Learn How to Jam

How to Make Your Writing Adventure Harder


No. 128 | By Christine Carron

In an entrepreneurial group I’m in, a woman shared that she had launched a sales campaign for a new program. That meant, among other things, she’d thought through the program itself, made the sales page, designed the email sequence, was promoting it on social media, etc. 

As that is a lot of amazing work, I responded to her post with: “Congratulations! Those are huge wins!! Are you happy dancing, or what?!?!!”

Her reply: “I’ll celebrate when I make a sale.”

I made no further comment. Her response was a bit deflating. (My guess is you felt the energy splat even just reading the exchange.)

It definitely didn’t motivate me to engage further. What is more problematic, however, is the impact that mindset—i.e., that inner rule on what is worthy of celebrating—will have on her own motivation and productivity. She’s making her entrepreneurial journey harder. Not purposefully I’m sure; she probably thinks that being “hard on herself” is helping. It’s a belief many share, including lots of writers. 

Celebration Stinginess Is Not Helping Your Productivity

When I shared this story with the group of writers who I’ve been coaching for a year now around sustainable creative productivity, it totally warmed my heart when—to a one—they had physical “oof” reactions when I laid down the “I’ll celebrate when I make a sale” reply. They are all well-versed at this point in how detrimental that way of thinking is to productivity. It will drag it like nobody’s business. 

So, yes, if your goal is to make the writing adventure harder: Be as stingy as possible when it comes to celebrating progress. 

Stingy. Withholding. Miserly. Ungenerous. Scrooge’ish. Pick your word.

Inner Stinginess is a Fast Path to low motivation. That’s a big problem. Because to get our writing work done we have to be motivated. It’s the fuel of the journey. We want to be filling our motivation tanks up at every possible turn, but inner stinginess is like poking holes in your tank. It results in you needing more fuel to run, and the fuel you do put in drains out faster. 


We want to conserve the motivation we’ve got, right? And make the best possible use of the motivation we have. To do so, we need a strategy other than Inner Stinginess. 

The research of professors Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer shows that the feeling of progress is what boost motivation over the long haul—and, let’s be clear, the writing adventure, like the entrepreneurial adventure, is a long haul endeavor:

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. 

And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.* (emphasis added)

So if we want to be creatively productive,  we have to make progress and experience that progress by claiming it. 

That entrepreneur had gotten a lot of great and important work done (i.e., had made progress), but was cutting herself off from the motivational boost of all that effort by refusing to give those accomplishments their due. Inner Stinginess. She was hoarding her praise for when (and only when) the external validation of sales were achieved. 

Celebrating Everything is Motivational Super Fuel

A sale is absolutely a celebratory moment. Just like getting a publishing deal is, or securing an agent, or being awarded a fellowship—or whatever next “big” writing goal you are working toward. But so are all the moments of progress that lead up to achieving those big goals. Even more, it is both making progress and the experiencing of that progress by generously acknowledging the day-in-day-out wins that actually makes it easier to achieve your big goals.

So remember: Cultivating Inner Generosity when it comes to celebrating progress wins—big, small, and everything in between—is a Power move. It will patch up the holes in your motivation tank and make it so much easier for you to move forward on the writing adventure with confidence, ease, energy, and lots of momentum. Vrooom, vroom! 

(But, okay sure, if you want to make the adventure harder, stick with the stingy . . . ;) 

Source: The Power of Small Wins, Harvard Business Review by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer