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About the site

A few years ago, when I stopped using the name “The Willpower Engine” for this site, I let my domain expire. That turned out to be a mistake: it develops that there were still a number of people using links to that domain, and some ill-intentioned person scooped up the domain as soon as it was available and set it up with a site that looked like it could be the right one, but full of terrible advice cribbed from anywhere they could find it, fueling sketchy advertisements.

As soon as I realized this, I did what I could to get the domain back, but I was unsuccessful until today, when finally points back to where it should. I apologize to anyone who may have found themselves on the scam site in the mean time.

The lesson, for me, is that retiring a domain, in some cases, is something that should only be done with great care and after the Internet has had a good long time to get used to the new location.

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Links, People! We Need Links!

About the site

I know I’m asking for it by posting here, but I just weeded my blogroll of blogs that are no longer providing regular posts of interest to readers here, and the remainder is woeful and sparse. What blogs do you know out there that consistently provide useful, reliable information on habits, goals, motivation, and willpower? Feel free to recommend your own blog, but only if you post regularly on that topic and are providing informational rather than mainly personal or reflective posts.

I may have to throw a few other blogs of great interest in there, too. As a matter of fact, I think I will. If you haven’t been to Mayaland or XKCD, I really should recommend them to you. If you’re in the target audience for either one, you’ll thank me.


Tweet and Facebook Like Buttons: Sometimes I’m a Little Slow

About the site

I only just realized that my site hasn’t had Tweet and Facebook Like buttons on it. I use such things on other people’s posts (like Tweets I put up recently about posts on Nathan Bransford‘s and Amanda Hocking‘s blogs re: Hocking’s huge eBook success) and was just assuming I had already gotten around to putting the tools up here. Oops.

If you have a blog and don’t mind if people spread the word, here’s a friendly reminder to not be like me and to put up those tools promptly. In case you use WordPress, the plugins I used were the WordPress Facebook Like Button and Tweet This.

On the subject of blogging, my friend Maya, who has a creative and interesting blog of her own (Mayaland), re-recommended the fun and cool Hyperbole and a Half blog today, and I wanted to pass on the favor.

UPDATE: Right around the time I posted this, the Jetpack plugin became available for users (people who, like me, host their own WordPress sites). If you install and activate Jetpack, you can then go into your Jetpack screen and turn on the free Sharedaddy feature, which provides much of the functionality I’m talking about here and more. As I like the way Sharedaddy works, I swapped that in and removed some other social networking tools from the site.

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Combining Sites: Please Do Not Adjust Your Set

About the site

Looking for the old site? Wondering why this site isn’t called The Willpower Engine any more? Expected to find yourself? Not quite sure that you’re on the right page? No fear! The merging of my writing site,, and my psychology of habits site, The Willpower Engine, has begun, and you have gotten caught in the middle of it. All the content from both sites is (or should be) available here on the new site, and the search feature should make it easy to find it if the tabs at the top of the page don’t do the trick.

If oxygen masks should drop down from your title bar, please double click on your own oxygen mask before double clicking on those of others. Remember that in case of an emergency, your task bar can be used as a flotation device. Thank you for flying Or the Willpower Engine. Or whatever it is you clicked on.

Honestly, it will all be sorted out soon.

Photo by patita pirata

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Something Completely Different: a New Direction for the Willpower Engine and ReidWrite

About the site

“I feel scattered,” I told my closest friend today when we were out walking on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont. I talked about my ongoing work on The Willpower Engine, my recently-released book of flash fiction, my wish that I had time to work on novels again, and other writing interests and aspirations.

photo by redjar

For well over two and a half years, I’ve blogged three to five times a week at the Willpower Engine about the psychology of motivation and habits. Since April of 2007, I’ve been blogging about writing sporadically at, although the ridiculously intrusive advertising LiveJournal has introduced over the last year or so has made me eager to move that blog somewhere else. These two blogs and the way they separate my blogging attention reflect a similar split in my writing focus: I’ve been doing fiction and non-fiction at the same time, and although I’ve prioritized my writing about the psychology of habits, my powerful interest in writing fiction has meant that it’s never been possible to really focus on only my Willpower Engine writing.

Another problem I’ve faced in going forward with my Willpower Engine writing is that I have no professional background I can point to that makes me an authority on the psychology of motivation. Yes, I’ve studied and written about the topic intensively for years (well before I ever started this blog), and I’ve kept up with a lot of the current psychological research. However, I don’t have a degree in psychology, I’m not a therapist, and I don’t have professional non-fiction writing credits in the area of psychology. I also don’t have experience running seminars or workshops on the subject. What all of this means is that I’m not enough of a recognized authority to have interested a publisher in the nonfiction book I’ve been working on, so even while the readership for the Willpower Engine site climbs week after week and as my understanding of the topic becomes deeper and wider, the aspiration I’ve had of placing the non-fiction book with a major publisher hasn’t gone anywhere.

I’ve also had trouble finding a proper voice for The Willpower Engine. I’m not a therapist and don’t want to sound like one, but I am trying to convey useful information in a way that is easy to understand and make use of without being too dry or abstract about it.

And with my attention tied up for years with the Willpower Engine project, I haven’t been putting any serious work into novels. I’ve seen many of my talented peers in the Codex writers group sell novels and land multi-book deals while my own fiction career has been limited almost entirely to flash fiction written for The Daily Cabal–although admittedly, I love writing flash fiction, and all of that writing has led to a new eBook release, my flash fiction collection called Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories (available at $2.99 from Amazon for the Kindle and from Smashwords for all eReaders).

So I’ve been doing a lot of work that I’m proud of, and I’ve been immensely grateful for everything I’ve learned so far about my own motivation and habits– but at the same time, I’ve been ignoring my own advice to take on only one major goal at a time. From my point of view, I felt as though I had no choice: I’m far too interested in the psychology of motivation to give up my Willpower Engine work, and writing fiction is far too important to me to give up either. What’s more, I’ve had major accomplishments in both areas, like the thousands of readers who come to this site and my Writers of the Future win with my fiction. How could I possibly stop doing either one? I can’t, that’s how. And yet splitting my attention is preventing me from moving forward.

But what emerged in my conversation with my friend (to finally get back to that) was the possibility of merging my interests, focusing my efforts on all of the things that are most important to me and none of the ones that aren’t central. Specifically, while not giving up the idea of writing nonfiction books sooner or later, I can focus on a novel–and my challenge with that novel can be to use what I’ve learned about the psychology of motivation so well that readers of the novel, while not being lectured or taught in any usual sense, come away knowing a lot more than they used to about the subject in ways that they can actually use in their lives. In other words, instead of explicitly offering information in the form of non-fiction, I can weave that knowledge into my fiction, in service to storytelling, and make a hell of a story that also carries some real-world knowledge. I have a real advantage here: very few fiction writers have spent years studying the scientific research on human motivation.

This idea made immediate and powerful sense to me, but I had reservations, especially about the Willpower Engine blog. I don’t by any means want to abandon it, and yet the amount of time and attention that goes into posting three articles a week on the psychology of motivation is too much of a drain to allow me to really focus on a novel. Even one post a week, a bare minimum in my mind for anything I would call “posting regularly,” would take too much attention away.

The solution to that problem is to allow the Willpower Engine to change. It already has hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics relating to goals, habits, emotions, self-confidence, and willpower. But instead of adding more such articles, I’m changing the focus of the blog to write about motivation and writing, motivation in my own life pertaining to my writing, and especially weaving psychological findings into my fiction. This new version of the blog will still have a lot to say about the psychology of habits and related subjects, and some posts may well be similar to ones I’ve posted on the Willpower Engine in the past. There will also, however, be posts on writing fiction, as I’ve posted periodically on my ReidWrite blog, as well as posts about trying to integrate what I’ve learned into my own life and my fiction.

The blog name will need to change: for one thing, it will incorporate both of the previous blogs, ReidWrite and The Willpower Engine. For another, it will have a different focus than either. But I’m not greatly worried about a new name for the blog just yet, or other technical concerns, like how I’ll arrange the content on the page. Instead, I’ll begin to prioritize questions like how I can sharpen my focus in life so that my non-writing endeavors are less scattered, on whether I should focus my career at present on young adult or adult novels, and on which of the many, many, many novel ideas I’ve developed over the past ten years I’ll choose for my new project–if indeed I don’t come up with something entirely new.

I think readers of ReidWrite will find much more of interest here for the foreseeable future. For regular readers of The Willpower Engine, I hope this announcement will not be discouraging. Of course I’m hoping that much of the new content of this blog will continue to be meaningful in those readers lives and to serve some of the same purposes my posts have in the past, but with the change in focus, I can’t imagine this will be the case for all Willpower Engine readers. For readers interested only in articles of the kind I’ve written on The Willpower Engine so far, I hope you’ll find much of use by delving into the 328 posts I’ve already put up on this site and more in some of the similar posts I’ll be doing from time to time in the future.

The new blog will not keep to a regular schedule, but for the immediate future I’ll certainly have a lot to post about, including using what I’ve learned about the psychology of motivation, choosing a novel project, developments in the electronic publishing world, findings from my eBook flash fiction experiment, and more.

To all readers, thank you very much for your support so far. I welcome your comments and ideas and hope you’ll find much to entertain, enlighten, and involve you on the new site.

Luc Reid
January 2, 2011

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Changing to Three Posts a Week

About the site

Since March of this year, I’ve been posting every weekday–a total of about a hundred posts without fail for every Monday through Friday from then until now. I’ve been greatly enjoying the chance to delve so deeply into the subject, but my original vision was of having shorter posts, and it turns out that the subjects I’ve been treating have generally deserved a little bit more attention than I could give in just 300-400 words: I’ve actually been writing pieces that on average are about twice as long! Unfortunately, I don’t have the available time to keep up this pace, at least not for now, without giving up on the ongoing work on the book or other important tasks.

So starting this week, I’m shifting back to a more modest, three-post-a-week schedule: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I am hoping that my schedule will allow me to go back to the every-weekday schedule in future, especially if I eventually have other regular contributors for the site who, like me, write about fact-based insights into the psychology of habits and motivation.

As always, your comments, ideas, suggestions, questions, and even complaints are welcome, whether in the comment area below or through the contact form on the right-hand side of this page.

See you tomorrow with a new post!

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One Year and 193 Posts Later …

About the site

A year ago yesterday I made my first Willpower Engine post, writing about the riddle my sister posed years ago when she seemed to develop formidable willpower out of nowhere. I think that was my first real clue that willpower was not something that a person just had or didn’t have, but rather something that could strengthened, grown, built on, activated, or energized. It wasn’t until the last few years, though, that I started doing book research and really began to understand how willpower actually works.

I started this blog thinking that there should be enough to post about for at least a few months, but what I’ve found is that the number of things a person can usefully know about willpower, self-motivation, habit-building, habit-breaking, goals, and organization–all of which I would suggest are different ways of looking at the same thing–is enormous. This seems kind of depressing at first, because you think to yourself “Are you kidding? I’ve got to get all this down before I get my willpower working?” Fortunately, it’s more like every different facet of willpower is a different kind of opportunity to seize, and any single one can make a real difference in our lives. We don’t have to learn every single tool that can possibly affect willpower (well, I’ve been doing my best to keep up with all of it, but that’s just because I’m trying to write about all of those tools): we just have to find a good set of tools that work for us personally.

The site and the posts have changed since the beginning: for a while there I was trying to make each post almost like a chapter of a book, with full and in-depth coverage of one specific thing. Over time I’ve learned to say less at once, to try to come in and make one specific point that might be able to stick with a person throughout the day instead of trying to cover every angle. I’ve also gone from posting a few times a week, whenever I thought of something to write about, to within a month posting on a regular schedule, first three days a week and more recently five. Sometimes I have a few posts ready in advance, while sometimes I finish the next day’s post just the night before. After a year, thinking and writing about habit has become a habit itself for me, and is almost always interesting and fun.

I’m very grateful to everyone who has come by to read The Willpower Engine so far, especially to those who have commented or gotten in touch, as well as to friends, family members, and visitors who have helped me refine and improve the site. I hope you’re getting at least a small part of the enormous pleasure and benefit from reading the site that I get from writing it for you.

You can find a complete list of Willpower Engine posts to date on the Complete Post Listing page at

Photo by benefit of hindsight

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Seeking Regular Contributors for The Willpower Engine

About the site

Lately I’ve been thinking how much fun it would be to enrich this site with material from one or two like-minded people who have useful information to share. If you’re interested in expanding your audience and especially in connecting with people who share your passion for improving their lives and mental resources, or if you know someone like that, please get in touch through the contact form to the right or through e-mail.

I’m mainly interested in potential contributors who have a specific focus that has to do with willpower, motivation, self-organization, or related self-improvement. That focus could any of a number of things, such as fitness, organization, writing, happiness, communication, relationships, decluttering, family dynamics, psychology, neurology, and so on. I’d love to have someone who would do a regular feature interviewing people (regular people or high-profile people) on subjects related to willpower.

To be a good fit, a contributor should be writing based on good scientific research, established practice, personal experience, interviews, or some other solid source of information; philosophical reflections (other than from professional philosophers) or off-the-cuff opinion pieces aren’t a good fit for the site.

There’s no pay (sorry!), but you can console yourself that I don’t make a cent from this site either. At the moment The Willpower Engine gets more than 800 views a week, so I can promise that you’d get good exposure to a new audience. Cross-posting to The Willpower Engine and your own site is fine. Posting would need to be on a regular schedule, but it could be anything from every other week to twice a week, depending on your preferences. Your bio and other information (bibliography, Web site links, etc.) would be on a new Contributors page.

By the way, I’m also open to writing posts for other sites in a similar arrangement or as a guest.

Any takers? Any suggestions for people who might be interested? Or are there just subjects you would love to see covered regularly? Get in touch, or add a comment. Thanks for your help!

Photo by Pete Lambert

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Starting now, posts every weekday

About the site

After considering it for some time, I’ve decided to take the plunge and change to an every weekday schedule for The Willpower Engine. My hope is that brief posts on an even wider variety of topics touching on goals, habits, self-motivation, mood, psychology, neuroscience, and personal development every day will be useful and interesting to readers out there who may want to follow the site daily.

This is an experiment; it’s certainly possible that after a few weeks I’ll find the format doesn’t suit as well as I’d hoped and change the schedule to fewer posts (or who knows? maybe even 7 days a week). I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter in comments or using the contact form

Having more posts also opens up the possibility that I’ll choose one day to write a weekly post on a specific theme, with writing and weight loss being the lead contenders right now. Of course I’d be very much interested in your opinion on that subject, too, or in fact in any comments about the site and its contents.

That’s all for now … but see you here tomorrow!

Photo by Joe Lanman

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100 Posts on Self-motivation and Willpower

About the site


While editing a new article for later in the week today, I noticed my total of published posts had reached 100 with today’s entry, How to Detect Broken Ideas. When I began this blog six months ago, it seemed to me that self-motivation was such a broad and useful topic that I’d never run out of things to write about. 100 posts later, I’m more confident of that than ever, especially when I look over my long queue of articles I want to tackle and the new information that psychologists, neurologists, reporters, and motivated people are bringing out all the time.

As long as I’m looking at round numbers, I decided to review the blog calendar and realized that this week marks the 6 month anniversary of the site, and 3 uninterrupted months since I decided to post one article every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (at minimum). A good time for celebration! I hope it will not dampen your spirits to hear that my celebratory food was wheat puffs. You’ve got to love wheat puffs.

Enough tooting my own horn, although I have to say this milestone boosts my motivation even higher than it already was. What about you? Have you hit a blog milestone? Mention it in comments!

Photo by rodeworks

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