Progress Report: Goal Setting

CalendarSo, it would appear that I have dropped off the face of the earth or have writers’ block.  Truth be told, the last three weeks has been one of the most productive periods of creativity (and fitness) for me in a long while.  I began using my calendar to cross off the days that I accomplish my goals:  writing 1 hour or 3 pages a day and running or strength training.  I was tempted to post an update at one week, but I didn’t want to jinx the momentum.  So, after three weeks I feel pretty good about giving a progress report.

Something pretty incredible happened in me that first week:  I started jumping out of bed eager to write.  I also gave myself both the flexibility to write whenever I could get to my notebook (versus a set time) and the trust to get my pages done because I am excited about telling myself this story that I am writing.  I have not tried to plot out the first draft.  Instead, I am following the story where it leads me and shutting down my inner critic, which always cuts me off at the knees in the first draft.  One result is that I am enjoying the journey of my heroine, which inclines me both to check in every day to see what happens next and to write up to six pages a day.  The other result is that my subconscious doles out information about the world I am describing and its inhabitants just before I get to a place where I think I will get stuck.  I will have a dream or see a newspaper article or Em will say something, and I then put two and two together.  So, over all I am enjoying this process.

On the writing partner front, I have met with a new partner twice now, and the accountability of having something to review each week keeps me moving.  She is a gifted poet, but she knows my excuses and how to encourage or, more importantly, keep me from wounding myself.  I also attended an online workshop with writer Cary Tennis, whose workshops I have attended before in person, and I had the pleasure of fleshing out a short story that I started in a writing exercise with my writing partner.  There is something to producing a work about which I don’t feel any stakes or pressure that seems to bring out my best, most quirky writing.

On the exercise front, I am getting similar results:  I want to run or lift every day.  My body is built for it and demands it.  I am keeping to a very slow ramp up to a running/lifting base so that I don’t get injured and over train too soon, which makes my daily input very doable and enjoyable.  And, if there is one commonality that many writers have it is a daily exercise routine, which does clear the mind and body of anxiety.  As I write this post, I am at my treadmill desk working towards 11,000 steps today.

Finally, I do have to add that it is important that I have rest days padded in and pay attention to my body and mind.  There is a difference between not feeling like doing something and being worn out.  It requires presence on my part.  I give myself permission to have a day off each week from writing or exercise to allow my mind and body to rest and come back revived.  But, there are some days when Em is having a tough time or that pull-up session killed and I have to back off.  These are the days that I am most inclined to beat myself up and do too much, which is counterproductive.   So, I have a compromise:  active rest.  What that active rest looks like is 1) Writing – write one true sentence/paragraph, the truest sentence/paragraph I know (a la Ernest Hemingway) and 2) Exercise – walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes or stretch/roll out muscle kinks.  Active rest keeps me engaged, but allows me to back off when there are other demands on my time or body.

So what about you?  Are you setting or working towards any goals?

What are your thoughts?