Forget my critique partners or editor taking the proverbial whip to my manuscript and making it bleed red, I’ve already done it about five times before they even get to it! Ooh! I could have used a stronger verb here…my plot has a saggier middle than me…my love scene makes me cry—and not because it was so satisfying…
Yup, I can really rake myself over the coals. But I’ve learned that while I’m so quick to prohibit myself from watching Being Human for not meeting my word count, I have to be just as swift to reward myself. Believe it or not, that was hard for me.
I’m the person who doesn’t impulse shop or treat herself to a new shirt. I’ll buy my husband a new gadget rather than spend $7.00 on a book for myself. Some may call that selfless, but it’s actually guilt. I have a guilt complex when it comes to spending just for me. Having kids only deepened the neurosis! Armchair psychiatrist here, but growing up, I watched my parents sacrifice for my sister and I when it came to private schools, clothes, extra curricular activities…they always put themselves last. My mother used to joke, “I haven’t bought a new pair of drawers in years!” TMI really, but as an adult I adopted that mentality. So, you understand why it has been a struggle for me to actually reward myself.
But I find that setting aside those little presents for obtaining a goal helps to motivate me. It’s not about buying things all the time or spending money. There are simple luxuries. As a writer, I don’t have nearly as much time to read as I’d like. So for reaching a word count goal, I get to indulge in Thea Harrison’s Serpent’s Kiss in her Elder Races series. Believe me! This is an awesome treat! For finishing a book, my husband cooks stuffed mushrooms and friend eggplant for me. For selling a book, my husband takes me out to our favorite restaurant, Carrabba’s.
Being hard on myself is not a negative thing because it helps me to constantly strive to better myself and never become complacent. But I also need positive reinforcement. It’s not selfish to baby or pamper myself. The same hand that slaps my forehead in “what the &^%^$# are you doing?” is the same hand that can pat myself on the back, say “well done” and pop a Symphony chocolate bar in my mouth. Actually, it feels—and tastes—much better!