiness is expressed in those dancing little lines. Of course, when you know the context of the quote, from Fitzgerald’s extended essay on his own descent into despair in “The Crack-up,” perhaps the reward example is ambiguous.

Who Trusts a Happy Writer?
I don’t trust those happy writers anyway. Writing still feels like work to me, grunting when you move around a paragraph, probably because it’s built like a stack of sliding bricks rather than the gossamer wings you intended. So do reward yourself when you get a good set of bricks in place. If tequila and cookies makes you toss your cookies, make your reward a brisk walk, a cheery call to your mother, the purchase of a 39-acre estate in the Hamptons. (I so hoped to be born the scion of a dynastic family, but I comfort myself by knowing all that scionizing must be quite tiring.)

Give yourself a little something after you turn a corner in your writing, and you’ll be able to hit the gas for those long writing roads that lie ahead.

So, what’ll it be, WU? The tequila/cookie combo? Issuing your barbaric yawp from the teak rail of your Hamptons’ yacht? Shaving the cat? Let us know the flavors of your writerly rewards.

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About Tom Bentley

Tom Bentley is still trying to figure out what flavor of writer he is, but so far he’s a short story writer, novelist, essayist, travel writer, journalist, and business copywriter. He edits all that stuff too. His new book, Think Like a Writer: How to Write the Stories You See is available as an ebook on Amazon. His singing has been known to frighten the horses.

Comments

  1. says

    My breaks, Tom, are yard-centric. The writing cabin overlooks my vast estate (okay, a small yard) with a bird bath. First level of refreshment comes with raising my eyes over the monitor to watch the birds bathe…in the nude. It is supposed to be eye-rejuvinating from the myopia of screen staring. Level two is refilling the b’bath to keep ’em coming. Level three — the real break-sustaining commitment — is to go out and mow the lawn so the overgrowth doesn’t obscure said bath with tall clover. Then, and only then, can I do the serious focus that my soon-to-be-awarded Nobel in Literature demands.

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    • says

      Alex, I dig your winged retreating. My office is an old Airstream that’s butted up by an even older apricot tree, with a guava tree adjacent. Birds fly in and out of the trees, and I can spy their ever-fascinating antics through the windows—and these birds don’t even realize that they are nude. A short bird break is great.

      Mowing the lawn sounds like, uh, lots of fun too Alex. [Note to self: humor these crackpots.]

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    • says

      Well, now you’ve let the world know your little secret, Rhonda. I hope you don’t combine these habits with ripping around the neighborhood in your ’68 Camaro singing Revolutionary war tunes at the top of your lungs.

      (But if you do, please send me the video.)

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  2. says

    Loved the article and it rings so very true. Whenever I finish a story or post on FB or my blog, I lean back in my chair with a great deal of satisfaction that I have completed a writing task. It is hard sometimes with all that life and family throws at you. But as a writer, it is a task that must be undertaken. I usually reward myself with a bubbly bubble bath or a big, freshly made glazed doughnut, although my arteries and cholesterol levels are not in agreement with the devouring of a doughnut.

    Yes, writing can be its own reward, but to have tequila and cookies or a doughnut brings its own rewards. Think I’ll go have one now.

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    • says

      Lynn, bubble bath and glazed donuts: the mind glazes over at the glory of it. I LOVE donuts, as much as for their sugar-bomb satisfaction as for the fact that they drive tractors of terror through any carefully plowed fields of healthy eating you may have done for the week prior. But I rarely eat them, because in my yeoman youth, I could never stop at one. Or seven.

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  3. says

    This post cracks me up.

    “we all know that writing is a disemboweling, by ravening wolverines wielding jagged scalpels.”

    Ouch! So visual. So true.

    Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in my pain!

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    • says

      Yeah, J.H. writing: let’s see, today, should I perform a clenched-teeth pulling out from the rotting root cellar of my imagination paragraphs of prose that will only mock me for their lank reading on the actual page, or shall I play with the kittens?

      But we MUST pull the paragraphs. For we are writers. [Need a good Monty Python song here, but memory fails …]

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  4. says

    A tall icy glass of good ol’ Tennessee whiskey and sitting in the sun, letting my characters chatter to me. I like your “The old Catholic in me feels guilty about rewards,” Tom. I know that feeling well, hence the whiskey. Great post.

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    • says

      Well, Paula, you and I must be kin, because though I put tequila front and center in this screed, I’m much more of a whiskey guy. And speaking of Tennessee whiskey, I do own a little piece of land at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, bequeathed to me after I wrote them a zillion years ago and told them I brushed my teeth with their fine product. They even sent me a fancy deed to my property.

      Of course, the land is about one inch by one inch square, but that doesn’t deny me gentryhood. Shots of whiskey for everybody!

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    • says

      Andrea, I’m with you. I had such a bad sweet tooth when I was younger that I’d be the one to lick out that drawer of yours when it was empty. I’m WAY better than I used to be, because I don’t eat dessert after breakfast anymore—I wait a respectable period, until the 10am snack.

      I’m lucky that I work at home, because one of my pretty much daily rewards is some kind of stroll at lunch, so I don’t candyize myself into dirigible status. And the beach is only a few miles away.

      Hey, that reminds me: it’s the first day of summer! Whiskey for everyone! No, no, I meant, a nice stroll in the sun for everyone!

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  5. Kathy Daché says

    Tom
    Oh yeah, this rings so true! It “IS so rare for a writer’s inner critic to say, ‘man, I nailed it this time!’ ”
    Why do I keep asking that critic anything?
    Thanks for reminding me about Fitzgerald too. He had it worse than most of us.
    I can’t say that cookies are any relief to me. I need to go running.
    That’s where I’m off to now! Your post has given me new hope!
    But then, you don’t trust those happy writers anyway…
    Kathy Daché

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    • says

      Kathy, I have an ongoing argument with that inner critic. I really, really need to just say, “Oh, you again? Fine, fine, spew your trivial little bile and be over with it, I’m busy.”

      It is useless to engage with that crustacean, though I never fail.

      Sounds like you might be able to outrun him though…

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  6. says

    “The system of checks and pizzas, er, balances, by which you induce yourself to squeeze out another chapped chapter or even a single soggy sentence.” Love this! I think we all say that writing is its own reward because that’s how we wish we felt.

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  7. says

    You made me laugh. A lot. But my favorite is Twitter causing unfitness. Probably. Yep. That’s it.

    My reward for having slogged through a writing day: I get a pair of wire-cutters, and cut the wire bindings on my chest. I can sit on my screen porch and breathe deep breaths again. Oh, and with the damn constricting wires gone, I can more readily swallow from the pint glass of ale I take out there (IPA in summer, Porter in winter).

    Very entertaining, Tom! I missed your last post (until today) so I’ll now say: Welcome to WU!

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    • says

      Vaughn, I make the chest bindings less snug on the weekends, because, after all, it’s the weekend. I’m with you on the IPA. (I’m noticing a revealing trend here that I’m with everyone on their reward choice—no boundaries, sob!) Oh wait—I’m not that much for mowing lawns; thanks Alex.

      Vaughn, thanks for the welcome and I raise my that heady, summery glass back at you.

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    • says

      Loni, I noticed that your response was terse. I’m wondering if your typing remains all that orderly after all those rounds of tequila and cookies. You just didn’t want to let us see, did you?

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  8. says

    The end? Where’s The End? (She peers over her shoulder, wishing she could see it because maybe then she’d be able to find a New Beginning for the Next Best Thing. Which seems to be hiding.)

    Loved this post. Love your voice.

    My children have taken away the cookies and given their mama an elliptical torture machine instead. But at end of the day glass of Shiraz while I cook? Oh, yeah. (Even if it means no cookies or scones.)

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    • says

      Normandie, you didn’t get one of those ellipticals that has the little shelf on it so you can write WHILE you’re exercising, did you? I suppose that’s better than texting while driving. Really though, exercise breaks are a great way to let your mind turn into a banana smoothie (which it needs to do now and then).

      I’m always gratified (and amazed) that when I’m exercising, particularly riding my bike, solutions to writing problems often peddle themselves right into my head.

      By the way, I like Shiraz too. I draw the line at Jagermeister though.

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    • says

      I loved your comment and your voice. There are times when I’m not sure where the end should be, especially at chapter breaks.
      I think your writing must have a humorous bent to it, and your characters are all lively.

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  9. says

    Loved this. Hilarious. I have found that rewarding myself for a well-written sentence is the way to go. My drug — er… reward — of choice is a double vodka with a splash of lemonade. All that walking back and forth between the keyboard and the drinks is too tiring, though, so I generally try to drink my rewards first, and then clatter about on the keys.

    I’m off to check a cat out from the library post haste!

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    • says

      Jo, that lemonade is a fine way to get your vitamin C—the vodka, of course, is simply a delivery system.

      But make sure to carefully check that cat’s credentials at the library: sometimes you’ll get one that can’t spell to save its life.

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  10. says

    I was really glad to see another post by you — you have such fun with language. Your posts always make me smile.

    I use rewards for *during.* As in, you can only have this cookie if you are writing, and then the writing gets going and then [gulp] becomes its own reward.

    But, actually, I usually beat myself up into the chair — “stop thinking about writing and thinking about how you’re avoiding the writing. If you’re going to be torturing yourself anyway, do it while you are writing.” My brain responds to “avoidance of current pain” more than it does “the enticement of future pleasure.”

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    • says

      Natalie, I admire your system (even if you did arrive at it through some kind of labyrinthine dog-pony-and-cookie show). Really though, I think it’s great if you can understand what your motivator is, and use it, even if it requires tricking yourself. And if the tricked self even knows it’s being tricked, but accedes to the trickery, all the better.

      Thanks for the nice words. I do love language, heartless, cheap deceiver it might be. But also sometimes a bearer of light.

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  11. says

    I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my seat. With two kiddos home for the summer and a puppy to contend with, I have to reward myself after getting through editing a paragraph. Unfortunately, right now that reward might be switching over a load of laundry, emptying the dishwasher, or scraping a little more of the “popcorn” off the ceiling in the hallway. I think I prefer the “disemboweling, by ravening wolverines wielding jagged scalpels.”

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    • says

      Kim, you really do know how to party, don’t you? I’ll bet when you really let loose you go put the recycling out.

      But I get your point: sometimes the rewards are all relative. (So get your relatives to take care of those kids, the puppy and that “popcorn” (I won’t ask), and get thee to Cabo for the weekend.)

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    • says

      Tanya, I notice that you didn’t specify your particular motivation, however unspeakable it might be. Don’t worry: if you quickly tap the Shift key on your keyboard, nothing you type in reply will show except to me. So go ahead, your secret will be safe.

      (It will LOOK as though everyone can read it, but trust me—all the guys at the hardware store do.)

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  12. Cat Moleski says

    Not sure if this is a reward or a punishment, but two months ago I got a puppy and discovered that after a vigorous walk in the morning the puppy would sleep as long as I sat in my chair. But if I got up from my chair, the puppy would demand treats, and play, more walks, and chew everything. So I have learned to sit for much longer than I used to and my word count has gone up as a result.

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    • says

      Now what’s a person named Cat doing with a puppy? Will I have to send Animal Inquiry over to your house? I do think your method is clever though—you might want to up the ante by attaching a little string to your leg and the puppy’s leg too, so if you try to sneak away, you’re busted.

      Here’s to rising word counts!

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    • says

      Brian, yes, just getting the words out, even if many times they are nose-wrinkling curds, IS a big deal. You can poke at them with a pitchfork later to get them in line, but if you don’t get anything on the page, it screams its nullness back at you.

      I have so much damn trouble sometimes just getting something—fiction, nonfiction, the first ding-dang letter of any sentence—started.

      But just getting it going, even if it’s a drivel river, breaks the dam. Mop up later.

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  13. says

    “how to cauterize those wounds, but with sugar, not fire” –

    great fun read this morning, yeah some of those paragraphs can get pretty heavy to move around ;-)

    thanks so much, best wishes, and, many rewards ;-)

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  14. says

    Felipe, thanks, and may all your paragraphs today be light enough to toss around like bright new blossoms. Best wishes (and winning words) back at you.

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  15. says

    Have you heard of BJ Fogg from Stanford? He’s the present guru of habit formation and its intersection with technology. (He has a TED talk which is great, if you’re interested.)

    When he talks about forming the habit loop, “reward” can be as simple as an “I’m awesome” or “victory”, said in delighted tones. He says that there seems to be a significant higher rate of habit formation amongst those who permit themselves such tiny moments of self-aggrandizement.

    As for me, I hear the word “victory” and can’t help but picture Mary Catherine Gallagher from SNL…

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    • says

      Jan, I love the thought of shouting “victory!” I live vaguely out in the country, so I’ll only scare the bluejays. Any neighbors that might hear will only think I had a successful night cooking corn liquor in the backyard still.

      But yes, I think Prof. Fogg (gotta love his name) really is on to something. Writers can be so quick to say, “this is crap” of their stuff, rather than even a neutral “this is OK.” Which, as seems to be intimated by the good professor, is the self-aggrandizement that could prompt more writing, rather than more self-stabbing.

      Victory!

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    • says

      Oh, Jan, you are funny. If we get to be Mary Catherine Gallagher with arms raised in V for Victory, does that mean that most other times writing feels like when she can’t help but stick her fingers in her armpits and then smells them? Oh, the mental pictures I have now…

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  16. says

    Entertaining and had me giggling – especially cats from the library. We have two and one loves sleeping between my keyboard and monitor. Okay when she was a kitten – and she still thinks she is – but she now pushes keyboard (or finishes my sentances). Still she is entertainment/distraction.

    Otherwise have to make do with staring out at the view (of car) & birds to keep me going. But once I’ve done by daily toil/task/target/quota, I know I can chill in another world. I’m a closet gamer so that’s my end of work reward. Off to Hyboria tonight….

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    • says

      Roland, what IS it about cats that they love to lounge on a keyboard? Of course, they love to lounge on anything, but I had one that saw the keyboard as some kind of featherbed, and he would flop down on it like life could offer him no better nook. Of course, they all do it when you are writing, clever fiends.

      I don’t know what Hyboria is, but I hope the cats there have manners.

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      • says

        Better get this reply done quick – cat heading for my desk – better than the featherbed.

        Hyboria is the world that Robert E Howard created for Conan the Barbarian – book, then films and now a MMORPG. Domestic cats behave nice but their bigger brethren are more likely to try and tear you apart…..

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  17. says

    You had me laughing quite a bit here.
    My reward is that justice- no, wait- that Three Amigos. Oh, now I remember. Scotch and a comedy movie! I reward myself with booze and laughs.
    No cats, but I do have a dog that thinks he’s a cat! He likes to lounge on the arms and back of the couch. He’s one of those little dogs- but not the food kind. He’s a mix of something and something else- still not sure. Looks a little like a Black Lab with Downs Syndrome.
    Thanks for the morning laugh, great post!

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    • says

      Joseph, enough scotch can make any movie a comedy. “He’s one of those little dogs- but not the food kind.” – good one! Don’t take a bite of him after a few of those scotches though…

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  18. says

    Laughing! :D

    Since no one, I mean No One ever ever wants to be around the complete scary frenetic godawful chaotic YIPPEE YAI YO KAI YAI craziness that is me on tequila (it is banned from the little log house), I’ll go for vodka and cookies . . . .

    Now, on my way to the li-berry to check out a cat.

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  19. says

    Kathryn, there is something about tequila, isn’t there? Some booze makes everything soft and agreeable, but tequila makes you put on your drum majorette outfit from high school and go shoplift riding mowers from Walmart. (Please note: my majorette uniform still fits like a glove.)

    Hope your checked-out kitty goes with the color scheme of your office; have a good weekend!

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  20. Colleen Frerichs says

    Cookies and vodka – well I like them both! In fact they make a tasty combination. Love this post, and really love hearing that I am not alone in my love-hate relationship with my keyboard. Rewards. Mt. Dew. Because I take my sugar intravenously.

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    • says

      We do seem to be getting more votes for cookies and vodka over cookies and tequila. It’s so much more civilized, isn’t it?

      But Colleen, Mt. Dew? Isn’t that for skateboarding teenagers going down to the mall to get a Tasmanian devil tattooed on their whatzit?

      Though I hear it does go well with tequila.

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  21. says

    Tis funny how those catechism lessons and sermons stay with us years later!
    A walk usually works for me. Glass of white wine I will take over tequila! :)

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  22. says

    Oh those sermons and catechism do get you good. As a former altar boy, that’s why I turned to tequila. Well, really, bourbon.

    Walking’s one of my faves too; it’s funny how something so simple as going for a stroll (particularly in someplace good and green) can air out the head.

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  23. says

    Great post! Rewarding ourselves is something we can all understand. I have different levels of rewards.

    If I’ve had a productive day (especially if I’ve finished a chapter) I go outside and commune with Nature by pulling weeds, (No, not weed) or I clean the pool. I know, so much excitement. But I must say there is something Zen-like about watching the pool vacuum wander around the pool.

    There are two things I’ll treat myself to when I have a complete draft. (Yes, someday!) I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge waiting for me, or should I say mocking me. And the second is a pair of boots. There is a boot store in town that has wild and crazy boots. I’m going to saunter in and announce, “I’m a writer, dammit, and I want some boots!” When people wonder if I’m crazy, I’ll just say, “I’m a writer.” That’ll pretty much say it all.

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    • says

      Pulling weeds, eh VP? You definitely should get together with Alex above, for whom lawn mowing is ecstasy. You guys would have garden parties to die for. I do like the Zen sense you can get from some mindless pursuits though—I am a floor nitpicker like nobody’s nitpicking business. What’s more special than capturing a tiny but aggressively threatening nit on your carpet? (You guys probably think I’m joking about some of my own rewards, but laugh not.)

      Hey, champagne and boots? These are at the zenith of reward baubles. Go for it! (But certainly combine the two, so you can kick up those bootsy heels after a snootful of the bubbly.)

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  24. Suzanne Link says

    Thanks for the laugh. Although my friends and family keep telling me that they wish they could write, they definitely don’t understand how difficult it is. (Moving around paragraphs built like stacks of sliding bricks is very tricky indeed) But when it all comes together, it’s blissful.
    My treat: Can’t afford the acreage in the Hamptons … yet. Right now, just getting up from my chair, and away from my computer to spend some time with family and friends, in REAL conversation, is wonderful. I just hope they aren’t angry when I disappear again, back into my writing cave.
    I do like the Tequila idea. Maybe I’ll buy a bottle for that next victory!

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  25. says

    Yes, Suzanne, when the relatives give you a sympathetic nod in introducing you to friends as (sigh) “a writer,” you know you have arrived. The problem is that it’s still hard to pin down the address of that arrival.

    The good cheer with friends (away from the screaming screen) is a reward worth noting. I didn’t mention that one of my almost-daily rewards, if the day affords it, is to take a short nap—20-30 minutes— after lunch. I can feel my body’s anticipation at the joy of it sometimes.

    Of course, my typical lunch, say a bison’s head and a quart of peach schnapps, does impel one to the horizontal.

    Victory!

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  26. says

    The problem I have is that sometimes this slides into “pre-rewarding” myself. So I have a couple cookies now to ensure that I’ll write a chapter later…but then that chapter never materializes and my waistline expands! So I try not to explicitly reward myself for writing because my self-control can’t handle it. I do love that feeling of sitting back and looking at a finished draft! (For the half second before the “now I have to edit this thing” feeling sinks in…)

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    • says

      Nora, not sure about the “pre-rewarding.” I guess it’s a bit like those Academy Award nominees who know they aren’t going to win, but they have to write a speech JUST in case the favored nominee drops dead before the ceremony? (Hey, it could happen.)

      Come to think of it, I’ve probably pre-rewarded myself a thousand times for those literary awards that are just around the corner. But it must be one of Zeno’s Paradoxes for writers: always just around the corner, but for every halving of the distance to the prize, you’re still 10 cookies away. (You can see I’m not good at math.)

      But a finished draft? Savor that damn thing, at least for a moment, before any editing gravity pulls at you—you deserve it.

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  27. says

    I never thought about celebrating a ‘good writing day’. I waited until I finished the book. My husband and I went out to dinner. When I completed my 2nd novel and turned it over to my editor, I decided to take a week off before working on another novel. I have several “story starts”, but not one of them was talking to me, demanding to be written. It has now been 3 months and I’m still not doing any serious writing. My novel was edited and returned for my review and corrections. I’ve done those, changed chapter 1 more than once, trying to get it perfect. I’ve selected a list of agents to send it off to, but haven’t yet.
    It seems like I’m never going to have a good writing day again. Maybe I should have a vodka (don’t want tequila) and try writing half plastered. That might create my best writing day ever. Then I could celebrate again?

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    • says

      Connie, maybe I’m the Sagging Slacker of the Cosmos, but you taking a week off (that turned into a few months) before beginning your next novel after completing your second—dang. If no one else has done it, I’m giving you virtual pats on the back right now.

      You have to give yourself a little time to get the voices and gestures and heartbeats of the old characters out of your head before you can definitively move into air of the new novel, with all its new scents and winds and rufflings. At least that’s my excuse.

      Though I can nod in agreement at your saying it seems like you might not have a good writing day again, I’ll bet my plate of cookies (and toss in a case of tequila) that you will.

      Thanks for your earlier comment too.

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  28. says

    Great fun, Tom. And the comment banter, too.

    As for cats and art, I had a cat that felt compelled to contribute to my songwriting career by working the high notes. We penned a few tunes together, but A&R people found the work catatonic. (Sorry!) Eventually, to make more money, I turned to writing, because the odds of success are so much higher.

    Underneath, I appreciate having (yet again) to examine the how, what and why of doing and carrying on this ‘writing behavior;’ (it’s listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.) My technique of reward, when I can get it, is to tie things up just past the best passage, sentence or image and to make myself have to wait until tomorrow to find out what alcohol I wasn’t drinking to lead me to conclude so highly of the previous day’s work. The anticipation is thrilling.

    To reintroduce some clarity, I row on the lake and in the quiet, listen to my characters express their impatience with me at how slow I am to learn their Oscar-nominating qualities.

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    • says

      Well, Tom, I do think “The Plastered Pope and His Singing Cats” would make a fine lounge act, so I’m sorry you abandoned the pursuit prematurely. But your “walk away from the well slightly thirsty” prompt to pull you back into the next day’s writing waters is a good one.

      And it’s good you have characters expressing their impatience for you to get on with it. Just don’t let them get a grip on your credit cards.

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  29. says

    Rewards. For writing.

    I think maybe I’m confused.

    So, when we do the blood-spilling work of dumping our soul on the page, something GOOD is supposed to happen afterward?

    Until now, I’ve “rewarded” my writing efforts by pouring boiling water on my zipper and slapping myself silly until I could write again.

    And then, just when I was thinking about applying for a position as a sanitation engineer, the author of the finest book on writing I’ve ever read said to me “I think your concept is spot-on. There are numerous stories that could spring from it, but it’s universal and compelling when standing alone. Nice work.”

    So, keep the alcohol and sugar. When I write something, I show it to Best Beloved and she looks at me with That Look and says in all sincerity “I find EVERYTHING you do FASCINATING” and I think, that THAT, Resistance; in your FACE, Universe!

    Maybe I SHOULD drink more.

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  30. says

    Gosh Joel, I’d be fascinated to watch the boiling-zipper-slaphappy-act over and over again, but that’s just me. And many a sanitation engineer probably has a good (or good and dirty) novel tucked away. But the fact that you have a trusted partner in crime whose support energizes your writing efforts is a fine thing.

    Maybe you’ll even graduate to cooler zipper water; stranger things have happened.

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  31. says

    I have to admit that I read this only for the tequila. With that said, great post! Alas, I’m a happy writer. Nervous, full or neurosis, hard to be in the room with, pushy, but happy sitting alone. Editing? Yes, gets old. But now that I’ve been through two theses, I figure I can take it. What else is there to do? :)

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  32. says

    Well Elisabeth, I do hope you were able to get a contact high from the read. You might be better off if you print this post, finely grind it and mix it in a Manhattan. I forgive you for being a happy writer, but as you suggested about the theses edits, you can take it. (Check out Barbara O’Neal’s recent “Default: Story” post for an alternate—and persuasive—point of view on writing jollies.)

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