The ability to self-motivate is a skill most writers need to cultivate. Staring out a window or glaring at a blinking cursor can hypnotize a writer right into a blank page coma. And while sharpening twenty pencils might help some well-known writers, how many of us are able to realize a rite from a distraction? So what’s a writer to do? Well, a few well-placed carrots or a series of self-imposed deadlines can activate a dead butt-in-the-chair a lot faster than the promise of a chunk of chocolate at the end of a writing session. Okay, maybe not if it’s dark chocolate but you get my drift. Like many writers I spent a number of years using contest deadlines as a means to getting words on the page. Nothing fuels a white heat draft more than an approaching contest deadline—except maybe a publishing house contract. Suddenly the words pour out across the page and characters who’d absolutely refused to come out before now dance and prance all the while spouting monologues and sharpening dialogue.