Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gratification

**Want to know what a day in my life is like? Probably not, but go check out Sophia's blog anyway!


As a competitive athlete from a young age, I learned a lot about delayed gratification. Exercising is hard work. The summer before my sophomore year, I dragged myself out of bed at 6 a.m. for a four-hour early morning conditioning session, went home, napped, went back to the field for two hours of evening practice, then forced myself to take a 3-mile cool down jog once dusk set in. At times, I would come home so exhausted I didn't think I would be able to continue.

But I grew up a gymnast, and I knew that when soccer season finally rolled around, I would be glad that I put in the work I did. In a way, writing is similar. Sometimes I don't want to write (particularly when revisions are involved). There's this little voice inside my head, the voice that wants immediate gratification. This voice tells me to watch Grey's Anatomy or Pretty Little Liars instead of sitting my ass down to revise. This voice tells me to eat pizza and ice cream and french fries for dinner every single night, because I'm in college now and I DO WHAT I WANT. This voice tells me to stay home instead of dragging myself to the gym, because I'm tired, and I didn't sleep much last night, and I have homework to do.

My parents taught me to delay gratification. They taught me that I can do anything, but in order to do it, I have to be willing to work hard and let go of instant gratification in favor of long-term success. I credit them for my successes in life so far, because they nurtured my internal motivation rather than bribing me with external motivations. I don't get money for receiving good grades. My parents never bribed me to write, or practice my violin, or exercise. And when it comes to being a writer, internal motivation is key to success.

I think that's what we, as writers, need to learn. We need to be able to delay gratification. Writing won't always be fun, but even when it's not we need to force ourselves to write anyways. Instead of bemoaning the agony of revising, think about how good it will feel in three week's time when you have a brand new shiny manuscript.

So today, I'm going to the gym. I'm going to write. I'm going to eat healthy but still allow myself dessert :). I'm going to forget that little voice in my head and look at things from a long-term perspective.

What are you going to do?

6 comments:

  1. Hmmm...well, I spent my day at school, pretending that I don't have a recital in five days that I really need to practice for, fangirling about the video Alex Day sent me, and spending about ten minutes on the script I'm writing. I just spend the last hour watching a college presentation about My Little Pony, and I'm now rocking out to pony music in my bedroom.

    Productive day, yes?

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  2. You're so in my head today, Kate. That's exactly what I was thinking a few minutes ago. I gotta get moving, I gotta get up. Once I'm done for the day, I have my book to catch-up on. "No lazying about, Jack." Goes my little voice in my head!

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  3. writing is SO an exercise in delayed gratification. there is always this end goal in the distance, but writing requires total presence of mind and perseverance :)

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  4. Such wisdom in this post, Kate. Spot on. That need for gratification is often the undoing of the creative (and athletic) side of things. :)

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  5. Great post Kate! And I totally agree. Today I'm going to finish that 4 mile run, write at least a few hundred new words, and drink that green smoothie. Mmmm, green smoothie. It is hard work, but all worth it. =D

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  6. This is so inspiring, Kate. I totally agree with your philosophy, though it isn't a fun one. And even though it's a ton of hard work, I always try to remind myself that the journey is part of the reward. I need to enjoy the process, not just the shiny prize at the end.

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