Coach’s Corner: Celebrating the Small Stuff

Welcome to Coach’s Corner, where I offer some thoughts on the creative process and breaking through moments of self-doubt.


Photo Credit: Ice Flow Studios

Do you ever have days when you’re sitting at your computer, staring at the screen, and wondering why you’re doing this yet again, on a Friday night, again? Have you thought, “This is my tenth night sitting in front of the computer. I wish I was going out to see the latest blockbuster movie or episode of The Walking Dead so I have something to talk about with my friends.” Have you ever had those nights and then thought, “Forget the writing. I’m going out tonight!” Then one night out turns into three weeks of binge-watching instead of writing because the novel is taking forever anyway. You feel like working on your novel tonight is pointless because even if you finish it, it will take months or years before it gets in the hands of the public?

Writing — doing anything creative — can be a long, tedious, and often isolating process. Sure, people celebrate with us when we make a sale or sign a book contract. But we also need to celebrate the small steps such as having written 100 words on a day you thought you’d never get anything written. We need to celebrate writing three days in a row, or finishing a draft. We need to celebrate mastering a new part of the craft and integrating it into our writing, finishing each chapter or even each scene, and meeting our word count goals for each week.

Celebrating the small steps takes some of the hopelessness out of the process of writing. Celebrating marks a point of progress that otherwise goes unseen.

What do I mean by celebrate? Well, these are the small steps, so I’m not talking about dinner out or a new book or some other kind of reward. I’m talking about cheering for yourself when you walk away from the computer at the end of a writing session and telling yourself, “I did it! Today was a good writing day.” or

“Didn’t think I’d get any words down, but I did. Well done, me!”

Take a moment to savor an extra piece of chocolate because you finished that scene or chapter. Play your favorite song on iTunes and have a little celebratory dance party for yourself. Tell your writing or other creative friends about your progress and congratulate each other. No one else understands how big a deal it can be to accomplish those small steps. If we don’t celebrate them with each other, they will pass by without recognition.

Celebrate, especially the small steps, because achieving the small goals means you are committed and working toward a big-end goal of a complete story.

What kind of small steps will you celebrate? I hope that one of the ways you will celebrate is to let me know so I can cheer with you!


1 Comment

  • Jayne Barnard October 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I’m a big fan of celebrating the small steps too, Sherry. In fact, I’d like to highly recommend to anyone starting NaNo soon that they line up some milestone incentives and rewards for themselves. I rewarded myself with an exotic kind of chocolate every 5000 words, and dinner out at 10, 25 and 40K. Also I had a daily incentive: If I hadn’t had to finish my daily words before watching the next episode of DS9 a few years ago, I’d never have finished the novel that won me the Unhanged Arthur – Canada’s top prize for unpublished crime/mystery manuscripts – last spring. I’m not saying that to brag but to show how a combination of small sticks and desirable carrots can help us reach bigger rewards than we dreamed possible.


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