Motivate Yourself with High-Risk Deadlines

Posted on September 19, 2011


I have no problem motivating myself to write every day, but I have the bad habit of skipping around between projects when I meet a difficult section and have no pressing deadline.  This is why I’m constantly thinking up tricks to give myself artificial deadlines for finishing projects.

For example, right now I’m motivating myself by refusing to shave until a book I’m writing is finished.  I’ve always hated having a beard, and every itchy day I feel motivated to focus my writing when I look in the mirror and see the definition of my incredible cheek bones eliminated by my lumberjack beard.  I feel even worse for my wife who married me for my looks and feels any attempts to purposely make myself less attractive are a clear violation of our marital terms.

My beard has not yet reached this length.

Here are some other ideas for higher-risk motivations to help you finish your novel:

Fill your office with bees and commit a friend not to let you out until you’ve passed the completed manuscript under the door.  Make sure you trust this friend because if your manuscript is any good, he might let the bees finish you off and claim the manuscript as his own.  Remember, if your manuscript turns out to be terrible, you can always defend yourself by explaining how hard it can be to create great art while covered in bees.

Place a hose through your office window and allow the room to fill with water as you race to finish writing before you drown.  One drawback to this motivational technique is how the water seems to influence your writing: “His wet eyes met her even soggier eyes as his heart flooded with the damp drippings of love.”  You’ll never win a Pulitzer with that drivel.

Some people recommend refusing to eat until the book is finished, but you’ll need some calories or you won’t have the energy to create your masterpiece, so every day limit yourself to no more than three cups of sand.

Drink a poison for which an antidote exists, but must be taken within 24 hours or a painful death will quickly follow, and your friend won’t allow you to take the antidote until your manuscript is finished.  Make sure the book can really be finished within 24 hours.  If you haven’t even started on your book, I assure you 24 hours is not enough time.  Be sure to estimate the time required before you take the poison because if you wait until after you take it, you may notice math becomes especially difficult.  Also breathing.

Tell yourself if you haven’t finished your book by a certain date, you’ll force yourself to watch the Twilight movies.  I know some of you have already watched the Twilight movies, but this time you have to watch them sober.

Promise a friend to pay back money you owe if you don’t complete your manuscript by a certain date.  Make sure this is a supportive friend who wants you to succeed and doesn’t continually try and distract you with harassment lawsuits like all my friends do.

If you try all of these motivational tactics and still can’t make yourself finish your book, there’s no need to feel guilty and beat yourself up because you’re probably dead.

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