Raise your hand if life has gotten in the way of hitting the targets you set for writing your book, screenplay, album or blog.

Got it. After all, flat tires, sick kids and bossy bosses aren’t going to take care of themselves, right?

Now, raise your hand if you like prizes.

Me too! Scoring a free latte, concert tickets and from what I hear, a lottery jackpot, rocks!

Guess what?

Prizes are the key to winning a showdown between you and your writing project. Score! Except…

My clients, accountability partners and myself, have all wrestled with putting a prize on the line…even though we tend to win when we do. So, I investigated…

Why prizes suck

My sleuthing revealed 5 common reasons:

  • We overthink what to put on the line.
  • Some of us are motivated by penalties over prizes.
  • We believe the satisfaction of reaching our goal should be reward enough.
  • Some of us don’t collect our prize when we win.
  • Some of us cheat and cash in before earning it.

Shall we knock these out? Let’s do it!

1. Take out overthinking with a rapid fire list

Grab a piece of paper and pen and jot down as many prize options you can think of for…

  • A field-trip (ex. art store, museum, coffee shop)
  • A date night (ex. dinner, movie, comedy show)
  • A splurge (ex. book, popcorn flick, video game, music, gadget, massage)
  • A treat (ex. favorite food, dessert, craft beer, gourmet coffee, wine)
  • Free time (ex. couch-time, brunch, happy hour with friends)
  • Events (ex. concerts, film releases, sports, exhibits, restaurant week)

Since I’m a die-hard Star Wars fan, I took advantage of The Force Awakens release to hit a blogging target.

And my accountability partner once put a date night with her husband on the line. Guess who checked in daily to make sure she won? (Psst. She’s married to him.)

2. Spar with a penalty

Not motivated by prizes? Been there.

Grab that pen and paper and let’s brainstorm some penalties:

  • A chore you’ve been avoiding (ex. housework, yard work, digital file sort)
  • An activity your significant other loves, but you don’t.
  • Cash (ex. donation to a charity or political party you don’t support).
  • Giving up a ritual or treat (ex. morning joe, dessert, social media).
  • Skipping an activity you love (ex. morning walk, book club, pickup game of hoops)

I recently put skipping rock climbing on the line as an incentive to hit a tough writing milestone. It worked. I didn’t want to disappoint my climbing partner or miss my go-to stress reliever for a week.

3. Dodge the “satisfaction is enough” sucker punch 

In an ideal world the satisfaction of finishing our memoirs, songbooks and comedy routines would motivate us to knock out a million words a day.

Would that mean no Stanley Cup for hockey players, gold medals for Olympians or mirror ball trophies for dancing celebrities?

Doesn’t matter because we live in the real world where…

Satisfaction won’t protect us from a 14-hour workday smackdown. Or the uppercut delivered by a broken water heater. Or the pounding a missed alarm or low energy day throws down.

But, our precious prize can fuel our resolve to fight back when life happens.

4 & 5. Block urges to cheat or cash in your prize early with a game

To help you knock out these last two AND test the prize strategy, let’s turn the classic playground game of tag on its head.

How to play T.A.G. (Target. Announce. Game-time.)

Pick a project and…

  1. Set a target and a prize. (ex. 100 new words before breakfast, 30 minute revision or research sessions)
  2. Announce it to a confidant – friend, co-worker, roommate, family member –  who won’t let you cheat OR will ensure you collect your prize when you win.
  3. Commit to game-time parameters. (ex. 1 day, 7 days straight, 10 times in a month)

You win TAG if you hit your target on all the game-days you commit to.

How about a quick example?

I’m convinced I could survive longer without oxygen than coffee. So, imagine if I put a week’s worth of my magic bean juice on the line. And commit to writing 100 words a day for 7-day straight while it’s brewing. Do you think I’d hit my target?

You betcha. AND…without cheating. Because I’d announce it to my accountability partner.

See how a prize is key to winning a showdown between you and your project?

Speaking of prizes…

What will you put on the line? Announce it in the comments section for a chance to win a Ditch The Block 7-day challenge. Your pick.

On that note…you’re it.

Block-ditching Resources:

A list of museums for your field-trip

A place to free write and track the words for your project

Write 50’s  Ditch The Block 7-Day Challenges

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