My day started at the DMV. Kiddo #3 is now the proud owner of his driver’s learners permit. He’s driven twice today without event, and I managed to stay (mostly) calm through the whole experience. Today’s his birthday, and tonight he umps his first official game.

Lots of milestones in the life of my Stephen, shown here celebrating his birthday with the biggest ice cream cone made at the self-serve station at the restaurant where we celebrated. We know it’s the biggest because the waitress said so and took his picture.

As a mom it is easy for me to track and celebrate my children’s milestones.

As a writer pursuing publication, paying attention to milestones is crucial. In a career where your deepest places, poured onto the page, get rejected based on cold, hard numbers, it’s difficult to be vulnerable over and over–to keep hoping and believing and working. Even after that first published article or book, you’re going to face disappointment and rejection. Which is why I believe it’s important to celebrate those milestones.

Where ever you are in the writing journey, you’ve crossed a milestone. For most of us the first big milestone is writing something. The second is finding the courage to share it with someone else, and the third is walking into that critique group, writer’s conference, or writer’s group for the first time.

A huge milestone for me was actually saying to someone, “I’m a writer.” I couldn’t say that sentence for a long time.

When I typed the last page of my first novel, I crossed one of those I-can-never-turn-back kind of milestones. My family and I celebrated with a video and pizza. We had another celebration when I rewrote the book. Celebrating the milestones not only helped me stop and recognize progress, it helped my family see that I was serious about writing and reaching goals. In return, they began to show me respect as a writer instead of winking at my “hobby.”

I still remember the glory of my first published piece, and the delight of receiving my first check as a writer. I think it was only $20, but it meant something because I’d crossed a milestone.

Rejection letters are milestones, too. They initiate us into the real world of writing where we have to weather the hard knocks with the rest of the crazies who write for publication. Those are important crossing points–and that’s why you’ll get chocolate if you come to HIS Writers and let us know about your latest rejection letter. It’s not that we celebrate disappointment. We embrace the process, and then we celebrate our ability to survive it.

Here’s a challenge for you: Take a few minutes to assess your personal personal writing milestones. Consider making a time-line. Put a sticker or happy face on each date when you crossed a milestone. Next to your markers write little notes about the importance of that milestone. You may want to also put specific prayers, promptings, Scriptures, and promises the Lord gives you about your journey.

Hang your time-line above your computer. Next time you feel like you’re not making progress, look up to that tangible reminder of your journey. Acknowledge the courageous forward movement you’ve made.

Then be brave and tackle another milestone.

Could you do one more thing? Take a minute to comment on this blog and share some of your most treasured (or recent) milestones. I’d like to celebrate with you!