So I usually don’t talk too much about works in progress while I’m writing them (how can I share with you where something is going when some days I’m not even 100 percent sure myself?) but I’ve just finished a draft of a novel I started some time ago. ???
Reaching the end of a draft is one of the biggest milestones of steps to write a novel, but at the same time, it’s bittersweet. Spoiler alert: it might not be very good. You’ll need to do another draft…and another…and another. But in the moment, that hard work deserves to be treated!
I’m in the position where I can treat myself financially for milestones like this, but there are all sorts of ways to treat yourself that don’t cost money (here are some favorite free or cheap reward ideas).
If I finish drafting an essay, I might reward myself with an at-home yoga session or an extra-long coffee break with a good book. I usually pick something I enjoy that will feel like a treat.
These rewards are my way of honoring the steps to writing a novel or other writing achievement. Savoring the moment seals in the positive benefits of my accomplishment, so when I get back to work I feel refreshed and energized by possibilities.
Since completing a novel draft is a major milestone, I decided it needed a bigger reward. So I’m putting a little cash in a fund to buy a stand-up paddle board (chime in if you’ve got recommendations on what to buy) and I’m donating to a cause I believe in to pass on some of that positive energy. I haven’t decided what cause, but it’s likely to be something climate related.
In addition to rewarding myself for completing a novel, I take a big break before going back to that project. If I try to edit it too close, I can’t see what it needs. Time helps me find an objective viewpoint, where I can evaluate the writing, find what doesn’t work, and determine a fix while appreciating the elements of the book that are working.
Breaks are a nice time to get back to travel writing essays I’m polishing for submission, outline a new idea that’s been on the back burner, or read through a CP’s novel. I continue my daily writing habit, but work on something unrelated to the novel in progress.
After you finish a draft, you’ve got two choices: revise or seek an outside opinion. So when I’m pausing from a big project, I often line up critique partners or beta readers.
I’ve found the best critique partners for my books are ones who can speak to a particular aspect of the book either because they’re familiar with the themes or setting, or because they write similar works. I’ve been fortunate to find people who’ve lived in areas I’ve written about or worked in fields adjacent to my characters’ professions, and they can provide spot-on feedback based on their experience. Sometimes they confirm something I suspect, but often as not they point out things I haven’t considered that benefit the work.
After a month or so way, I’m ready to reread and revise.
What ways do you treat yourself for reaching a writing milestone?