Friday, April 8, 2011

Fess Up Friday: Instant vs. Delayed Gratification

I have a story in my head. I know how it begins, and how it ends. I know the central conflict in the belly of the story and I know the resolution, where it all comes out. But writing it all out, getting my protagonist from Point A to Point B is a different kinda tamale. I'm about two-thirds of the way in writing my YA novel, and while I should probably attack each new chapter with the same gusto Pac-Man has when he jumps the monsters after he has downed his immunity tablets, I sometimes look at the blank screen under the chapter heading with a sense of dread. That's where self-bargaining comes in. 

I strike a deal with myself: I give myself a prize if I can write say, 600 words in X amount of time. Twenty minutes later, after I've written one whole prepositional phrase, I talk myself into rewarding myself first.  Because I deserve the prize anyway. Because I work so hard. Because I change so many diapers. Because I  cook and clean for everyone. Because I even find time to work out. Because rewarding myself would give me the kick I need to fill up the page. So I claim my prize and I'm back at the laptop. Nothing.

Lesson learned: Instant gratification doesn't work for me.

Last week, I sat in front of the laptop for a couple of hours late into the night and churned out about 1,000 words. 

So Bob, what do I get?

The deep-from-the-gut announcer voice booms:

Put down that toothbrush and pack up your glasses case, Cynthia. Because you're about to  take a trip to yooooour........freezer and sink your choppers into a Häagen-Dazs Vanilla and Dark Chocolate Ice-Cream Bar...

...Aaaaand there's more. You will need to take the ice-cream bar with you when you head over toooooooooo......the TV where you can watch shows on your TiVo, such as:

Gossip Girl 
(Been waiting forever for the Dan and Blair kiss. TEAM DAIR, woot-woot!)

Family Guy
(Nothing like a good ol' Agatha Christie-style murder mystery to kick off this season)

aaaand..... 30 Rock 
(In this episode from a different season, Liz dreads going to her high school reunion to see the people she remembers picking on her. But at the party, everyone remembers Liz as the mean girl and bully. Which makes me think- how many of us recall a high school experience that's actually different than what it really was?)

All this is yours courtesy of delayed gratification. Continue writing like it's 1999 and come back for more prizes.

What a coincidence it is that the shows I like all feature a writer- Dan Humphrey, Brian Griffin, and Liz Lemon.

Writers, who are you like the most?
a. Delicate Dan
b. Brooding Brian
c. Lashing Liz
OR d. All of the above
For me, it's definitely ALL OF THE ABOVE.


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