The Motivating Effects of New Toys & Money Spent

After I got into distance running, I learned various ways to motivate myself to get out there and pound the pavement.  One surprising motivator I found was money.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve never had ANY chance to run a race fast enough to win any cash.  In fact, there have been races in which I should have paid any spectators who had to witness the horrible expressions on my face as I entered mile 12 of a half-marathon.  The monetary motivation I’m talking about is the money I’ve already spent.  I’ve found that if I shelled out $100 on a pair of running shoes or a GPS watch, I’m more likely to run.  Additionally, once I pay anywhere from $50 to $100 to register for a race, you can be damn sure I’m running that sucker!  Lately, I’ve discovered the same motivation has been helpful with my writing.

A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Not Creating Guilt-filled Motivation

A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Not Creating Guilt-filled Motivation

I’m not a real “gadget” person.  I’m usually content with any device that is simple and works.  My running watch is about ten models old and is about the size of Captain America’s shield.

Not a user-friendly running watch

Not a user-friendly running watch

I don’t use any heart rate monitors or dive into any software that calculates my optimal stride length or calorie intake.  When I write novels, I open up Microsoft Word and type away while marveling at how many of my sentences become underlined with green for poor grammar or in blood for my atrocious spelling.  It’s a simple program that has been around forever, which is fine with me.  I simply buy what works and stick with it until it dies.  This is what happened a few weeks ago when my computer died.

I’ve become a MAC guy, just because I like the way the keyboard functions and the laptop I owned fit perfectly on my lap.  However, the MAC started crashing and randomly shutting down so I decided to purchase a Microsoft Surface Pro.  Even though I got the Surface Pro 3 instead of the more up-to-date Surface Pro 4, the tablet/laptop was still expensive.  I shelled out quite a bit of money for a device that I would mostly use for nothing more than writing.  What I discovered (other than the fact I LOVE the Surface Pro 3) is that I was motivated to write more in order to get my money’s worth out of the device.  I know.  It’s totally illogical.  The money has been spent and will remain so whether I write one novel or ten novels on the thing.  The money is history.  Gone.  Devoured by the teeth of consumerism.  Buried up on (Re)Boot Hill.  It’s not coming back.

Yet, I have been writing like a madman because of my new toy.  It’s like I bought a new pair of running shoes, a modern GPS watch, and paid a $100 race entry fee all at the same time.  I’m motivated.  I’m fanatical.  I’m not cursing at a frozen monitor while praying my last three pages can be recovered.  It’s exhilarating!

Then, I remember how many great runners have run races in shoes that were little more than pieces of Paper Mache bound together by stitching.

I remember how many amazing writers constructed masterpieces with old pencils and scraps of paper.

I remember and I feel inadequate.


But, then I take the keyboard off of my Surface Pro and use it as a tablet.  Seriously, the thing is freaking AWESOME!  You couldn’t do that with a quill dipped in ink and some tattered sheets of parchment!    

What motivates you?  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.


An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.



In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover




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