Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rewards

by Donna MacMeans

This time last week I was on vacation, walking on a beach in South Carolina, when I found a lightning whelk half-buried in the sand. I picked it up, noticed that a snail still lived inside, and promptly tossed it back into the ocean. The shell would have made a lovely souvenir, but not at the sacrifice of the snail.
Later in the week we zipped down to Savannah, Georgia where I found the reward for my shell sacrifice. A pottery corset. How perfect is that? Sitting on a cage, waiting for the crinolines, my statuette is light blue with a little filigree design. One shoulder strap is slipped down just like on my book cover. Perfect.

Now, perhaps you don't see the corset as a reward for returning a snail to its home, but I think this is a necessary game we writers play with ourselves. Good deeds eventually are rewarded.

Hard work also begets rewards, but sometimes those rewards are a longtime coming. So we improvise. We substitute our own reward system for reaching intermediate goals. Write a chapter, treat yourself to a reward. Submit to an editor, treat yourself to a reward. Receive a rejection, then definitely treat yourself to a reward because this business is all about submitting. You can't sell if you don't submit and (unfortunately) open yourself to the possibility of rejection.

So tell me how you reward yourself? Do you have a reward system in place for reaching writing goals? I'll reward one of the comments with a pink corset keychain.

57 comments:

Anna Campbell said...

Lovely post, Donna. On behalf of the snails of the world, I thank you! ;-)

Actually when I'm really struggling with my writing, housework becomes a reward! Now, isn't that tragic? But I tell myself if I finish a chapter (or a page - depending on how bad the struggle is), I can go and put away the washing. Oh, the endless glamour of life as an author!

Annie West said...

Hi Donna, I really enjoyed your post - probably because I respond to rewards.

I can give you two examples. One is that my crit partner (aka Madam Anna Campbell)and I instituted a system ages ago where we promised ourselves a special lunch somewhere near Sydney Harbour WHENEVER, not IF, either of us had a book accepted. This arrangement was made before our recent acceptances. Not only does this work as a reward, it's also a great incentive! We're a few lunches behind at the moment which gives us lots to look forward to.

On a smaller scale - a friend sent me a thank you gift which consisted of the largest block of fine Lindt chocolate I've ever seen in my life. I was desperate - I knew I'd make myself sick if I followed my instinct and scoffed the lot. So I told myself I could only eat it if I was writing new text (not editing) and then only after I'd written a certain number of pages a day. That choccie fuelled half of 'For the Sheikh's Pleasure'. The sequel to that story is that I told this to someone who'd read the book who then nodded sagely and said 'That explains it - chocolate is an aphrodisiac!' Hm - I suppose that love scene was rather vivid!

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Annie, nice to see you here! Hmm, yes, that love scene... Drifts off with a smile on her face.

You're right. I should have thought of our lunches when Donna asked about rewards. Much more glam than me putting away the washing! Sipping champagne (well, all right, scoffing champagne) and getting very giggly while eating great food, flirting with cute waiters and looking at Sydney Harbour. That's much more how I pictured life as an author! Away with you, laundry basket!

Buffie said...

I'm not a writer, but I do reward myself every week. Between the demands of working outside the home and keeping up with my family, life keeps me extremely busy (as it does everyone else!). So every week, while doing my grocery shopping, I treat myself to one new book. It's a small reward but it usually last the entire week.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Buffie, I am like you, my books are my rewards. If I am very, very good I allow myself edible treats like chocolate sometimes but I have to be very, very good. LOL

Lily said...

Nice post... I am not a writer but a student and when I think I achived my goals for the week... I always treat myself to chocolate in huge quantities.

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna -

I wish I could convince myself housework was a reward. I'd be the most rewarded person on the planet! As it is, I've become complacent to live in amidst chaos. However, if you ever feel the need for a more "rewarding" life, come visit (smile).

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Annie,
I like the lunch concept, because...well...I LOVE to eat! However with your two rising careers, I would think scheduling with Anna would be a bit of a problem.

Chocolate and love scenes must definitely go together, don't they? I admire your restraint with the Lindt. I probably would have scarfed the lot of it and been sick for days. No will power here.

Thanks for visiting!

Donna MacMeans said...

Buffie & Dianne - Books are the best reward, aren't they? They sit in a pile and call my name. I love to relax and unwind with a good book. Plus - no calories! My problem is that once I start reading, it's hard to stop till the book is done and everything else, including writing, gets put on hold. I did read Christine Wells SCANDALS DAUGHTER while on vacation last week. That, and my corset, put a real glow on the vacation.

Donna MacMeans said...

Lily - Congratulations! I'm a bit of a schoolie myself. I always thought if I could afford it, I'd go to school endlessly, taking classes that had no relevance to any degree, but were just interesting. Of course, my fantasy world would involve no tests, or at least no concern on how I would perform on said test - which would be the rub.

I've tried teaching at the University, but the old joy wasn't there, it was too much like work. Of course, the fact that I was teaching accounting might have been to blame as well.

Good Luck on your studies. Chocolate and a night out always make great rewards for accomplished goals.

Kirsten said...

Lovely post, Donna! And timely--I just hit the 20,000 word mark in my WIP (I'm shooting for 60,000 for the rough draft, so this is one third) and went to bed feeling very good about myself. My reward? I was thinking about getting a latte and doing some more writing...

I'm not always good about recognizing achievements. I'm always thinking about the next goal, and don't often slow down enough to mark achievement of the last one. (Besides which, I can't eat chocolate, because they cause migraines, so the very best reward in the world is denied to me!!) My husband is much better. When I signed with an agent, he was the one who insisted we go out to dinner (I just wanted to get started on more revisions).

Part of this is because writing is its own reward. When I've had a rough week, the best thing I can do is spend some time on my WIP.

Gillian Layne said...

Donna, I cannot wait for your book--the excerpt was wonderful!

Darling Anna, if you need a house to clean, consider yourself invited over to "celebrate" anytime. . .:)

Anna Sugden said...

Great post, Donna - I love your china corset!

It's so important to have rewards - writing is a tough enough game!

When I'm writing, I get to play on my computer games when I finish my targets for the day. Or I get to do a Hanjie puzzle (Japanese picture logic puzzles)

I'd love to be able to have lunch overlooking Sydney Harbour to celebrate a sale!! I have a bottle of special champagne gathering dust as I wait for that wondrous event. I'll have to think of a special treat ... possibly shoes *grin*.

Foanna - we need to help you find better treats!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Donna! Fun post! I long ago decided that in this game, in order to stay sane, you had to have a system of rewards in place. :> I also believe in having a Rejection Plan. It's a little ritual I go through when I get a rejection that gets me through it instead of moping IN it. Grins. It involves, chocolate, wine, roses and a spa visit (not necessarily in that order!) Anna, you wild woman, I'm glad to know you "do lunch" with Annie instead of just doing laundry as a woo-hoo for doing great things! As to rewards, every time I complete a manuscript, I treat myself to something fun - a massage, lunch with a friend - something like that. Also, I had promised myself that when I sold, I would buy something wonderful to commemorate the sale, which I did just the other day. **VBG** As to books, they are a staple of the diet rather than a treat for me. Like protein or the daily servings of fruit and veg, I can't live without them. And they're always a treat too! Like you, Donna, I have the challenge of not being able to put them down though, so other duties go wanting if I've got a good one in hand like CTC or SD. :> Have a great day, everyone!

doglady said...

Very important post, Donna. Little rewards keep you going. Now the lunch with Anna and Annie sounds divine. I cracked up when I read about Anna putting away the washing as a reward!! I have to tell myself that if I DO the washing then I can write for a few hours as a reward. Otherwise I would have to go to work in the nude. (Trust me, NOBODY wansts that!) My clothes would NEVER get washed. I do reward myself when I final in a contest. I buy myself an antique tea cup to commemorate the occasion. Of course I only have two so far, but that is beside the point! My clever nephew built a display case for them and it is HUGE. I told him "Bo, honey, that is kind of big for two tea cups." He said "Aunt Pam, I made it for all the teacups you'll have to buy in the future." See why the kid is in my will?? Oh and my best friend made a shadow box depicting a scene from my Avon FanLit winning chapter and gave it to me for Christmas. Now she is working on one for my Royal Ascot winner. I have some really good friends.

Joan said...

Cleaning as a reward? Anna...that's not natural.

LOL I thought about you this morning as I was cleaning out the cabinet under my kitchen sink in anticipation of the plumber coming tomorrow. Ugh, it was no reward.

I don't give myself a lot of little rewards but for the big things (like finalling in the GH) I'll have a spa trip for a facial or pedicure. Chocolate is part of my very existence as are books like Jeanne said.

Hmm...I think I'll go reward myself for cleaning out the cabinet with a trip to the grocery :-)

Aunty Cindy said...

Doesn't Reward = chocolate???
Or at the very least eating out? Okay, maybe that is for the larger accomplishments. And the BIGGEST REWARD of all has got to be seeing my book in the bookstore!

Since I'm like Jeanne and Donna and once I start reading I have a hard time stopping, when I'm in the midst of my latest WIP, I don't allow myself to read unless I do meet my writing goals for the week. Besides, chocolate is really bad for me to consume in anything but miniscule quantities and what fun is that?

Like Kirsten, I often "reward" myself by writing even more. Crazy, I know, but I've NEVER been crazy enough to consider any form of housework as a reward! Annie, you really must stage an intervention for the CP of yours! :-)

AC

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

I typically treat myself to either a movie or lunch out with friends or a trip to the bookstore. Right now, I'm in waiting mode to hear back from my editor but I'm also a freelance copy editing and have been working on a big project the past few days. I should finish and turn it in tomorrow. To celebrate and give my brain a break, on Tuesday I'm going to go see 3:10 to Yuma and hit Books-a-Million to buy J.R. Ward's latest, my friend Tanya Michaels' latest, C.L. Wilson's first and probably a couple more books. I might even buy a new outfit for the M&M conference next weekend.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten -

You're so right. Writing is it's own reward, but darn it - it's hard work as well!!!! I always feel much better "having written" than actually doing it, (or worse) contemplating all that remains to be done.

Hugs on the migraines. I learned the hard way when I finaled in the 1998 GH contest with my Romantic Suspense (never to see light again). I celebrated at National on Thursday night with champaign and chocolate and was out for the rest of the conference with migraines. Never again! I've since learned that it isn't so much the chocolate as dehydration that kicks mine in. I much prefer that as a trigger than chocolate (smile).

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna - Isn't that corset the neatest thing! It was serendipity that it was there (the last one!) waiting for me. Unfortunately, the shop didn't give me the artist's name or I'd write to tell her.

I don't think I want to know about Hanjie. I'm already hooked on Suduku, thank you very much.

Donna MacMeans said...

Gillian, thank you so very much! I'm glad you liked the excerpt. The two potatoes in a twisted sack is one of my favorite lines as well. I was inspired by Rodin's bronze that is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Here I am in the gallery, staring at this poor statue's genitals trying to think of the best way to describe it - then giggling to myself as I turned away. My husband, who just read the book last week, said - so that's why you were looking at that statue for so long. Poor guy. I wonder why he thought I was studying the bronze crotch so intently (smile)?

AndreaW said...

Buying new books and reading is usually my rewards to myself. And, of course, I occasionally partake in a slice of Reese's peanut butter pie. Yum!

~Andrea

Donna MacMeans said...

Jeanne - Did you ever get multiple rejections in one day? Given your plan, that could be a major celebration (grin). My RWA chapter has an incentive basket filled with chocolates and other cheap little prizes. You get to choose something from the basket if you submit something, final in a contest, or receive a rejection. The basket works as a reminder that rejections are a sign that you're submitting, and a reminder to everyone else that submitting is necessary for a sale.
So spill - what did you buy? I've treated myself to a couple of tiny things in the name of selling Mrs. B - but the corset is the best. Now I can move on to celebrating the sale of THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT.

Susan Seyfarth said...

When I was in grad school, I suffered dreadfully in finance/economics. I managed to get through the text book by promising myself that for every one chapter of econ/finance I finished, I could read a chapter of something fun. (Sometimes two if the "fun" chapter was offensively short.) For the record, housework is never a reward. No, no, no! :-)

Donna MacMeans said...

Doglady - My dear, you are blessed. What a fabulous nephew! I'm tempted to put him in my will (smile). Your friend is lovely as well. I did a shadow box for my time-travel. It looks fabulous, but now I'm not interested so much in finishing the book! Lesson learned. Good Luck! Winning the Royal Ascot shows you're well on your way.

Donna MacMeans said...

Joan, you might see me at the grocery as well. I'm surrounded by people here who insist on being fed for some ridiculous reason. Right now there's no milk in the house, and my Diet Coke stash is quickly dwindling. There are some necessities in life that even writing can't replace. Kudos on cleaning out that cabinet under the sink. I'm afraid I'll find something living under mine if I venture a peek. Better to keep that door closed.

Donna MacMeans said...

Here, here AC. Plus the lady is so darned prolific that her house must be tiny as a pin. Heck, I bet you can even walk in her front door without tripping over size twelve sneakers left by someone's son, or without battling her way through cobwebs that would intimidate Indiana Jones. Most people who visit me know that they'll get no further than my front porch. Believe me, they prefer it that way.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, can I clarify the housework as reward comment before you all get the TOTALLY wrong impression! When housework is the reward, it shows you how *&^%%$%$$# hard the writing is sometimes! So if you invited me over to your place, girls (lovely, yes, please, WHEN?), all I'd do would be sit by the pool and expect you to ply me with nice things out of the liquor cabinet.

Hi Gillian! Lovely to see you here again. Andrea, I'm with you. Books are staples of the diet! They don't count as treats. Well, they do really...

And Doglady, the antique cup and saucer? Now, that's a class act. As is your nephew's cabinet. Actually, strangely, I like dusting really nice things like antiques. So the no housework in other people's places rule would be broken if I came to you! ;-) Oh, dear, back to sounding tragic again...

Donna MacMeans said...

Trish - you're such a busy woman I don't know how you can find the time to celebrate without doing it on the run. (You know, chocolate is pretty convenient that way). I love going to the movies. It's not so much a reward to me as time to spend with my husband. Lunch with friends is always fun but it takes so long I start to get antsy about getting back to my laptop. I have to be careful that one reward doesn't turn into procrastination.

Have a blast at the M&M conference. We expect a report back.

Donna MacMeans said...

Susan, you mena Econ/Finance is not FUN! Actually, I had a lot of problems with those as well - that and reading accounting texts. I couldn't study late at night because they always put me to sleep! Studying for the CPA exam was a real struggle. I think that's really why I passed it the first time I took it, because I couldn't face all the fighting to stay awake it took to study.

Donna MacMeans said...

Andreaw - Peanut butter Pie - yum! We should compare recipes. My son always requests I make two for his birthday. One pie for him exclusively, the other for the rest of the family. Fortunately, I only get about one small piece. It's gone before I can go back for more. My family works diligently to keep me on a diet - at least I think that's why there's never any seconds of the good stuff.

Helen said...

Rewards aren't they wonderful and I agree that we should all reward ourselves when we have achieved something. I buy more books and read more I settle myself with a good book some Tim Tams and loose myself in another world and really enjoy it.The October catologue is up at Rendezvous and your book is there Donna so in the next few days I will be putting my order in and I am really looking forward to reading it, I am halfway thru Scandals Daughter at the moment and loving it. The corset is beautiful Donna so glad you could treat yourself to it you deserve it. Great post thanks everyone.
Have Fun
Helen

Anna Sugden said...

Psst Donna - hanjie puzzles are much more fun than sudoku or kakuro. You get a picture at the end of it *grin*

Foanna - I know what you mean. I find cleaning the bathroom spurs my muse faster than anything else!

Doglady - how cool! I need a display case or several for all my penguins ... and one for all my signed hockey pucks

Christine Wells said...

Donna, I completely identify with your snail-corset story. I don't know whether it's karma I believe in, or checks and balances, but I have the idea that you do get rewarded for enduring a lot of bad luck, the good deeds you do and plain hard work.

I don't tend to reward myself, though, unless it's with a good night's sleep! Sleep is precious at the moment. But your post has inspired me to be kinder to myself. Next time I hit a milestone like handing in a proposal or finishing a first draft, I'll definitely do something to honour the occasion!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Helen (waving), thanks for the kind words. Hope you enjoy Mrs. Brimley. Someone told me they picked it up already from Books-A-Million. No BAM stores around me, though. I'm waiting to see it hit the shelves myself.

Anna - How does one sign a hockey puck? Aren't they like hard, black rubber? Do you have them use a special white pen? Hmmm...the things you learn hanging around the banditas.

Keira Soleore said...

No rewards in place, Donna. Thank you for the prod in the backside. I'm going to adopt the suggestion on the Tim Gunn (Bravo TV) show I saw earlier this afternoon. Take a whole lot of treats I want, write them on separate pieces of paper, and drop them all all into a box a friend gave me. Then I can draw one whenever I achieve a writing mini goal.

Donna MacMeans said...

Christine -

I emphasize. I really the days when little ones demanded all your time and energy. Sleep would indeed be precious. But you do need to reward yourself more. A night out with your dh might work. I recall those occasions were rare as well when the kids were little. I'm sure you'll find something

Keira Soleore said...

Annie, hello to from RNTV. *waves* Great idea! Eat chocolate while writing a love scene. I see lots of love scenes in my future...

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna, you're welcome to send me e-mails to celebrate having met your writing goals, before your do your housework. I mean, do some celebration Bandita style, then your way.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, will you share your Nutella with me if I do? ;-)

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna, now you're playing hardball. Nutella?? I'll have to think about that one. Do you have an alternate suggestion, just in case, ahem, I cannot grant you the original request???

Annie West said...

Donna,

Had to laugh about your comment on how difficult it is to organise those celebratory lunches with Madam Campbell. It's got harder recently as she's no longer in Sydney nearly as much. Maybe that means a really spectacular lunch when we get together next - can't wait!

As for my restraint with the chocolate - I'd love to agree, but honestly, that block was so huge! No way could I have sat down and eaten it all straight away, much as I wanted to. Though, if you want to believe I'm a model of restraint, then go right ahead!

Annie

Sue A. said...

Reading is a reward that I give myself. And I admit I can be very free with this reward, I read when I want to. I like the selfish nature of reading because it's one treat I don't have to share with anyone.

Annie West said...

Keira, waving right back.

Well, I don't know if eating chocolate helped make the love scenes any better but certainly the writing process seemed to go smoothly. I'm telling myself there's a definite link.

Hm, maybe I should go and buy some Lindt for this current book!

Annie

anne said...

I love rewarding myself with a juicy book and an herbal cup of tea with a scone. SHopping would be a nice option but I try not to indulge too much.

Aunty Cindy said...

LOL, Donna! My place resembles yours. The size 12 sneakers belong to my DH, and at least this time of year I can get away with saying the cobwebs are Halloween decorations. Oh, and mine is also loaded with dog hair! My pug-hua-hua sheds even in winter.

Keira, GREAT IDEA about writing rewards on slips of paper then drawing one out. I'm gonna do that TODAY!

AC
who doesn't mind a bit that I seldom have house guests

doglady said...

Aunt Cindy, you must post a photo of the pug hua hua. I cannot wrap my mind around that combo. I have a chihuahua and my mother has a pug, but I still cannot visualize that combo. Now, you've all done it. I will have to ask my 72 year old (Happy Birthday yesterday)mother to make at trip down to the Air Force base to buy me some Nutella. I can't get it where I live. We three kids practically lived on it the three years we lived in England. Anna C you are welcome to come and dust my antiques any time! I am giggling madly at Donna's study of the Rodin!

Donna MacMeans said...

Keira - I LOVE that suggestion of the reward box. I think I might give that a try.

AC - we're alike in so many ways. I have a dog as well. She's a mutt, an unplanned cross between an Australian shepdard and a curly haired terrier. Lots of shedding, every season of the year. She's about 15 years old so I doubt I'll have her for much longer - yet, I bet we'll be sweeping up her dog hair for several years yet.

Donna MacMeans said...

Okay - I've never had Nutella. Tell me what I'm missing.

Donna MacMeans said...

Anne - I love the picture you paint of a book, a cup of herbal tea and a scone. Yum! Is it true that calories consumed while reading don't count?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna, I'm totally cracking up about the potato/Rodin image. I'll never look at a nude again w/o laughing. :> AC, I want to see the pug-hua-hua too. On the dog hair, w/ Dalmatians, if you're wearing black they shed the white ones, if you're wearing white, they shed the black or liver ones. No win. As to my "prize" for selling/ turning in book one, I bought an iPod. For book 2, I have this lovely bracelet in mind that I've wanted for 5 years but couldn't justify in the budget... The DH is all for it, he's such a supportive love. :>

Donna MacMeans said...

Sue A, you keep on being selfish. Reading keeps us sane, imaginative, informed, active, engaged, interesting, and down-right fun to be around.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jeanne - I'm sure the museum docent was getting a little antsy. At least I didn't pull out my journal and start sketching. Nevertheless, there are some period details you need to get right and if that requires close study - so be it (smile).

Joan said...

A study of a Rodin?

Go to Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas...into the mall. A Colossus is there in all his glory...ahem, everything is colossal on him!

Donna MacMeans said...

Joan - LOL. Cleveland was a little closer. Actaully, I never made it to Las Vegas until quite recently. I Know what you mean about the statues at Ceasars (extremely big grin).

Caren Crane said...

Donna, like Kirsten, I have trouble remembering to reward myself. I'm usually taking it in stride and concentrating on the next goal. I have no idea why, but I have trouble reveling in the moment.

I will work harder at it. I know if I don't learn to reward myself now, I never will. And I certainly can't rely on my darling husband to prod me into it. He may or may not even realize something is big news when I tell him. *g*

Donna MacMeans said...

And the winner is.... Lily!

Lily is you could visit my website at www.DonnaMacMeans.com and leave your contact information, I'll get the pink corset keychain in the mail to you pronto.

Thanks everyone for visiting.

Donna