I’ve read in more than one place that writers should reward themselves for the little accomplishments they have along the way of bigger successes. They should do that because writing is a long slog from first draft to publication and while you’re doing it, it feels like you’re doing it for nothing. You put in all of this work and in the end, you might not see a dime for it. Rewarding yourself during the process helps alleviate that hopeless feeling that tends to creep up when you’re not looking.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea. Eating some ice cream at the end of a first draft, drinking some wine after slogging through revisions, playing a video game after meeting the day’s word count, or going out with some friends after submitting that short story is great. It’s a nice motivator to get through the hard parts and it’s a nice release once you do. Whatever reward you come up with, good on ya. Whatever flips your skirt and rocks your boat.
I’ll just be over here wishing I could do the same thing.
I don’t reward myself. At all. Ever. Even on the rare occasion that a short story gets accepted somewhere, the most I do is pause for a fist pump and then get back to work.
I guess it’s because of the way I was raised. Yes, of all the things to blame on my parents, I blame not eating pizza after finishing a first draft of a novel. But it’s true. My parents didn’t believe in rewarding us kids for things we were supposed to do. I didn’t get an allowance for cleaning my room. I was supposed to do that. I didn’t get a trip to Dairy Queen for making good grades. I was supposed to do that. I remember when I was a kid finding out that my friends got paid a dollar amount for A’s and B’s. I asked my parents why I didn’t get paid like that.
I was supposed to do that.
So here I am, 32 years old, been writing most of my life, and while I approve of the idea of getting a treat for finishing a first draft or revisions or submitting or accomplishing anything, big or small, related to a writing career, I can’t bring myself to participate because…I’m supposed to do that.
I’m supposed to finish that first draft and finish those revisions and submit that story and do that research and this, that, and the other. It’s part of my job. I don’t get rewarded for supposed to’s.
I would imagine that my attitude won’t change much when (not if!) I get my first novel published.
Because as a writer, that’s what I’m supposed to do. And as I writer, I’m supposed to write another.
So, I’d better get on it.
There’s no time for me to celebrate supposed to’s.