Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stick With It

By Nichole Giles

Every day, as soon as my kids go to school, I make my way over to the gym. I only spend about an hour there, sometimes less, but unless I have a sick child, an important appointment, or a deadline, I take that hour each morning to prioritize my personal health.

And every January, I prepare myself for an over-crowded parking lot and a short wait time for the most popular resistance and cardio machines. The surge in attendance usually lasts through the end of January but by mid-February simmers down. There are always a last few stragglers who keep their goals going strong all the way through March, but by April those of us who are regulars have the gym back to ourselves with only the occasional pop in from “seasonal members.”

I think it’s wonderful that people will resolve to get in shape, even if they only dedicate a few months out of the year to try. But it makes me sad when those people who come to the gym in January, all eager in their new workout clothes, give up before giving themselves the chance to reach whatever goals they set.

A healthy body, like a healthy mind, requires regular maintenance. And what’s more, we make goals because we hope for something, we expect something of ourselves, and then we set goals when we determine the easiest possible way to get the things we desire.

I use the term “easy” lightly though. Think about it. When ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, their vision was much longer than their lives. And when the pioneers prepared to make a cross-country journey to the Rocky Mountains, they knew they were in for a long haul. When we become parents, it is not only for a few years, nor is it a job we can take temporarily until we decide it’s time to move on to something better, parenting is forever.

Now writers, we know all about goals. We also know about dedication and patience, don’t we? We write because we have to, because we don’t have a choice, and because very often if we don’t take some time out for writing, we get grumpy and grouchy and angry at the world. Well, at least I do. And we have goals, just like everyone else—the ultimate one being publication. Actually, no, I changed my mind. Our reachable goal is publication. Our ultimate goal is being number one on the New York Times bestseller list, fame, fortune, and iconic status. That’s what we really want.

But the Grand Canyon wasn’t carved in a day. Nor was it carved in a year. It took time. Lots, and lots, and lots of time. And if you’ve ever visited there you know that the millions of years of work the Colorado River put forth to carve that amazing place was worth it.

Make your goals worth the effort you put into making them. Whatever you chose to try this year, stick with it.

One more thought. One of the women in Authors Incognito is having her first book release party this weekend. She got the contract for this book after more than 110 rejections, and many, many years of writing and submitting. Now she has an agent, several manuscripts on the market, and the future is happy and bright for her writing career.

Talk about sticking with it!


Dan and Wendy said...

I've set some writing goals for myself, which began with starting a blog. The challenge I find with my creative writing is that I work as an accountant. So, for 9-10 hours a day, I'm very analytical. I struggle when I get home to flip the switch to my non-analytical/creative side.

When I come home from work and start on my lds fictional novel, my writing feels forced, and therefore, not very compelling to me.

Any thoughts or suggestions?



Nichole Giles said...

Good for you starting a blog. That's wonderful.

Have you ever tried stream of conscience writing? When you come home and are getting ready to work on your novel, open a blank page and empty your head onto the page--making sure to pour out all of your analytical thoughts--until you feel your creative juices start to flow.

Another thing I do--and it works for me even when my kids are being loud and demanding--is create a playlist of inspirational songs to listen to(usually on headphones) while I write.

Good luck with your novel!