• Meghan Ward
  • [NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] How to Achieve Your Writing Goals for Just Pennies!
[NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] How to Achieve Your Writing Goals for Just Pennies!
Written by
Meghan Ward
January 2015
Written by
Meghan Ward
January 2015

If you're a typical writer, you made all kinds of New Year's resolutions this month:

"I will publish 3 articles in national magazines."

"I will complete the first draft of my novel."

"I will get an agent by June."

"I will get my memoir PUBLISHED this year!"

And if you're like me, you invent reward systems to help you attain your goals. I've tried everything, like:

1. Hired Martha Borst, a professional coach (who is wonderful)

2. Joined goals groups with biweekly meetings

3. Designed goal calendars with rewards for writing every day for a month

4. Mailed my girlfriend $1000 dollars and asked her to mail me back $100 for every month I completed my writing goals

5. Signed up to websites like Joe's Goals

None of them have worked. I'll promise myself a new laptop if I finish a draft of my book, but then my laptop will die and I'll be forced to buy a new one whether my book is done or not. I've tried rewarding myself with clothes, massages—you name it—but nothing really works. I'm like my five-year-old daughter, who said to me this morning, "I don't care if I can't watch TV. I'm not getting out of bed."

But something I tried this week IS working, and it's much cheaper than an iPad or a new pair of shoes. In fact, it costs just pennies. Real pennies. Fifty of them, to be exact.

I place a pile of pennies on my desk next to my computer, and for every page I write or edit (depending on my goal that day), I move one penny over to a new pile. At first it's discouraging as I see just one penny, two, maybe three in my new pile. But I keep working, and before I know it, I've got fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, and I'm seeing real progress toward my goal. The next morning, I slide the pennies back into original pile and begin again. It may seem like a Sisyphean task—starting over again every morning—but somehow it works. Seeing that pile of shiny copper discs pile up in front of me is more rewarding than real money, a new toy, or even the potential of that ever-elusive book contract. And it costs just pennies. In fact, it doesn't even have to be pennies. You could use marbles or paper clips or whatever you have lying around. The point is to view your progress in a tangible way. It works for me. Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you!

*Photo by Amanda Bui courtesy of Creative Commons

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  • Carson Gleberman

    I bought some lovely beads at a craft store and planned a choker-length necklace. Every day I met my writing goal, I added one bead. I read somewhere that the magic number of repetitions to make something is new habit is about 21, and there are about 35 beads in the necklace. I thought when I finished the necklace I would have writerly habits, and it would be easy after that. (I can hear you laughing, hopefully sympathetically.) Yes, I am still aspiring to writerly habits, but I did get a couple of draft chapters out of that month, plus a nice necklace.

  • Amy S. Peele

    I love this idea. I took a course long ago entitled the Psychology of Maximum Performance and it used this exact method to immediately reward your mind when you accomplish your small goals. I plan to count out 25 penny's today and putting them on my writing desk.


  • Mardith Louisell

    Nice idea. All the  other goals, even though they are rewards, seem more like hammers, hitting you over the hit with the fact they are still unclaimed. They sort of blame you by still sitting there, but the pennies happen, a little, a lot, whichever, no matter what.