Rewards, deadlines, and motivation

March 21, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: My love-hate relationship with deadlines

Yesterday I told my wife that I need to start writing more short stories. She promptly responded that I should give her one each week and in return I would get, da-da-da-da, “the red plate”. Now the motivational aspect of the red plate is a curious thing. I can’t say why I am so covetous of it, but it holds some mystical allure for me. Growing up, whenever any of us kids did something worthy of praise like getting good grades or making a sports team we would get “the red plate.” It was a big deal. I don’t know why, it just was. So when I got married, my wife and I were given a red plate of our own, with which she can motivate me cheaply.

Really though, the red plate was just icing on the cake. One short story a week? That sounds nigh impossible. Challenge accepted.

I am about as deadline-driven as a person could be. I work harder and faster when I’m under a deadline and I think the quality of my work also improves as well. I work in a deadline-driven business (video production) and I often wonder whether I like my job because it’s deadline-driven or whether I am deadline-driven because video production made me that way. When I have almost more projects at work than I can handle, all with impending deadlines, I crank stuff out like there’s no tomorrow.

Of course there’s a delicate balance to strike because at some point too much work just starts feeling like too much work and I’ve talked before about how understanding the Three Stooges Syndrome has impacted my life (thank you Simpsons), but an impending deadline on a project where I have a lot of flexibility in meeting my goals is a recipe for success, especially when coupled with red plate goodness (and a happy wife). Coming at the tail end of three months of drifting with my writing in a boatload of half-finished stories, such clear direction is bliss. I feel so motivated that I even took the time to write a blog post!

There’s no deep insight here beyond simply being grateful for motivation and an insightful wife to encourage me and hold me accountable. Sometimes I get so stuck in my own head that I forget that all you have to do to be a writer is write.

As an aside: thank you to everyone who has let me know that you’ve missed my blogging the past couple months. It really has meant a lot and been more good encouragement for me.

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§ 5 Responses to Rewards, deadlines, and motivation

  • cdaniellew says:

    I grew up getting to use that same red plate only on birthdays. My mom always made sure to let us know that it wasn’t because we were only special on birthdays, but because it wouldn’t be fair to only give it to one of us since my 3 siblings and I were all so special 😉

    Sometimes the “simple” motivation is the most heartfelt and therefore the most effective!

  • alyssa says:

    Cheap motivation for husbands! So far my “red plate” is “ice-cream” but a red plate is a much healthier alternative. Knowing my husband, he’ll put ice-cream ON the red plate.
    Maybe it’s because spring has sprung, but I feel like now’s the time to get moving, get writing, get GOING on whatever it is I’ve been avoiding. This is a perfect kick-start post.
    And welcome back!

  • michelleannharvey says:

    I didn’t realize the red plate was such a big tradition. My family had one – when I was younger we took turns eating off it, and when it was your turn then everyone had to say something nice about you or say thank you for something you did that week.

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