Last week I talked about setting deadlines and how doing so allowed me to finally make decent progress on the series I’ve been writing since 2001. Back then, I only managed to put down rough first drafts, and lots of notes about what I wanted to include, without actually writing the scenes to include them. Since establishing self-imposed deadlines, the first book is currently making the rounds with publishers, the second and third book have been through beta readers and numerous edits, and the fourth is my current WIP, where I’m four drafts in.
The series has come a long way, with lots of progress, but I didn’t celebrate any of it.
- I didn’t celebrate giving the final drafts to others to read, marking the first time anyone else had read my work.
- I didn’t celebrate the positive comments from the two professional assessments I had done on the finished MS for the first book.
- I didn’t celebrate sending out my first query letter.
- I didn’t celebrate my first rejection (I had a good cry, but I don’t consider that or the chocolate I devoured after any kind of celebration).
- I didn’t celebrate finishing off endless drafts.
- I didn’t celebrate when I finished the first draft of the last book, and realized I’d finally written the ending that had been floating around in my head for years.
And why didn’t I celebrate any of these momentous goals? Because none of them were my end goal. I figured I’d always celebrate writing when I was “a real writer”. Celebrations were for after contracts were signed and books were released in paperback copies that I could hold in my hands, and all those things writers work toward. But like the cliché goes; it’s the journey, not the destination.
We should be celebrating when we get something major accomplished, such as finally getting that draft done, or letting someone read your work (you could even celebrate with said person and discuss your book over a meal or a cup of tea). Or when you do send your work out for the first time to an agent or publisher, celebrate that accomplishment, because it’s a major step and a major fear to overcome. Celebrate when you type “the end” after every first draft, even though you’ll probably hate what you wrote when you begin work on the second. Getting to “the end” is an accomplishment, one that is definitely worth celebrating.
If you don’t want to celebrate every milestone, pick and choose the ones that mean the most to you. Write out those goals and assign yourself a reward for when you achieve them. Turn all your celebrations into one big party that commemorates everything you’ve accomplished, whether it was finishing that draft, getting an agent, signing a publishing contract, launching a blog, setting up a Facebook page, or hitting a certain number of followers on Instagram—whatever mini-goals helped you take steps toward the writer that you want to be. Celebrate it all, and enjoy it. You’ve worked hard for it.
— K.M. Allan