How to Direct Your Dopamine to the Writing Gods

“Banquet of the Gods” by Joachim Wtewael (via Wikimedia)

How can you achieve your long-term writing goals while you’re drowning in a sea of short-term pleasures? I’m talking about social media notifications and TikTok cringe videos (so bad they’re funny to watch). They feel great, but they don’t contribute to your writing goals.

You probably want to create a writing business, publish books, build a profitable blog, or establish a long-term freelance writing career.

What Should I Do?

If you want to smash your writing goals and push through your distractions, you must direct your dopamine to the writing gods.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger. You may hear the term “dopamine detox” spread all over the internet. People have gone to the extremes abstaining from food and water to “reset” their dopamine.

Dopamine is often referred to as the pleasure chemical. Technically, it’s the motivator. It gives you the nudge saying, “Hey, try this. Did you like it? Let’s do it again.”

Be warned: dopamine doesn’t know what’s truly good for you. It just wants more of it. Dopamine can motivate you to do cocaine, excessive alcohol, and more junk food your body needs. A little extreme, but you get the picture.

You must train your chemical motivator to the right pleasure releases. How? Do the hard stuff first.

Eat the Frog

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Brian Tracy’s book Eat the Frog teaches you how to start the day with the most challenging tasks first before the easy ones. Checking e-mails in the morning is easy. Writing 1,000 words before sunrise is hard. Do the writing first.

If you have a planner in front of you, ask yourself: “What are the hardest tasks tied to my long-term goals?”

Your daily task might be pitching articles to five potential clients. If you land any of them, you’ll get the job and get paid (woohoo).

You could do social media and Netflix. It’s the weekend, you can worry about pitching Monday. Nope, you better pitch! Even if you don’t get any offers, it’s better than chasing after weekend instant gratifications.

My Sacrifice

A few weeks ago, I wanted to finish a short story, a romance. On top of it, I had my day job and other writing projects. I set myself on a dopamine detox from:

  • Scrolling through Tumblr
  • Playing games
  • Listening to music on YouTube (except binaural beats or nature sounds)

I reached my short story goal farther without the distractions.

A little detox won’t kill you. At the end of it, you’ll feel like a productive god.

Where is Your Dopamine GPS Leading You

Dopamine can lead you to many places if you don’t have it under control. They may be:

  • Binge-watching
  • Excessive sugar intake
  • Way too much video games
  • Hours of TV/YouTube
  • Alcohol
  • Pornography/ Masturbation
  • Constant E-Mail checking
  • Compiling items on your Amazon wishlists (weird, but true)

Direct your dopamine motivator to something within the writing realm:

  • Blogging
  • Fiction writing
  • Journaling
  • Reading Medium articles
  • Reading subjects you often write about
  • Taking online courses related to your writing goals
  • Exercise (gives you an extra boost to write more)

I get it; it’s going to be hard at first. When I was writing my short story, my body was screaming for video games. As much as I love gaming, writing comes first.

Master your mind, and you’ll master your world.


It’s okay to treat yourself to a drink with your friends or a season of Twin Peaks, but not so much you delay your writing goals. Don’t complain about your current circumstances while you’re watching The Big Bang Theory reruns for the 400th time.

Direct your dopamine in the right path, the one leading to the long-term rewards

Your books aren’t going to sell if they don’t exist. Clients are not going to beg for your writing expertise if you’ve never shown them your skills.

The writing gods will only grant your writing wishes if you pivot your dopamine their way.

Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

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