It’s easy to finish something, put it down, and then jump straight to the next chapter, the next blank page—but that’s such a disheartening way to work. It can make you feel almost like you did nothing at all, like you didn’t actually accomplish any of what you just finished. Good leaders reward you, they pat you on the back for a job well done, and they make you feel like your work has value. Well, you’re your own leader here; you should actually stop to give yourself praise and reward your progress.
We suggest a few little ways to reward yourself. Do some of them, or hey, do all of them; you deserve it!
Keep a to-do list of the next things you have to accomplish; it might be a to-do list for a chapter, it might be a really big to-do list for the whole book. Cross it off. It’s done!
“Turn in” your work somehow. If you have a coach, co-author, editor, or other cohort, send it to them. Even if you’re by yourself, send it to yourself. Not only do you get to “share” that you’ve finished something, but you might get that relief that can only come from passing it off. It’s out of your hands for a while. Breathe a good, hearty sigh and be happy.
Take a short break. Wherever you are, stand up, walk away, and do something else. If you want to cook yourself lunch, or watch an episode of the show you’ve been missing, go ahead and do it. You’ll need to get back to work later, of course, but for now, enjoy your “nothing time” guilt-free.
Treat yourself to something you enjoy. If you love Swiss chocolate, Naked smoothies, or going to the movies, now’s a good time to go for it. Maybe you’ve been eyeing something in the seasonal catalog; as long as you can afford it, place the order. You’ll get to look forward to it, and then, when it arrives, you can put it on and think, “I’ve been wanting this, and I get to have it because I’ve made good progress!”
Celebrate with someone. Maybe save the champagne for when the whole draft is finished, but if you’ve been wanting to have a girls’ (or guys’) night out or go for dinner with your spouse, this is as good a reason as any. Tell your someone, “Honey, I got this part done and I want to celebrate, so let’s go.” We’re sure they’ll be happy to have an excuse to celebrate with you.
Again, mood, morale, and energy all feed into momentum. You’re doing more than just “keeping the monster fed” by writing; you’re actually making steps towards something exciting and important for yourself. Let yourself be happy, and more than that, make deliberate efforts to reward what you finish. It will make the whole process seem fulfilling and less like a never-ending chore.
This article is excerpted from On Your Mark: From First Word to First Draft in Six Weeks by Cathy Fyock and Kevin Williamson. For more information, visit the book’s website.