When my kids were younger, right about the time they became allergic to taking baths, they used to grumble when I made them dress up for events, like fancy family dinners or holiday parties. “What’s the point?” they’d wail. “It’s just another day!”
My answer was always this- celebration makes life sweeter. It breaks up the monotony of the day-to-day slog of wake up, go to school/work, jam some enjoyment into the few evening hours you might have, go to bed. And so on and so on, day after day.
And celebration is fun.
Celebration tied to goals you have achieved are especially important (and so, so sweet). But if you’re like me, the message you often heard when you were younger was just to take pride in a job well done, and stay away from seeking a pat on the back.
Why can’t we have both?
We’re taught that you’re “tooting your own horn” if you ask for people to recognize what you’ve achieved, showing the vilest of sins, pride. We’re reminded that humble people don’t need recognition, so we soldier on and, at least for me, the resentment builds. When you work as hard as we do, and struggle because you are not published, you being to feel invisible. I work hard on my goals and following this outdated advice just left me feeling less inclined to achieve anything. It always felt a bit like stepping out to perform, only to find the entire theatre was empty.
Rewarding ourselves with kind words and acknowledging hard work isn’t a bad thing. It won’t “spoil us”, or make us “soft”. It won’t make us attention whores, or put us out of the running for sainthood (plenty of other reasons that’s not on the table for me). What it does is fill our tanks to fuel us for those days we aren’t achieving. The word droughts, or times of crisis when we can’t focus on what we want to focus us. It sustains us on the work-a-day days when sweatpants and ratty t-shirts are appropriate attire. Basically, the bulk of our lives.
So, like Kool and the Gang sang in their smash hit, Celebration:
To inspire your celebrations, I’ve compiled a list of the ways writers I know commemorate big and small achievements in great and quirky ways (we are writers, after all- we’re a nutty bunch).
- Keep mini bottles of Champagne in your fridge- you can even write the goal you are working towards right on the bottle- and crack that puppy open as soon as you meet your target (time of day be damned!)
- Do a crazy dance to your favourite song (I believe there is a bra involved with this particular ritual though I’m not 100% on the role it plays?)
- Buy yourself a shiny fresh pair of shoes- Fluevog makes my shoes of choice.
- Buy yourself a new book (come on, we’re writers, you knew this had to be on the list).
- Put a designated amount of money in a “professional development” fund, so the next time you see a cool writing course pop up in your feed you can take advantage.
- New ski-pants (one writer friend is a serious, first day of the season skier)- this wouldn’t be on my list, but perhaps sub them out for anything pricey/luxurious you have your eye on
- Cake (or cookies, pie, candy, chocolate, chips, sunflower seeds, etc.)- whatever brings you joy
- Coffee/drinks with a friend (though much sweeter, I will admit, when we can see those friends in person)
- Social media post in whatever forum you find your community- they are your tribe and will understand how significant your achievement is.
Gosh Darn It, I’m Worth It!
I didn’t officially “win” NaNoWriMo this year- I fell a tad short of the pre-requisite 50,000- so I won’t be posing with my certificate or cashing in on any of the sweet deals available to winners. Congratulations to you, if you did. I, however, surpassed my goal of writing fifteen minutes a day for the month of November, (450 minutes of writing), by writing (drum roll, please) 2, 625 minutes. Holy moly! That’s 43.75 hours of writing. Yeah, me!
This means, as I promised myself at the start of the month, I have a date at a certain shoe store this coming Saturday (squee!), photographic evidence of the shoes to come, I promise.
So friends, please celebrate and fill your tank. Dress up in your fancy clothes, drink champagne, dance, phone a friend- any celebration that helps you to be ready to return to your chair tomorrow (or next week- or whenever you get there).
You and your writing deserve it.