Treat Yourself

Long ago, researchers were studying how creatures react to reward. They learned that if you put a “reward station” in a rat’s cage and have a treat appear every time the rat pushes a button, the rat will push the button a lot at first, then taper off. Eventually, he’ll push the button only when he wants a treat and his desire for the treat seems to lessen over time. But if you have the reward station only produce a treat sometimes, and give nothing the rest of the time, the rat will actually push the button a lot more often and that frequency will never taper off.

The whole model of action/reward is one to consider as a writer, especially a new writer. If you can write things that aren’t necessarily your favorite type of writing to do, you may get more rewards than failures. How? How-to, actually. Say you write a lot of how-to pieces. If you’re able to sell them to magazines, and are having a much harder time selling your fiction, the publication experience with the how-to pieces can give you enough reward to pull you through those dark, rejection blues,.

This is something that can have value for any writer. If you’re getting the blues about the struggle to publish a picture book or the rough job of finishing a novel, why not consider taking a small break and doing a different type of piece? That will give you a treat at that reward station. You could write for a no-pay market or write an essay on your writing journey as you’ve been living it and consider one of the online markets for it. You could offer a guest blog post on writing to a writing site. During the tough times, these rewards can be enormously helpful to morale.

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