Take Time to Celebrate

“Every writer has an editor who tries to strangle the writer before he ever gets started.” Craig Johnson, the author of the Longmire series and a Wyoming resident, said this at a talk I attended. I scribbled it down in my notebook, because it resonated with me. I find it’s nice to have another author confirm what you’ve experienced, so you know you’re not alone.

I have this tendency of setting high standards for myself. As soon as I achieve something, I readjust the bar, setting it even higher, and then undermine the accomplishment I just achieved. It’s a flaw of my self-motivation and work ethic, which normally are good attributes. But sometimes ambition leaves little room for acknowledging and celebrating your successes.

My writing group is amazing at acknowledging the achievements of each member. The right writing group can be life-changing. A while ago, one of our members brought in something that helped give a visual representation of our groups’ collective successes. Nellie brought in a quart-size mason jar filled with red wooden beads and a wicker basket. Every time we wanted to acknowledge something beautiful someone wrote, or each time someone had exciting news to share with the group, we’d take a bead from the jar and place it in the basket. Sometimes more than one to acknowledge the importance of the achievement.

Christy shared news that she’d submitted five poems to two different contests, and we were proud of her. Kate submitted her book to over twenty literary agents, and we were thrilled. All six of us in the group have had beads thrown in for things we’ve done. Each week, beads go in the basket and we not only take time to acknowledge and encourage each other, but we also have the basket of beads to remind us that we’re having success on a weekly basis.

Last week, we placed the last bead from the jar into the basket, and as a reward, we’re going out to lunch to celebrate. It’s something significant that counteracts all of our personal attempts at undermining our achievements. I don’t undermine any of the achievements the other writers in my group make, because I see them as these huge successes that they are, and that doesn’t shift with my self-doubt, because they’re removed from me so I can see them as wonderful things. And in this way, we help keep each other afloat by preventing our new expectations from pulling us under and ignoring what we’ve accomplished.


Share your recent achievement with us, no matter how small it may seem. Whether you’ve submitted your work somewhere, finished a project, attempted something new, wrote for the first time in a while, I’d like to hear about it. My recent success is that I’ve made significant progress on this round of editing my novel.


  1. // Reply

    Excellent news on the novel progress, Mandie! 🙂 Is it horror?

    My latest achievement is being 1/3 of the way through the second draft of my new novel, ahead of schedule (I’m trying to beat my typical 14 month turnaround…but we’ll see, there’s still a long slog ahead yet and life does love to throw stuff up) 😀

    1. // Reply

      It is horror!
      That’s great news on your progress, Rachael. I’m setting the bar really low this time, so the next novel, if it doesn’t take me years to get through I’ll be doing amazing. I think it helps if you don’t set the novel aside for years after you finish it before getting serious about the editing.

  2. // Reply

    Great news all around and I am happy to know that you’ve made some wonderful editing progression. I don’t have any achievement to share at the moment, but this post put a smile on my face.

  3. // Reply

    I don’t have much news, but right now I’m working on my Clash of Tides rewrite! For me, that’s amazing because I finished my manuscript, and I’m now working on the next draft. I’m so excited to start submitting next year and then go back to 9/Nine Realms.

    Your post inspired to me to start realizing all the little accomplishments I’m making towards my writing =)

    1. // Reply

      That is fantastic news, Aka!! Getting back to work on a manuscript is huge. And to have plans to submit it next year is wonderful. Congratulations!! These are not small things at all.

  4. // Reply

    I submitted a query letter pitching “Growing old is not for Sissies” to AARP. They don’t usually accept submissions but replied to the query saying they’d get back with me in eights weeks.

    I’ve got about as much chance as a fart in a whirlwind as I’ve never read anything even remotely humorous in their magazine or tabloid. Personally, I don’t think it would hurt them to loosen up a little as most seniors love humor.

    I’ll probably pitch it to some other magazines for Seniors once I stop procrastinating.

    It’s my belief you don’t bad-mouth your own work. Let someone else do that. You’re only as good as your last story, and the next one will be even better.

    1. // Reply

      Any time you submit your work, I think it’s worth celebrating. That’s one of the only parts you have any control over is whether you’re sending your work out for consideration.
      I also agree with not bad-mouthing your work. I have a similar approach when submitting, where I try not to say no for a publication. Granted, sometimes later I realize it wasn’t the best fit. I select places that publish the genre of my piece, and make sure my piece fits their requirements, but after that I try not to talk myself out of submitting it.

  5. // Reply

    Nothing really new since we self published our joint project of short stories “Dead Ends” except that it’s soon on Amazon Kindle… when we have time we will have an online release on Facebook Live… To me the advantage of self-publishing is that you don’t have to wait forever for a release party.

    1. // Reply

      That’s great, Björn! Plus, you’re constantly publishing new work on your website. I think it’s all part of giving your ideas a voice and allowing other people to enjoy your work.
      The Facebook live for the online release sounds like a lot of fun!!

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