by Francine Puckly
The journey to honing your craft and completing large projects is a long, arduous one. It takes dedication and commitment, and even the most driven and confident individuals need incentives to keep going during those hair-pulling, “why-am-I-doing-this-anyway?” moments of doubt. It is imperative that we take the time to reward and recognize our creative spirits for the completion of the hard work we tackle each day.
As Annie mentioned in The SMART Key to Your Carrots (Sept. 22, 2014), it’s critical that your established goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to the task at hand, and timely—a realistic timeframe in which to complete the work. In creative work, it’s easy to lose the long-term focus as we march toward the completion of a project that may take six, twelve or eighteen months to finish. In the novel writing I undertake, large projects are broken into smaller tasks, and rewards are set in proportion to the completed work.
I establish a large carrot that encompasses the entire project, but each of the smaller tasks has a small reward associated with it. These baby carrots are nothing big and expensive—I’m a starving artist, remember! It might be a single rose for my desk, a steaming cup of chai from my favorite café, or an hour to play hooky and browse the travel section at my local bookstore. But the large reward at the end of the project? Now that’s something pretty special. It has to be in order to keep me moving toward the horizon.
So what projects need carrots?
Ask yourself: What are the things standing between me and my long-term goals? What am I having a hard time completing, either from procrastination, time constraints or intimidation? What task haven’t I started because I’m afraid to fail?
These are carrot-worthy tasks.
Afraid to dip your toes in the ocean of social media but your agent or editor expects a strong presence? Give yourself a reward for opening a twitter account. Indulge in a bigger reward after you’ve made 10 tweets and learned how to retweet something you loved.
Struggling with designing your website? Give yourself a carrot for setting up and purchasing your domain name. Then give yourself little rewards for each page you design (your home page, your blog page, etc.). Then a BIG reward when it goes live!
Illustrating a picture book? Reward yourself when you complete the sketches. Pamper yourself after each completed spread. Reward yourself handsomely for the completed project. It doesn’t matter if it sells or not. You must keep rewarding your creative spirit.
Try it for a week. A month. A year. See how much you can accomplish when you give yourself the credit you deserve!