Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Carrot or the Stick?

Which one motivates you? Some folks like reward, while others do better if they’re avoiding punishment. I always tended to be a stick person. I think it comes from too many years in the dance studio, where I, quite literally, got hit with a stick.

But I think I finally found a carrot.

My ego got a couple of bad kicks recently. Let’s just say that Lynn’s Best Week Ever was the complete opposite of mine. Presents contest—nope. Golden Heart—nope. A one-two punch that carried that extra-special kick of being happy for someone else while bemoaning my own bad luck.

(And yes, I am genuinely happy for Lynn and her amazing success. I’d be happier for me, of course, but I’m tickled for her. She’s worked really hard for this.)

So on Tuesday night, after no happy Golden Heart phone calls, I was a little blue. Me and a thousand other people, right? I couldn’t help it. Yes, it’s a crap shoot. Yes, I should be happy with the other successes I’ve had. Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. I wanted to final in the Golden Heart, dammit, and no amount of justifications would take away the disappointment of not doing so.

Maybe I was a slightly deeper shade of blue than I thought, 'cause I seemed to worry the Darling Geek just a bit. I guess it rolled over into Wednesday morning as I was getting ready to go to class—I’m subbing for an instructor at the local university while she’s out on maternity leave. DG finally called on Wednesday afternoon to check on me and make sure that I wasn’t going to give up writing forever. He was quite surprised to find me totally recovered from my funk and almost chipper.

Seems I found the cure to the non-finalling funk.

Three back-to-back classes of eye-rolling freshmen with attitude problems had reminded me how much I dislike teaching. I’d rather write than teach any day. And as long as DG is willing to support my writing habit, I can stay out of the classroom, and those students can roll their eyes at someone else. Volia! One carrot.

DG wants to make it a rule that from now on, I have to teach the day after any contest results are announced or any letters from editors are opened. Just to help me keep it all in perspective, you know.

I’ll probably still need the stick occasionally. Old habits die hard. So are you a stick person or a carrot person? And what’s your carrot?



Jen said...

Ah, eye-rolling freshmen would definitely do it. ;) I think I'm more of a stick motivated person unfortunately.

Rhonda Nelson said...

You know, I'm really not sure. Right now I'd say I'm more of a carrot person. (With $$ as the carrot. :-)

Angel said...

I think it depends on the time and circumstances. :)

Occassionally small things are the carrot, like something new or time to myself. Sometimes I need to be prodded with the stick, like a good ol' Playfriend challenge.


Smarty Pants said...

I think I'd have to say the stick. Public humiliation is especially motivating, which is why I do well in a challenge. There has to be pride and money involved for me to really crank it out.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hmm, I think I'm more stick than carrot. When I was in college, the prospect of losing money because of dropping a class always, always motivated to me to keep going. And to do my best so I never got less than that A I wanted. Once class starts, you typically can't drop without incurring stiff penalties. So I'd soldier on, bravely, with dollar signs in my eyes because I wasn't losing that money. :)

And I totally understand what you are saying, PC. :) When you work hard for something, it's disappointing to not get it yet AGAIN. I know you are happy for me, and I know you wish you had it too (not instead, but TOO). And that's normal.

Now, I want YOU to finish those rewrites and get your book back to London. Because, if I'm lucky enough to get a contract out of the HP win, I want a pal writing for them too! Instigator gets to discuss Blaze with Rhonda & Kelley whenever they meet up, so think of the fun we'd have discussing M&B. :)

Playground Monitor said...

I sure enjoy getting those envelopes from Dorchester Media, but since I work on speculation and generally have no deadlines to meet, I don't produce as much as I could. I'll probably be regretting my laziness when it's time to start paying for the rest of conference and wish there had been a stick.

I'm very happy for Lynn too. I didn't have a dog in either show. You can't final in the GH if you don't enter. And you can't enter if you don't write a book. And therein lies the rub. I see all the struggles you guys go through -- rejections, deadlines from hell, revisions -- and I think to myself "Self, is this what you really want for your life?" The short stories have no pressure behind them and I've been lucky enough to sell the majority of what I've submitted. So I find it difficult to spend time working on a book that probably won't sell when I could be working on a short story that probably would.

OTOH, that PRO pin looks very nice.



Instigator said...

I think I'm definitely a stick person. Give me a deadline with a penalty when I don't reach it and my butt kicks into high gear. Give me a reward at the end of the road and I'll ramble along until I eventually get there.


Maven LJ said...

I must be a carrot person. Approach me with a stick to make me do something and I will sit in the floor and refuse to do ANYTHING until you take that darn stick away. Do NOT hit me. Promise me new shoes, chocolate, and more new shoes. :-)

the verification word is hqypfomm, which sounds like some kind of spa mattress.

Kathy said...

I'm confused. I'm a stick person when it comes to getting things done for my kids, putting myself last. What am I doing wrong?

I'm a carrot person when it comes to doing things for my kids. Uh, wait a minute here. I see a pattern.

Homer Hickam said...

PC - The main thing to know, carrot or stick, is that you're going to succeed with your writing. Your determination is clear with every word and determination combined with perseverance is what's required. But have a clear goal in mind and study, study, and study again the novels you admire and figure out why they work. Then write one as good or better. Also make sure you are passionate about your characters and story. If you aren't, throw it all away and start over. It'll pay off.


terrio said...

Right now neither the carrot or the stick is working for me. I gave myself the goal of entering the GH this year so I'd finish the WIP but so far, it's not working.

And I beat myself up about all the fees and dues and the trips to conferences while I'm not really producing anything. That's not working either.

Is there a third option? LOL!

*waving a hello*
Kathy was nice enough to hop on our Pirate ship today and point me in this direction. Looks like I have yet another way to procrastinate. LOL!

Kathy said...

Yeah. I've been spending the morning over at Romance Writer's Revenge, formally YoHo, A Writer's Life for Me. What a cool blog!

I'm glad Terrio stopped by. Where's that stick? I'm expecting to be smacked over the hand for dallying all morning.

Kathy said...

Sweeney Todd! Sweeney Todd!

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I need both.. the stick when I am not doing it, and the reward when I am doing it. (Doing what is a private interpretation.)

(waggle eyebrows)