This month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group posed the question – How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story? I’d love to be able to say I treat myself to a weekend in the Florida Keys or a workshop in Ireland over the summer. Alas, my celebration usually involves a mess of nerves untangling themselves for a short while and then a collapse on my bed. A brief respite when I glow with the satisfaction of sending a story to my critique group or to a publisher before my self-doubt and impostor syndrome kicks in. Ahhh, I have completed something!
But this reaction, while valid, only contributes to a continuous cycle of Never Feeling Good Enough. And this, my friends, is exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, and even physically. We should reward ourselves when we hit a goal or meet a deadline. We should take a moment to breathe, pat ourselves on the back (*creak* I definitely need more yoga in my life!) and say to ourselves, good job.
Going beyond massages, pedicures, manicures, what can we do when money is tight? Here is a quick list of free or low-cost rewards I’ve put together that works for me based on my interests:
- A race entry (can be under $40 for a 5k)
- Workout apparel (Tar-jay has some great options for all budgets and sizes)
- A new book (here’s a no-brainer for writers. (You can opt for something light and breezy like a cozy mystery or dig into a how-to book for inspiration. I’m recommending Chuck Wendig’s Damn Fine Story, which is a switch from your normal how-to and delves more into narrative and storytelling.)
- Try a new running or bike trail. Even if you’re not a runner or biker, getting outside can be a wonderful mental and emotional refresher
- Sign up for a new type of workout – barre, Zumba, hot yoga. I’ve even seen naptime workouts.
- Try a new type of wine (I recently had plum wine from Valenzano Winery here in NJ and it was delicious! Bonus, it was around $11.)
- Try a new lipstick or nail polish. No long-term commitment and can you say unicorn or mermaid hues?
- Check out a museum on free days
- Organize a board game or card night with friends
- Take a night off to pamper yourself – order in, watch a movie you’ve been meaning to see, wear something comfortable, and relax with no thoughts about the next goal or due date. Just be for a few hours.
Recently, I submitted several short stories to magazines. To celebrate, I finally decided to check out the trails near my house that I found out about two years ago but never tried. Of course, it was the day after a major wind and snow storm. Downed trees and mud acted as an obstacle course, but I needed to be outside after a long winter to sweep the cobwebs away and prepare now (small steps) for a triathlon in July. This didn’t cost anything, plus what better way to reward myself than giving my body the gift of health?
Remember, you can reward yourself for any goal, not just sending out work or publication. How about the fact that you wrote your minimum for the week (word count, time per day, days per week, whatever)? Or that you revised a particularly troublesome scene. Or that you learned a new skill to help you market yourself or your work better.
We don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit for being writers and for writing (which we know is a lot more than just pounding out words). This is, for many of us, homework for life. Writing after the day job or school, after all the zillion other things that need to be done, and the elebenty billion other things we want to do (I just NEED that achievement in World of Warcraft!). We’re fighting against exhaustion, lack of time, and the ogre of procrastination.
Hitting a goal is some major shit. Treat yourself and learn to say, good job. No qualifiers needed.