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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Writing Life Lessons: When All Else Fails, Use Chocolate

"When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile!"

"When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile!"

“Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.”

“When in doubt, just take the next small step.”

“You can get through anything if you stay put in today.”

These are lessons in Regina Brett’s article “45 Life Lessons and 5 to Grow On” published in The Plain Dealer, Columbus OH back in 2006. Apparently, the article is making the rounds again via email and blogs, which suggests Regina has struck a chord with a lot of people, so I thought I’d post comments from time to time on the lessons in her list that seem most apropos to writers struggling with resistance.

Now this next lesson may not seem to apply to writers at first glance, but believe me, you can apply this in your writing life.

“When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.”

There may be a superhero out there who can stand up to chocolate without weakening, but it’s not me. I have to agree with Regina completely on this. So I joyfully suggest that writers use this to our advantage.

If resistance is futile in the face of chocolate, then all we have to do is get chocolate on our side and the resistance we’ve been experiencing should disappear.

I’ll admit I’ve bribed myself with chocolate. It works. I buy two or three really good chocolates and I write down what I have to do to earn each piece. As soon as I complete the task, I get the chocolate. The tricky part is having the self-discipline to not eat the chocolate before I complete the task.

With chocolate on my side, the resistance to the task has always melted before my self-control or the chocolate did.

I can’t afford (the cash or the calories) to give myself chocolate for every task I accomplish. I keep chocolate in reserve for the really challenging tasks where my resistance is extremely high.  

What about you? Has chocolate or any other bribe gotten you past your resistance? What do you use to reward yourself? (Just in case I get enough chocolate someday and need to resort to another bribe/reward… Like that’s ever going to happen!)

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8 Comments on “Writing Life Lessons: When All Else Fails, Use Chocolate”

  1. Joel D Canfield August 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Do you know that dark chocolate, especially around 86% stuff, has very few calories?

    Listening to an interview with Charles Duhigg this morning where he recommended using chocolate to build habits. Since habits are trigger, action, reward, if we come up with a trigger for a desired habit, and then extrinsicly reward ourselves afterward with chocolate, we’ll move to instrinsic rewards and a new habit more quickly.


    • rosannebane August 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      Chocolate is a great reward! (Have you read the “When All Else Fails, Use Chocolate” post?) When you combine a reward with a behavior, the neurons wire together (Hebb’s Law: neurons that fire together, wire together). The more frequently you pair the reward with the behavior, the stronger the association and the stronger the habit. And the more exclusively you pair the reward with the behavior, the stronger the habit to the point of becoming a ritual. Since I’m not willing to eat chocolate only when I’m writing, I haven’t used it as my ritual flavor (that is, the sensory experience I give myself only when writing), but I do use it as a reward.


  2. Alice June 1, 2009 at 4:39 am #

    Roseanne, Thanks for doing this blog – Your emailings have been the “pushes” I’ve needed lately for getting back to my larger writing project, which I’d placed on a back burner somewhere, and then covered it up with lots of other less important activities. I am hereby promising to resist my “Submission Inhibition” and actually send it to the editor.


    • rosannebane June 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

      Good job recognizing how you resist your writing by burying it under other activities. And good for you for setting the intention to send your work out. What will you do to reward yourself for taking that action? Please write back and let us know what your reward will be. And please write again when you send your writing and yet again when you give yourself the reward. It will be motivating for you and for everyone else.


  3. Regina's Husband May 30, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    Please know that Regina Brett, author of 50 Life Lessons, is not 90 years old (don’t feel bad – that misinformation is all over the internet), but she is indeed wise. She is actually 52 years old; she is the senior metro columnist at The Plain Dealer (Ohio’s largest weekly newspaper); she was a finalist in both 2008 and 2009 for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary; and she has a book based on her 50 Life Lessons coming out in April of 2010. You can check out her website by going to http://www.reginabrett.com where you will see that all I’ve written here is true !! You can also read all of her past columns, including the columns nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, at http://www.cleveland.com/brett


    • rosannebane May 30, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

      Yes, I had noticed that the email that brought Regina to my attention said she was 90, but when I checked, it seemed that Regina was turning 50 in 2006. So, I concluded that either getting a lot of attention on the internet aged people amazingly fast or that we all need to check the facts and take what we read in email and blogs with a shakerful of salt…
      Thanks for commenting to clarify that and to give people a place to check more of Regina’s work. I always want to support my fellow writers!



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