Reward The Little Things


More specifically: what are the celebrations I give myself for achieving successes and milestones in writing?

Okay…so, first off…I write in the taproom of a brewery. One could (quite reasonably) argue that every single one of my writing sessions is a “celebration”. And that’s even before you get into the philosophical considerations of the mental and emotional rewards of writing…

Okay, okay, I freely admit it — I do use my “office” for a certain amount of…err…self-reward. And, no, that’s not nearly as dirty as it sounds. What it does mean is that I’m a very goal-oriented person in anything I do professionally.

I have a specific, concrete goal for each and every writing session. Now, it helps to keep in mind that I design my outlines, and my stories, based on “scenes”, and each scene is intended as a goal to be accomplished in one writing session. It doesn’t happen every time, but when I am successful in achieving that goal, I reward myself for achieving that day’s goal with a mini-celebration. I reward myself — at the least — with a beer and a quiet, internal little “Yeehaw!”

But it gets more complicated from there.

I think most writers are aware that some sessions — like some scenes, and some ideas — are just more “successful” than others. For those, something special is in order. For those times when I get done and I know that everything just clicked — for those times when I have that feeling that says “oh yeah, nailed it!” — a celebration, or at least a (ahem) self-reward, is definitely in order. Those are the times when I don’t reward myself with a beer. Nosiree, those are the times when the bottle of 14-year-old single-malt might just happen to come out…

The bottom line isn’t giving yourself a drink as a reward. Just as it isn’t any other form of self-indulgence. No, the bottom line is that you have to motivate yourself…and anyone who has spent more than five minutes managing in Corporate America knows that motivating involves not just the stick, but also the carrot.

Dangle yourself a carrot — allow yourself a reward for the small victories as much as for the large.

Sure, when you sign that five-book-deal with a major publisher and are preparing your acceptance speech for a major award, you reward yourself. Of course you do. And if you don’t? Well, disfunction is its own reward, I suppose.

But what about when you absolutely nail a scene?

Or, hell…what about when you finish a chapter?

Or you take a new direction with a character?

Yeah, “writing is its own reward,” you say. And I get it…I really do.


…but you have to give yourself those little extras — those perks — that tell your subconscious, “hey, this is worth doing!”

If you don’t reward yourself for the little victories, why would your subconscious believe that you’re going to do a damned thing for the big ones? Would you believe a boss that did that to you?

I know I wouldn’t.

If you’re like me, writing is who you are, far more than it is what you do…but that doesn’t mean you can treat yourself like shit.  It doensn’t mean that you’re slave-labor. Quite the opposite in fact. It means you have to keep yourself motivated and working; it means that you have to reward yourself for the little victories as much as for the big.

That five-book-deal, by the way? That reward is set and waiting…and it involves a velvet couch, a bow-and-arrow, and a bunny-suit.

You don’t want to know.

8 thoughts on “Reward The Little Things

  1. Rhonda Strong Gilmour March 7, 2018 / 9:46 am

    Like you, I try to tackle a scene a day. It takes about 40-60 of them to build a novel, of course, and there are days when other writing chores (like blog hops) eat a chunk of my time, but I’m able to either write or revise a scene most days. I love the notion of doing so at a bar–perhaps I’ll try that one day.


    • WriterMinion March 7, 2018 / 10:21 am

      I mentioned in a previous IWSG post that I also find it helpful to “jump around” the scenes. I do not write them in order, instead I write whatever fits my mood and strikes my fancy that day. It makes it easier for me to hit the right tone and feeling in the various scenes…it is also idiosyncratic as hell, and not for everyone.

      As a note — I stole the idea of writing “out of order” from how movies are filmed: no movie (well, very very few of them) are filmed “chronologically”. Instead,the scenes are shot in the order that most makes sense from a logistical and “back of house” perspective, then edited and adjusted to make everything work. Which is why, of course, things like conitnuity and planning and editing become so powerful…


  2. eclecticalli March 7, 2018 / 10:05 am

    I seriously need to find a better place to write – taproom sounds like a brilliant location! 🙂
    I like the reminder about celebrating those little things – those particularly challenging scenes, and those things that make it HARD to be a writer.


    • WriterMinion March 7, 2018 / 10:16 am

      I’ve tried writing at home. The quiet office, the peace and ability to concentrate… Erg, it just doesn’t work for me. I have to have life around me; have to have energy and a certain amount of chaos. It helps that the brewery is owned by two of my closest friends, and that I have become a “fixture” in the corner…although I DID have to train the regulars to leave me alone when I’m writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • eclecticalli March 7, 2018 / 10:44 am

        After the initial time of settling in I definitely get more work done when I have the bustle of noise around me (not to mention not having to constantly fight off my cat). Now, to figure out a location where I can become a fixture 🙂


  3. Mary Aalgaard March 8, 2018 / 7:51 am

    Love it that your writing office is at a brew pub. I usually go to coffee shops. An outline and goal would be very necessary, especially in that environment.Write on!
    Mary at Play off the Page


    • WriterMinion March 9, 2018 / 3:16 pm

      I’m an instant-gratification guy. Back when I was a sales-monkey, that meant commissions were a big motivator. Nowadays…nowadays, I need something different. No matter what, though, my little personal “attaboys” help me to keep everything fun, and in perspective.


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