Writing Wednesday – Gold Star Motivation

Welcome back to Writing Wednesday! Today I’m talking about motivation.

I recently read a terrific book on this very subject, called Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Fight Writer’s Resistance by Roseanne Bane. In it, she explains why our brains get in our own way, how we can recognize our individual forms of resistance, and offers three simple habits to allow us to push through our blocks and get creative. The book was incredibly fascinating and I highly recommend it.

One of the strategies she mentions in the book is developing a reward system, and she describes how a client of hers used dollar store gold star stickers to give herself an immediate visual reward when she crossed off a bit of writing from her to-do list. Brilliant! As someone who benefits from accountability, but struggles to find ways to actually implement it, I really took to this idea. I picked up a few packs of sparkly stickers and drew a chart in my paper calendar where I could stick them.

But as Ruby recently pointed out, our best laid plans when it comes to organization don’t always come with the requisite follow through. Originally, I wanted to get a piece of poster board where I could hang this chart in my hallway and publicly shame myself into putting up the stickers (or not). I couldn’t find what I wanted at Office Depot, and settled for the calendar/planner method.

Which I used exactly once.

I’m not giving up on the gold star method of motivation. I just need a better way to showcase it so that I actually use it. And then it dawned on me – what better place than a public blog?

In the book, Roseanne Bane describes three habits we should be cultivating each week: Process, Self-Care, and Product Time. For each of these items, every week, we need to set aside and commit to time spent on each activity, and then track our results. She provides a number of handy charts to use, and encourages writers to check in with each other, either through existing critique groups or forming groups with others who use her method. 

When I put together my new weekly recap post, I considered adding these elements to it for my weekly check-in. Then I thought maybe I should use Writing Wednesday for those check-ins, but I had envisioned this feature being every other week. I’d like to start tracking the number of words I’m writing, as well as the time I’m spending on my writing, in order to better gauge my progress over time and to help me figure out the amount of time each week that I need in order to move my project(s) forward. Whether this needs to happen weekly or biweekly on the blog is up in the air.

For now, I’ll start conservatively, and leave my check-ins on Writing Wednesday every two weeks. I’ll discuss my progress, map out what I’d like to accomplish in the next two weeks, and record my numbers. If any other writers want to join me, feel free to post your own progress/numbers in the comments or on your own blogs.

Here’s my plan for the next two weeks. I’ll be back on the 17th to let you know how I did!


  • Commitment
    • 15 minutes per day, 3 days per week
  • Choices
    • Morning pages/journaling
    • Coloring books
    • Sketching/drawing


  • Commitment
    • 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week
  • Choices
    • Masters swim
    • Running
    • Bikram yoga

Product Time:

  • Commitment
    • 15 minutes per day, 3 days per week
  • Target tasks
    • Outline Hannah plot/beat sheet
    • Explore Sexy New Idea
    • Write Hannah catalyst scene




10 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday – Gold Star Motivation

  1. I may need to check this book out. I’ve been just *struggling* in the past year, I’m ashamed to say. Very ashamed. I like the idea of just writing for 15 minutes a day. That doesn’t sound too daunting.

    I do like the star sticker system. I do that with working out…ya’ know, when I work out.

    • The 15 minute thing really helps me. I almost always write longer than that, and it’s so much easier to fire up the laptop if I think it’s only for 15 minutes. It doesn’t feel as daunting or time consuming.

  2. I need the self-care part of this — well, all of it really, but I simply don’t make enough time for exercise. Making yourself accountable is a great way to get a leg up on making yourself do something. So good luck with your goals!

    • I liked that too. If I can incorporate my need to exercise into my writing goals, I won’t feel as guilty about exercising when I try to make myself think I should be writing instead. We can do both!

  3. Logan,
    Thanks for appreciating my book! Your commitments look good – enough of a stretch for a “Challenge Accepter” and do-able.
    Feel free to email me with a weekly check-in if you’d like. One student pointed out that one of the benefits of checking in weekly is that it gives her a fresh start each week.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by Roseanne! What an honor! It’s so generous of you to offer your time for weekly check-ins, too. Thanks for all you do to keep writers writing!

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