This year I'm trying to get back into my old writing habits. Because of a few things that happened last year, some good and some not, I got off the writing wagon. But I decided early on this year I am getting back on, full force. And so far I've done a pretty good job of getting back on the horse. I completed one first draft of a novella this year, and wrote, revised and submitted another story to one of my publishers.
While there is no word yet on how well my work will be received, I have found a new secret to success that I've never used before, and that seems to be working pretty well for me. Rewarding myself.
Every time I meet an achievement, finish a first draft, a revision, anything important, I give myself a little reward. Not something big. Completing a first draft, I bought myself a nice bottle of wine (ménage a trios wine--wonder what type of story I was writing?). Wine is a treat I don't often get myself, because I feel its such a waste, since I can't drink the whole bottle by myself. For finishing a revision I got takeout that I ate curled up in bed. In celebration of submitting a work, I rented a movie I'd been wanting to see.
They are small little gestures. Nothing that costs more than a few dollars. Yet acknowledging the accomplishment of finishing writing a draft, of finally submitting that work, feeds something inside me. It encourages me to keep going, to realize the amazing thing that I have done, which is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about.
Its easy to forget just how monumental an achievement it is to write a whole story, or to make it through the editing process (admittedly, my least favorite part) and finally get all the way to submission. Especially when you've been doing it a long time like I have. But completing something is a great and wonderful thing, that deserves to be celebrated.
From my experience this last month, the more you celebrate, the more you get in return. Celebrating your achievements makes you want to have more, pushes you to see what else you can do. It might sound a little counter intuitive, to take time off to produce more, but it really does work. Taking a little bit of time off allows you to recharge, to reboot and come back even stronger. Ready to battle the next day to earn that next bottle of wine or take out dinner.
If there is something you are trying to do. Something big or difficult. Consider breaking it down into smaller goals, and reward yourself for each step you accomplish. This method has been working well for me over the last two months, and I plan to keep it going as long as I can. Which hopefully will mean a lot more completed works, and a lot more time doing what I love most. Writing.