Yesterday we showed you a site that rewards you once you’ve written a few hundred words. It’s a cute site and if you didn’t catch it then we really recommend that you go read yesterday’s post. It’ll be worth it.

However it does introduce a wider topic: should you be rewarding yourself for hitting a certain word count? And if you should be then what makes a good reward?

“Treat yo self” is such a popular mantra that it’s became a catchphrase and a stereotype of overindulgence. However there are psychological reasons why you should reward yourself with fun treats.

The writing habits that you form over NaNoWriMo should be fun. Sure you can struggle and push yourself through a month of writing sessions. But if you want to commit a long term writing routine then it needs to be enjoyable. Habits are formed by doing something every day until it becomes routine. It can be a routine chore or it can be a fun exercise. But it can’t be an unpleasant difficult task. You can force yourself through something that you don’t enjoy every single day, but you’ll never be able to make it part of your routine.

So if you want to continue writing after November then you need to make sure that you enjoy your NaNoWriMo schedule and the easiest way to do that is to reward yourself with treat after or throughout your writing sessions.

Maybe you’ve already made writing daily a part of your routine. Do you still need to treat yourself? Yes! Absolutely! Indulging yourself can make you feel rejuvenated, which in turn helps you avoid the dreaded burnout. Rewards can reduce stress and lift your mood so that it’s easier to stay in a creative mood and keep writing.

Alright, so now that we’ve decided you should be rewarding yourself, what sort of thing counts as a treat? How often should you be treating yourself?

Most of that depends on you and what suits your current situation. If your NaNoWriMo is going well then consider giving yourself some small reward at the end of each writing session. If you are struggling to meet your word count, then try rewarding yourself more often. Try to strike a balance. Obviously you want to avoid stopping after every single sentence.

The way that you treat yourself can vary. It doesn’t have to be the same reward every day. It depends on what you enjoy and what you would feel is a treat. Maybe you get a cookie every 500 words, or maybe you get a nice coffee every 400 words. The most important thing is to choose a reward that feels like a treat. You want to associate the pleasure of a reward with accomplishing a certain amount of writing.

Whatever you decide make sure that you avoid any reward that stops you from writing. You don’t get to stop writing every 100 words. Your treats should be something that you can enjoy briefly, or something that you can savour as you continue writing.

The point of the exercise is making a writing part of your routine: stopping writing can’t be your reward for writing. After all, someone trying to quit smoking wouldn’t reward themselves for a whole smoke-free day with a celebratory cigarette.

Have some fun!

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.