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Reinforcement & Punishment

I've been thinking a lot about reinforcement and punishment lately, mostly because it's the unit I'm reviewing for my licensing exam, and have realized that I don't pay much active attention to my own personal skill-building and behaviour modification. Reinforcement (in psychology) is when you add or remove anything from a situation that increases the desired behaviour whereas punishment (in psychology) is when you add or remove anything from a situation that decreases the desired beahviour. This is a little different than the social understanding of punishment, which tends to be "adding something unpleasant so the behaviour decreases."


It seems like there are some very self-disciplined people in the world, unless that's just the instagram effect, and I've struggled to know how to get there. My writing is a big one. After NaNoWriMo last year, I had all kinds of enthusiasm and plans and dreams for doing regular sprints for people - it seems like everyone wants to do sprints but no one asks or initiates them. And while I don't mind running them, I'm absolutely one of those externally-motivated people that requires someone else to be enthusiastic before I'll feel motivated to do something.


Sometimes accountability works for me, but it only goes so far. I managed to lose 20 lbs in university by going swimming 3 times a week with my roommate who was incredible at butt-kicking. She wouldn't let me skip unless I was ill. I think the only reason I didn't get resentful was because I knew she genuinely cared about me. We're still good friends. But someone being interested or curious or excited for me? That's magic.


The problem here is that I don't know how to drum up a cheering squad. I have a few ideas of things to write but because I feel like no one will be interested, I fail to even start my first drafts. My Vampire story (still needs a real name) seems to have fizzled for that reason, although I'm recognizing that I also allowed myself to get bogged down into editing before writing the next scene. My plan for this afternoon is to force myself to start a first draft of my latest idea, even if it bombs, and see what happens. I've had someone ask if we can do a sprint today, and it happens to line up well with my lunch break, so I'm going to try and leverage that.


I have also stopped attempting the regular writing prompts, which means I'm not doing any fluffy meaningless writing exercises and missing out on the little bit of interaction those used to give me. So I'm going to try and do those again, as kind of my bare minimum. Wish me luck?




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