Why writers should plan for continuous small treats

Reading time: About 3 minutes

The idea of giving yourself continuous small treats might sound like an indulgence. But it’s not. It’s a writing strategy….

Do you regularly reward yourself as a writer?

I’m here to tell you that giving yourself treats, gifts or presents for your writing work is not only okay — it’s essential. When I suggest this to fellow writers, they sometimes look at me like I’m slightly deluded. But hear me out.

There are three main reasons why rewarding yourself is crucial:

  1. Bosses and clients rarely provide enough rewards. Sure, you’ll get paid for your work, but that’s just a basic exchange. You work; they pay you. Real rewards should be much more fun and celebratory!
  2. For long-form writers, like book authors, the rewards are often months or years away. If you’re writing a 70,000-word book, it’ll be a long time before you can hold a published copy in your hands.
  3. It’s easier to write when you’re happy with yourself. The business world knows that happy employees do better work, and writers need recognition too. But even if you’re a corporate writer, you’re unlikely to get recognized more than once a year, if that.

The solution? Reward yourself. As Irish novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch cleverly said, “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats, and if some of these can be inexpensive and quickly procured so much the better.”

Why you should celebrate small wins

Many writers believe they need to finish a big project before they can reward themselves. But I say poppycock! You’ll be much happier and more productive if you reward yourself for small wins along the way.

Consider treating yourself for:

  • Writing for just two minutes on a day when you didn’t feel like it.
  • Planning the first step for a new assignment on the same day you get it.
  • Making a phone call you’ve been putting off.
  • Organizing your files for a writing project.
  • Spending 15 minutes writing or editing.
  • Keeping away from distractions like social media or email for at least 30 minutes.
  • Reminding yourself that your only job is to produce a crappy first draft.

Ideas for inexpensive, no-calorie rewards

Now, you might think, “I can’t afford to reward myself so often!” or “I don’t want to consume extra calories.” Fear not. I’ve given you some suggestions before, but here are 25 more ideas for inexpensive, no-calorie treats you can lavish upon yourself:

  1. Enjoy a favourite cup of tea or coffee at home.
  2. Take a 20-minute nap under a cozy blanket.
  3. Browse the shelves at the library and curl up with a good book.
  4. Refresh yourself with a 20-minute walk in a nearby park.
  5. Relax with a bath or hot shower, and if it’s a bath, add Epsom salts for extra comfort.
  6. Read a chapter of a book or a magazine for 15–30 minutes.
  7. Watch a movie at the theatre or on a streaming service.
  8. Listen to an episode of a favourite podcast.
  9. Pamper your hands with lotion.
  10. Brighten your workspace with a small plant or inexpensive flowers.
  11. Spend time on a simple, enjoyable craft project.
  12. Choose a new, inspiring screensaver for your computer.
  13. Find or make a bookmark with a quote that motivates you.
  14. Declutter a small space, like a tabletop or drawer, for 10 minutes.
  15. Listen to a restorative piece of music on Spotify or NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. And dance to it, too.
  16. Play with a stress ball or fidget spinner.
  17. Engage your brain with a quick jigsaw or crossword puzzle.
  18. Write a card to a friend or family member. It doesn’t have to be long, but you should be sure to write it by hand.
  19. Blend a healthy homemade smoothie using a banana for sweetness, rather than sugar.
  20. Use a free or low-cost mindfulness app for a guided meditation.
  21. Take a short free online exercise class and stretch out your stress.
  22. Watch a funny YouTube video for five minutes. Henri Le Chat Noir is one of my favourites.
  23. Explore art and culture by taking a virtual tour of a museum or gallery.
  24. Enjoy doodling. If, like me, you think you have no artistic ability, understand that there are many different types of doodles, including word doodles. See more here.
  25. Go for a short scenic drive to get out of your office and clear your mind.

I know you’re probably going to tell me you already do some of these things. But the secret is to frame them as treats to yourself for your writing.

And do some of them every day. Maybe even several a day. It will help you be a better writer.


My video podcast last week addressed how to write for research journals. Go here to see the video or read the transcript, and you can also subscribe to my YouTube channel.


Need some help developing a better, more sustainable writing or editing routine? Learn about my three-month accountability program called Get It Done. There is turn-over each month, and priority will go to those who have applied first. You can go directly to the application form and you’ll hear back from me within 24 hours.


Have continuous small treats ever formed part of your writing strategy? We can all learn from each other, so please, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the “comments” section, below. And congratulations to Irene, the winner of this month’s book prize, for a comment on my May 7/24 blog about the value of writing routines. (Please send me your email address, Irene.) If you comment on today’s post (or any others) by June 30/24, I’ll put you in a draw for a digital copy of my first book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better. To leave your own comment, please scroll down to the section directly underneath the “related posts” links, below. Note that you don’t have to join the commenting software to post. See here to learn how to post as a guest. It’s easy!


Scroll to Top