I was all set to write a writing-related Reminder for today, but a conversation with a friend yesterday got me thinking, and I decided some of those thoughts were worth sharing here. To start us off, here’s today’s Reminder in a nutshell:
I realized yesterday that I rarely stop to congratulate myself on my accomplishments; still less often do I actually reward myself for them.
I finished a PhD program in August after 6.5 years. Grad school sucks every bit as much as they say it does, but I made it and I’m a doctor now. (Whooo! *Straightens bowtie*) My family threw me a really awesome “Not That Kind of Doctor!” party, but I never really sat and just…felt proud. I’d been keeping a list of “Possible presents to buy yourself after you get your PhD!” and I deleted it. A week after my defense I was already worrying about getting a job. 10 months later I’m still worrying about getting a job and feeling like a huge failure because I still don’t have one.
Last year I joined @Writerology’s #WriteChain on Twitter, an accountability group where you pledge to do a certain amount of writing (vel sim) every day. Yesterday I hit 266 days. That’s 38 weeks of writing, editing, or plotting EVERY SINGLE DAY. And yet I’ve not once stopped to celebrate my milestones. 100 days? I tweeted about it. Not sure I even acknowledged 200.
What I tend to forget–and maybe you do, too–is that the end goal is not the only accomplishment worthy of notice. There are any number of smaller stopping points along the way that deserve attention, too.
One semester of college.
One chapter of a 50-chapter novel.
The initial sketch of a work of art.
The fact that I don’t have a job doesn’t in any way detract from my successful completion of graduate school. The fact that your novel isn’t published doesn’t make that completed-but-icky rough draft any less a milestone.
Never devalue what you’ve done because you still have more to do.
Stop and celebrate your accomplishments, big or small, stepping stone or end goal. Watch your projects come together bit by bit rather than waiting until they’re finished to feel a sense of success. Feel proud that you’ve done *something.* I’m not going to recommend going out and buying yourself a reward every time you write a paragraph, but heck yes, give yourself permission to feel awesome along the way–and if you want to eat an M&M after every paragraph, I say, bring on the candy!
Hey look, I wrote a blog post. I AM AWESOME!