A pink glow from the sunrise diffused the harsh light from the fixture above. I glanced at the clock. 6:59 AM. I smiled as I typed my final letters and did a quick word count. 102 words in fifteen minutes.
“YES!” My earworm of the morning, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, filled my brain as I rose in victory.
I AM THE CHAMPION!
Arms bobbed and toes bounced all the way to the shower. Fifteen minutes of writing complete! I was 102 words further along on my story!
And even as the shower washed me clean for the coming day, I wished for tomorrow’s 6:45 AM writing time to arrive so the work could start again.
Reinforcing that wonderful feeling of victory makes it sooooo much easier to get back to work. Think about it—when was the last time you did something that felt like a failure? Get right in there and plop yourself into that situation. Do you want to return to that process? No! Of course not!
Now, think about the last time you finished something with a triumphant feeling. Snuggle into that memory. Do you want to go back and do it again? Absolutely!
Just like composting turns to garden dirt that grows to healthy veggies which send their post-cooking detritus back out to the compost pile, celebrating your success continues a cycle that encourages you back into your work, a joyous miracle in your artistic life!
We think, “How hard can it be to celebrate? Throw the confetti! Pop the champagne! Dance with wild abandon!”
However, celebrating our achievements can be a minefield. I don’t know about you, but I will take any chance I can to sabotage my own victories. Truly taking the time to savor a celebratory moment is HARD.
If there was an Olympics for undermining myself, you’d see me on the highest platform, mugging for the cameras and biting my gold medal. Oh, did I write for my fifteen minutes this morning? That might have happened, but did I hit my secret word count? And even if the word count was the one that I thought I wanted, I REALLY wanted to hit a higher number.
Oh! Here’s a good one! I do my fifteen minutes, hit my word count, and say, YES! Time to dance! Halfway through the first steps, I realize, those words weren’t very good. I could have written better words! Bouncing dance moves of celebration turn to stomps of frustration.
Or, maybe I do my fifteen minutes, hit my word count, and actually accept that I’ve done well. Instead of dancing, I immediately begin to up my word count for tomorrow, and obsessively plow back into the work without any celebration at all!
I see. You thought you were the only one who did that? Come on in. We saved you a chair.
Let me ask you a question. What would it feel like to believe you were successful with your writing? Stop before you head into the next sentence, re-read that question, close your eyes, and find that feeling in your belly.
Got it? Good.
Do you think you could believe that you were just 5% successful?
Or maybe could you believe that you were successful for just fifteen seconds?
Again, stop. Pick one of those two options, or try both.
Now, here’s the hard one! Imagine you’re celebrating finishing your next small step. During that celebration, could you act like you believed you were successful? Just while you celebrate? Just that moment?
By practicing your celebration, you begin to open yourself up to that belief that you are successful, that you can have this writing practice, and that you can have fun while you do it.
And that keeps you coming back for more.
Do You Want A Prize for That?
Why not? Why shouldn’t our celebrations include prizes? They don’t have to be anything big. For me, the prize for spending fifteen minutes writing was a silly dance to a song in my head.
That little bit of rejoicing kept my spirits high, my heart happy, and my mind resilient enough to return day after day to my writing desk.
As we work on establishing our writing habits, our celebratory prizes can also be a physical bribe.
Is that cheating? All is fair in creating that habit! Having a tangible prize for achieving what we set out to do can be the last little push that gets us out of bed on a particularly cold morning, or to our writing space at the end of a difficult day.
When selecting a reward for daily practice, a significant milestone, or any type of celebration in between, make sure the prize reflects the effort.
For example, perhaps a new pen celebrates the completion of a chapter, a salted caramel truffle finishes a section, that pair of Danskos you’ve been eyeing slip on your feet when the novel sits complete in your hard drive.
However, just like me with my dance, the prize doesn’t have to be a physical thing. Maybe you can reward yourself with a walk to your favorite tree, spend some time doing yoga, or sign up for a class you’ve been dying to take.
The prize is the manifestation of your victory! Whatever you select, enjoy it with a clear heart and let the joy carry you into enthusiasm for your next day of work.
Celebrations anchor in that fabulous feeling of accomplishment, keeping you coming back to your writing space. It’s part of our process, just as important as getting up early and putting the words on the page. And, as with your writing, practice makes perfect and a good prize helps your plot move forward.
**This post uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™.
Tell us in the comments: What does your victory celebration look like?
LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois empowers you to embrace JOY as you manifest your creative goals through her Creativity and Business Coaching. Battle resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm with her at your side, gently encouraging with humor and heart. Discover more at her website, labourgeois.biz