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Inspiring Creativity

The Reward Approach to Getting Creatively Unstuck

Reflecting in Personal Truth and Honesty

By Rick Benzel | Updated September 1, 2018

The Reward Approach can be an effective method to get out of stuckness when the creativity-halting goo is thin and leaves you with a sense of power over your situation. This approach requires you to be brutally honest with yourself in evaluating whether your stuckness reflects factors that you can control — if you truly wanted to. For example, we all experience times when we simply don't want to get to work; we would rather watch TV or go for a walk than feel the pain of writing, painting, or practicing our instrument.

But in these types of situations, if you are truthful with yourself and are able to admit that the problem has more to do with your own negative attitude or your laziness, you might realize that this is the right time to adopt the Reward Approach. As the name implies, you simply offer yourself a reward for committing to get your work done or for achieving certain milestones along the way to total completion.

For example, you might make a contract with yourself that for every chapter you complete on your novel, you will allow yourself a nice dinner at one of your favorite restaurants, and you won't go to that restaurant unless you do complete the chapter. Other rewards could be buying yourself a desired piece of clothing, or a night out, or that new electronic device you desire.

So many of us are not good at abiding by contracts we make with ourselves. It is easy to tell yourself, "I know I said I was going to work tonight, but I'm just too tired." The problem is, of course, if you let yourself off the hook day in and day out, you accomplish very little towards your creative goals. You thus must find a new way to abide by your self-made contract. That is where the rewards come in.

In general, the more meaningful the reward, the more success you will have in fulfilling your commitment.

Next: The Hero Approach

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