Thursday, March 5, 2015

Celebrating Success in Writing: Give yourself a gold star

There is a bottle of champagne sitting in a drawer in my refrigerator. It has been there for years awaiting a big success in writing. Which is sad because writers, like everyone else, need to celebrate successes, big and small. And, since we are an emotional bunch with plenty of opportunity for regret and disappointment, our needs may be greater rather than smaller.

Rejection notices, abandoned stories, criticisms, contest losses, ugly illustrations, backhanded advice, and snide remarks about the time we waste and our inevitable failure (often from relatives and "friends") -- these are common and continuing elements of the writer's life. It is easy to forget or dismiss the victories, big and small.

But these are also part of our lives:
  • Well-turned phrases.
  • Characters that delight us.
  • Great hooks.
  • Finished chapters, short stories, and books.
  • Compliments.
  • Fan mail.
  • Sales.
  • Awards.
  • Successful readings.
  • Great classes completed.
  • Milestones like getting an agent, getting rid of a bad agent, publishing indie, selling a book, selling a series, being invited to speak or join a panel, book signings, making a bestsellers list,and getting a box full of printed books with your name on them.
All of them are worth celebrating. Maybe not by setting off fireworks or cracking open a bottle of champagne, but proportionally with a status in Facebook or a piece of chocolate or a kiss or a bouquet of flowers or a document suitable for framing.

Do this at least: Get a box of stars. The shiny ones teachers put on assignments and tests well done. Take a calendar and put a star on each day with a victory. Color code them if you want, but use them. Don't miss a chance to celebrate. And, when you suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, look over a few pages and see how many successes you've had. And smile.

Upcoming classes

March 2- March 27 Novel in a Month (online)
March 9-April 3 Career Planning for Writers (online) 15-April 29 Story Bootcamp (face-to-face) Westchester Community College
April 20-May 25 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop (face-to-face) 
May 1-May 29 Bigger Stories (online) 

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