alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


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How Do You Motivate Yourself?

I love office supplies: pens, paper, stationery, markers, stickers, index cards, post-its, notebooks, notepads, glue sticks, you name it. I have no idea what to do with half of this stuff, but put me in front of the office aisle in Target or, so help me, The Container Store and I am ready to sort, stack, bin, and pin everything in sight.

I like to think I don’t have a lot of consumer weaknesses. I don’t go in for tech toys, I get my books at the library, I’m old and I work at home so fashion isn’t much of an issue anymore. I used to have a thing for crockery and cooking tools, but they’re expensive and they take up so much space that I’m usually able to keep it under control. But office supplies–they’re little, and (relatively) cheap, and come in bright colors. The heart pounds, the knees weaken, the vision blurs, and the next thing I know my basket is full of sticky flags and paperclips in the shape of motor scooters, and I don’t even know what I *thought* I was going to do with the roll of neon pink masking tape dotted with wiener dogs.

My excuse? A few years back, Tony Ardizzone gave a talk about the writing life at the IU Writers Conference (a great conference, BTW w/ fantastic instructors). He advised aspiring and practicing writers to give themselves small rewards that are writing-related. He suggested things like a fancy notebook or a coffee cup that you really like. I think my colored folders and gel pens qualify. I may not actually use them while writing, but they’ll be on my desk, where I write, and they are associated with the space.

What about you? Do you reward yourself for practicing Butt in Chair? For number of words written? For stories submitted*? NaNoWriMo is coming up fast, and this year I am taking the plunge, so motivation is front and center in my mind. Part of me is pretty confident that I can write a novel. Certainly a zero draft. Another part of me thinks the first part is an overconfident fool. I think I’m going to need all the help I can get to meet my target word counts. And that just might mean periodic rewards in the shape of a chicken-shaped tape dispenser and skyscraper erasers:

Skyscraper erasers from seejanework.com

*As of tomorrow, I’m going to have 6 stories out on submission. This is a record for me, and I’m feeling really good about it.

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