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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.

Please Don’t Pay Me! (Why Write Part 2)


In my last post, I mentioned that I was always surprised that my students so rarely mentioned making money as a reason to write. But I just heard about several studies that may explain why money isn’t top of mind for my students.

The research demonstrates that if you offer money for doing a task that doesn’t require creativity, people’s performance improves, and the more money you offer, the better the performance. This is what you’d expect.

BUT the opposite is true for creative tasks. Offering an extrinsic reward for a creative task actually decreases performance.

Some researchers conclude that the only purpose of money is to meet a certain baseline that’s “enough money” to keep creative people from going to work for someone else. Above the baseline, money does not motivate and it actually makes people less creative.

Maybe money isn’t a motivator for writers. Maybe my suggestion that writers find ways to reward themselves is counterproductive. I have some theories I’m working out for my book and I need the perspective of as many writers as possible. Please respond to the poll or send a comment. Thanks!

Does money motivate you? Do any extrinsic rewards motivate you? What intrinsic rewards motivate you? Why do you write?

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