The Start of Something New…. and a little scary

It’s June 1st.

A big day for me. It’s a big day, well, for a few reasons.

I arrived in Lawrence Kansas to attend the Novel Writing Workshop at KU. ( ). The talented Kij Johnson is our instructor.

I found the Residence Hall and checked into my dorm room. Dorm rooms really haven’t changed much from when I was in college. These beds seem to be quite a bit higher off the ground though. I wonder if they have more injured students from falling out of bed, drunk….

The place is actually very nice. The campus is beautiful and the town is a verdant treasure. I was the first one here this morning and I hauled all of my stuff up to the second floor, unpacked, and wandered around the building. Most of the other students have not yet arrived. I did me two others, Barbara and Elizabeth…. I hope I remember their names… I’m not good with names.

I planned on writing. I had time, a beautiful afternoon and a wrap around porch! What a great setting. But something told me that June 1st is about more than just writing. I set this day to make other changes as well.

I would reward myself with the opportunity to write, only if I did something physical. I figure 60 minutes a day is reasonable. I could break this up into two, 30 minute sessions, or dive right in and take on the whole 60 minutes.

Since I really don’t have any idea what our day to day schedule will be like and I’m not sure when the others will be settled in, I decided to change into my jogging clothes and explore this town.

I encourage all of you writers out there to do something physical each day. EACH DAY. This could be walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rock climbing… anything that moves your muscles and pumps your blood.

Since it has been quite a while since I jogged daily, I didn’t want to cause myself a heart attack. It would spoil the whole workshop experience. I walked a brisk pace for 3 miles, then jogged for a quarter mile, walked a quarter mile, then jogged a quarter mile. It took me 61 minutes. I didn’t curl up and start thinking, plotting and writing. I went out and got some exercise. I feel very good about that.

NOW I can sit down and think and plot and write…. That’s my reward. Writing is a reward for me, when I do other things that I’ve been putting off. 

Writing was something I did, everyday, no matter what. I put off important things like scheduling and payroll and book keeping, just so I could write. I managed to get all of those work-related items completed on time, but it was rushed. I don’t like being rushed. Mistakes happen when you are rushed.

Making mistakes in my line of work can be lethal. I try to avoid that whenever possible.

That’s what June 1st is for me. Getting fit and using writing as a reward.  Start slow. Make small changes.

I have a goal of finishing two novels by November. By finished I mean edited and then professionally edited. I don’t have that much time considering one novel still needs about 10,000 words and the other about 60,000.

The novel I’m working on here in the Lawrence Workshop isn’t one of those two. This is a brand new novel.

I’ll have to finish something soon. I don’t want three uncompleted novels running around unsupervised. Two, I think I can manage, not three.

But my point of this event, this workshop, is to use it as a defining moment in my creative life. I’ll look back on this time and say to my self “This is when I finally felt like I was a writer.”

You don’t have to go to a workshop for two whole weeks to accomplish that. But it’s something I thought about during the 11 and a half hour drive here. I NEEDED something, a sign or event, to help mark my way on my creative road.

Pick anything. Make it special to you in some fashion. Use it to create that spark that allows you to make a change in your life.

Reward yourself with writing. Make your body healthy. This improves your mind. As writers, your mind is your only creative muscle. Treat it well.

I’m going to commit to 60 minutes of some physical activity a day. It might not be all at one time, but it WILL total 60 minutes. Only then, will I reward myself with writing.

Try it out and let me know how you feel after a month.

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