Do you reward yourself for finishing a book with a glass of bubbly, a gift or a massage? Elisabeth Hobbes and Barb Han discuss how they celebrate their achievements.
Barb Han - Darn Right I celebrate!
Finishing a book still amazes me and I hope I never lose that tingling feeling inside when I write the last line of a story. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was little girl and let myself be talked out of it for more years than I care to count. It was my husband who finally encouraged me to take the plunge and we rearranged a lot in our lives to give me time to write. So, darn right I celebrate each story when I finish it.
Plus, rewards are a great way to refill the creative well and I love the emphasis on a celebration for finishing a book rather than hitting a sales target.
I had the great fortune to sit next to Lisa Gardner at Romance Writers of America’s national conference a few months after I’d sold my first book to Harlequin Intrigue. She gave me advice that I cherish to this day. She said something to the effect of:
Make your celebrations about the work. Celebrate writing a great scene by treating yourself to a massage after. That way, you’ll keep the focus on what you can control, which is where it belongs. The writers I see who burn out fast only celebrate hitting a list. You want to be in this for the long haul, so make your celebrations about writing accomplishments.
Lisa’s advice stuck with me. She’s one smart lady and it’s easy to see why she’s having an amazing career. I took her words to heart.
Ever since, I celebrate kicking writing butt (whatever that means) by taking a night off, having a glass of wine with my husband and watching a show together. I’ve been known to get a massage. Sometimes, I’ll spend an afternoon shopping and treat myself to a new outfit or great pair of shoes. Other times, I schedule lunch with a friend. It’s fun to poke my head out of the writing cave and catch up on all the things I’ve missed with girlfriends and/or their kids. I love to visit museums or spend an afternoon playing around on Pinterest, looking for craft ideas.
And when I feel like staying at home, I’ll spend time around the swimming pool or playing in the garden. There are times when I want to go all-in with a workout or take extra walks with my dogs. I usually go with whatever treat I’m feeling at the time.
For me, it’s so important to have these rewards that I consider them part of my creative process. They keep me going and excited to write 10+ books in a year. And I absolutely think treats should be a regular thing. They don’t have to be food-related, although they can be. I can enjoy a good workout as much as a cupcake or a glass of wine. 😊
Elisabeth Hobbes - Marking The Occasion
When exactly is it appropriate to celebrate a milestone in the publishing journey? Getting The Call? Handing in the finished manuscript? When your editor tells you it’s fine and there are no more revisions? When the cheque for the advance lands on the mat? Publication day? The first royalty statement when you earn out and there isn’t a minus sign in front of the amount?
A bottle of champagne at every stage would see me go through my earnings in no time!
I also have the sneaking suspicion that as writing is my job it shouldn’t be marked with celebrations for getting a pay cheque. After all, I don’t crack open the champagne each month I get my payslip from my teaching job (though there is arguably more to celebrate getting through another month in the education system than any other reason).
I do like to mark the occasion (usually for me it is when I actually have the cheque for advance payment in my hands) but I’m trying to bring up my kids to avoid the food = reward combination and feel I should practice what I preach. However much I could say I don’t care if I don’t have the perfect size ten body, I am getting older and it takes longer to get rid of the weight that seems increasingly easier to put on. I spend enough time sitting at a desk to be able to eat what I like.
I also know while I might enjoy the chocolate or champagne while it lasts—though I should point out here that we did Dry January and never stopped so these days it is non-alcoholic sparking wine from Sainsbury’s—the moment passes, and I like significant things to last.
I decided early on I’d celebrate each sale with a memento of some sort to mark the occasion. The first thing I bought after getting The Call from Mills & Boon offering me my first contract was a robot made from an old radio. A bit of an unlikely choice but I was still reeling from the request for not one but two books, as I was walking around the town’s monthly craft and food market and spotted the stall. I’m not one for splashing out but the euphoria hadn’t worn off. I fell in love with his boggly eyes made out of volume controls and decided that for once I was going to treat myself. Now he sits on the bookshelf in my office and gives me a bit of a boost whenever I start to have doubts that I’ll get through a manuscript.
Since then I’ve become a little more sensible in my purchases. So far these have ranged from earrings to a Harris Tweed jacket, and paintings to a patchwork quilt. It gives me more pleasure to look at them and recall which book they were related to than the brief enjoyment of a bottle of fizz.
As far as downtime between books goes—I wish! I promised myself that with the payment from my latest book I would get some singing lessons but I haven’t found the time to organize them. I have tight deadlines because I only have one dedicated writing day a week and teach the other four so as soon as I’ve sent one manuscript off to my editor I’m usually straight on with the next. Mostly the characters have been rattling around my brain anyway, loudly demanding their turn, so it is nice to get to give them some attention. A change is as good as a rest for my imagination. I believe there is a mythical creature called the Work Life Balance but I’ve yet to encounter it.
Do you reward yourself with a memento or time off to relax after finishing a book or is it more a case of diving into the next one asap? What do you dream of doing to mark the joyous occasion of your first book sale? Let us know in the comments or join the #TreatTime discussion on our Social Media