Tag Archives: workout

111.43% | (The End)

31 Dec

Why didn’t anyone tell me that reaching the end of this draft would feel like winning the lottery, or meeting the entire cast of Lost, or finding out that Starbucks would like to give me free lattes for the rest of my life?

Or, that finishing a second draft (also known as a complete rewrite) would feel utterly satisfying, but in a drastically different way than finishing the first draft did?

Or, that knitting a zillion strands of gossamer spiderweb, without leaving loose ends, would be as rewarding as it was challenging?

Or, that by the end of the novel, when you’ve basically just been this diligent stenographer spying on the lives of your characters for months, watching them struggle and conquer and feel, they peek at you through that fourth wall, satisfied with you for being patient enough to see them through to the last page and tuck them in for sleep?

This is how I feel. 

Months of patient plotting and planning and crafting did not prepare me for the satisfaction I felt when I typed word number 78,000 yesterday.  That’s a full 8,000 words past my original goal (hence the title of this post, as 78K is 111.43% of that goal), and I’m more than pleased.  This way, the manuscript can gain or lose a few thousand in edits and still be a good length.  

Because this post will turn into a jumble of randomness if I don’t structure it somehow…

…here are some things I learned along the way.

1) Goals are Good.  Seriously good.  Diligent December was a raving success, as I wrote 26,290 words this month.  Though I didn’t get to write every day, I tried.  When I did get to write, I made the most of it.

2) I Can Write More Words/Day Than I Thought I Could.  I wrote 26,290 words this month, with only eleven days of actual writing.  That’s an average of 2,390/day.  Turns out 1,500 words every single day is hard for me, but 2,300 every other day works well for me.  Weird.

3) I Like Writing By Hand.  With the exception of the last chapter, I wrote everything in December by hand, and then typed it up as I went.  That means I drained at least two pens of their poison and filled two Moleskine notebooks.  (One was fuschia, and the other was lime green.)  This helped me feel more attached to my characters and their stories, possibly because I felt like I was journaling about my own life.  Also, it was easier not to dwell on how many words I’d written without a running total at the bottom of my screen, and it was easier to remain focused without the Internet at my fingertips.

4) It’s Important To Feel.  Without feeling, words are dead.  Without closing my eyes and trying to experience what the character is feeling, or think how she’s thinking, it’s hard to get into a scene.  Conversely, it’s amazing to get wrapped up in the emotion of it all.  The word visceral comes to mind.

5) Therefore, It’s Important Not To Rush.  The last day I posted (22 Dec 09), I was so incredibly tempted to FINISH, since I was only 2100 words away from my goal (even though I’d already written 3600 words that day).  I made the decision to wait, to not rush the climax.  It was a good one.  Monday rolled around, and unlike most first-days-back-from-long-vacations, it was a Monday of Awesomeness.  I wrote 3450 that day, putting my heart on the page, but it still wasn’t done.  Same story with Tuesday; several hours and 3834 words into that day, I was so ready to be done, but again, I didn’t want to rush the end.  Wednesday came around: 2810 words later, with heart and soul and time put into it, I reached the end.  I’m glad I ended up with 10,000 extra words of quality conflict and resolution, rather than 2,000 words of crammed, subpar, just-to-say-I-made-my-deadline-and-I-really-want-to-finish crap.

6) Enjoy the Process.  It’s been over a year since I started working on this novel, and I’ve still got several months of edits ahead of me.  I’ve loved every single challenging minute of the process so far, and I think that’s an imperative part of being an aspiring author.  I love learning how to do this, learning how to be diligent, learning how to use so many different parts of myself to their maximum potential.  Being a writer, you have to create, think, feel, communicate, organize, prioritize, observe; you have to be ruthless, passionate, subtle, patient, economical, and honest.  I’ve used so much more of myself than I ever have in any single paid job I’ve ever had.  Ever.

7) Alone ≠ Good.  Though writing is a solitary act, usually (for me, always), having people in your life is imperative to being healthy, happy, and productive.  I’d still smell like coffee grounds and spilled milk, and my manuscript may or may not stink just as bad, if my amazing husband hadn’t been so supportive and encouraging with my desire to write. (Thanks, Love!) Also, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to connect with such a rich group of supportive blog friends, and that you’ve pushed me, encouraged me, and held me accountable to do what I set out to do.  Thank you, too.

8 ) Enjoy It, Then Keep Working.  One thing my workouts and my writing goals have in common is this: I get to a point where I start getting excited about what I’ve accomplished — doing yoga, running a mile, saying no to cheesecake, meeting whatever writing goal it is that I’ve set — and then, somehow, I get comfortable.  My workouts slip…and I eat cherry pie…and have whipped cream on my mochas…and then it’s back to square one.  Treadmill time.  

I’m determined to avoid this with my novel, so here’s the plan: I’m taking two weeks (until January 18, the Monday after my birthday) away from my it, and then it’s time for a read-through.  In these two weeks, I will rest and relax but also continue on with being diligent, in areas such as (much-neglected) organizing of closets and storage bins and stuff like that.  I plan to catch up on everyone’s blogs, though (I’ve gotten so behind, but I’m really really excited to see what you guys have been up to!), and finally finish reading The Time Traveler’s Wife (How, oh how, did I manage to keep that thing on the table and not get utterly lost in it this month?).

Sorry for the week I’ve been absent, by the way.  Thank you to all of you who’ve been patient and stopped by in the meantime.  Guess all those blogs I haven’t written in a week were just dying to get out, and spilled themselves into this one, very huge, post.

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone — be safe and have fun!

Good Day, Sunshine

24 Oct

What a week, you guys.

This is the first time in a very long time that I know exactly how I spent my days for an entire week.  It was one of those make-the-most-of-every-moment weeks, one of those wow…I-feel-like-I-did-something-great weeks.

So, this morning, I did what everyone should do when they’ve worked hard: I rested hard.  Well, except my definition of rest is sleeping until 9:00am, putting on my super-cute apron, and whipping up a fluffy batch of lemon-ricotta-buttermilk pancakes for breakfast.  That’s restful, right?  As is enjoying them with my husband over a French press and the last of my cherry-pistachio biscotti.  Okay, I’d better stop, because I’m starting to get hungry again…

Official Update #5 of the Oktoberzest Project is another pleasant one to deliver:  1333 words for yesterday.  That brings my five-day total to 6,183 words added to the manuscript.  I’d say this has been a fruitful project, and it’s definitely helped that you guys have been so encouraging along the way.  A huge thank you to everyone who’s commented and left such kind words for me to find on my writing breaks!!

I know it’s Saturday, but well, I will have a chunk of time this evening to work, so I’m going to extend the Project for (at least) one more day.

On an unrelated note, I leave you to ponder the awesomeness of this little anecdote:

Riding out my you-can-do-it momentum, I tried something new last night: a cycling class at the gym.  I tried to sneak in unnoticed, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well.  The instructor, middle-aged Gary who sounds like the Saturday Night Live announcer, said “You must be neeeeew!” and proceeded to single me out for the rest of the class.  Oy.  The awesomeness came in mid-workout, when the newest (ridiculous) Shakira song¹ started to blast through the speakers, and Gary says, “Let me hear all you she-wolves out there hooooooooowl!”  

Some people did howl.  Some of these people were he-wolves.

That is all.  Oh yeah, and I am extremely sore today, due to the pressure I felt to stick out the entire class and actually do well, since Gary kept correcting me and telling me to “Puuuush harderrrrr!” from the front of the room.

¹”There’s a she-wolf in your closet / Open up and set her free / [insert a limp ow-oooooo here!]”…um, you can hear it here if you’ve never heard it.

Remy Strikes Back!

15 Sep

Remy in the DrawerCat Scratch Fever:  Does that not sound like the stupidest name for an ailment in existence?  

Yeah.  That’s what I thought, too, when my doctor told me I had it.  

A few weeks ago, I noticed some knottiness near my right elbow, and it felt like a bruise.  Naturally, I freaked out and thought it was cancer.  I scheduled an appointment, shelled out $40, and next thing I knew, I was told I most likely had the weirdest-named condition on the planet¹.

Turns out, Cat Scratch Fever is also a song, but having never heard of it before that very moment, I looked at Dr. Burke² like she was crazy.  She assured me she was not crazy, and that it was indeed a real disease.

What is it, you ask?  Apparently, there’s a bacteria on kitty claws that isn’t so friendly to human lymph nodes.  If you get scratched, and the kitty has this bacteria, it infects the nearest lymph node and causes it to swell.  Hence the knot near my elbow, and later in the week, the pain in my armpit that made it impossible to sleep on my side³.

I had to go back in for some blood work and a sonogram two weeks later, just to make sure it was Cat Scratch, like she thought, and not something else.  By the way?  The sonogram people should really inform you before they start doing their thing that it is okay to interrupt them if you need to use the bathroom.  I learned this the hard way.

Dr. Burke left me a message today, while I waited for three hours at jury duty¨ – the blood tests came back, and it is definitely Cat Scratch.  

When I told my husband, he said, “Remy strikes back!”  If I had bonked his head on the doorknob before I got infected, I’d definitely think he was on to something there.  I’d want revenge on me, too.  Poor kitty.  

Oh, by the way:  my life and well-being aren’t really jeopardized by Cat Scratch Fever.  It hurt for a while, but now it’s just the knot, which should go away in time, with the help of antibiotics.  I’m amazed my doctor was familiar with this ridiculous ailment, and even more amazed that someone I picked based on her same-name-status with a character from my favorite TV show has turned out – so far – to be the best doctor I’ve ever had.

Biggest Loser starts tonight – anybody planning to follow this season?  I spent an hour sweating at the gym in preparation, so I wouldn’t feel guilty watching it.  


¹To my knowledge.  I’d love, love, love to hear about any medical condition with a name that could steal the award from Cat Scratch in the Who-Named-That-Disease-And-Why? category.  

²Who I chose not only for her fine reputation as a doctor, but based on her name, since it reminds me of Lost‘s amazing Dr. Juliet Burke, played by Elizabeth Mitchell (and rumored to have made it through The Incident of the Season 5 finale, and thus is rumored to be remaining on the show…).

³Though, to my amazement, it didn’t hurt to do push-ups or planks with it.  The body is a weird thing.

¨Got selected for a panel for a custody case.  Apparently the woman involved in the case was a nut who showed up two hours late every time she was called to court, and went missing for two hours while dismissed for a brief bathroom break.  The judge got fed up, pushed the trial to today (from yesterday), and then, what happens?  She was two hours late again.  When she finally showed up, they all decided for some reason that a jury was no longer needed.  I waited for three hours this morning, just to get told to leave again.  Unlike everyone else, I was a little disappointed, because I thought it would be an interesting experience.  Maybe next time.

So Many Posts Start With S.

9 Sep

Just something I noticed.  I even told myself last night, when I wrote my latest post, that I could not start the title with an S.  

And look what I did: I wrote about sincerity.  Now, even in my writing about starting titles with the letter S, I’ve gone and done it again.  

It would be a little silly, I think, to tease you into a post and just stop right there.  Who wants to visit someone’s blog only to read about rogue S’s that sneak their way into everything?  Here’s some other stuff to make this worth your time.  

Writing is going well today!  Though my time is not abundant, I’m making the most of it and I really like what I got accomplished so far on the novel this morning.  This is a feat in and of itself, since it’s the first I’ve written on it since last Thursday, due to our weekend trip.  Fortunately, I left off in a good spot, a place where it was easy to slip back into the scene and pick it back up.  I love when that happens.

Plus, I woke up sore – in a good way – because I spent some much-needed time at the gym yesterday.  Long weekends are fun, for sure, but for some reason I always crave a treadmill at the end of them.  I’m thinking the barbecue and the sweet-roll-stocked breakfasts had a little something to do with that craving, as did my tendency to feel sluggish after eight-hour car rides.

This week is looking like a busy one, but if the writing and the workouts go anything like the past two days, it will be a good one.  Plus, Glee starts tonight, so (unless my DVR refuses to cooperate) I’ll be watching that, and probably singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” at the top of my lungs along with Lea Michele for the next few days.  My DVR had better cooperate, and that is all I’m going to say about that.


PS: Remy the Cat is doing just fine, thankfully, after suffering last week’s Incident.  Thanks to everyone who felt sorry for him and hoped he’d get better (for both his sake and the sake of my guilty conscience).

Navy Shirts & Zebra Skirts

30 Jul

Confession:  In the past week, I’ve watched Coraline more times than I’ve done the 30 Day Shred.  My husband said the movie was great – I wouldn’t know, since I fell asleep a third of the way through.  I tend to do this (accidentally, of course).  Just goes to show you how great Lost is, since I never once fell asleep while watching it.

Anyway, back to my confession.  

The negative?  All those posts ago, I was gung-ho about making it through thirty straight days of pain.  Now, here I am, having to admit I abandoned the Shred after the delicious massage I got on our anniversary.  It would have just been wrong to put all those knots back in my neck after she worked so hard to dig them out!  Right?

The positive? After eight long months, the LA Fitness opened in my town.  Finally.  I repeat, finally.  I’ve been going there, instead of doing the Shred.

Everyone I know was beginning to wonder if the fabled gym would ever actually open its doors.  They promised a December opening back when I signed up last November, and, well, it’s almost August now.  For months, it loomed desolate on the corner, bricks in tact but with a jungle for a parking lot.  When I saw a sign that boasted “LA Fitness opens today at 4pm,” I texted my friend, Ha.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  

Lo and behold, the myth was true after all.  

I’ve been there every day since.  Seven minutes each way beats thirty, for sure.  Right off the bat, I noticed two distinct differences between the new gym and the old one.  

First: it’s so nice to see a variety of people working out.  At the old gym, it seemed like only the fast and the super-fit frequented it.  Not so, at this one.  Just as a church is not for the perfect, a gym is not (only) for the in-shape.  Everywhere around me, I see people learning how to lift weights or do crunches for the first time.  Not everyone has proper clothing to work out in, and it reminds me of the days when I’d walk the track in my jeans.  It’s kind of like watching The Biggest Loser in real life, and I hope we all stick around long enough to see some real transformations.

My second observation is not so heart-warming.  However, it is inspiring: it inspires me to talk some sense into one of the sales-people who works there.  Who on this planet works at a gym, and wears the company’s standard-issue navy t-shirt with a zebra print skirt and red heels?  Or, tucked in to a black skirt that goes higher than the belly-button and is paired with gold gladiator sandals?  I thought maybe it was a one-time offense, but no.  It is an everyday thing, apparently.

So, I abandoned my shredding goal.  Truthfully, I don’t feel that bad about it.  The shorter drive leaves plenty of time for a solid workout and time to get a lot done on my novel.  Now, the novel?  That is a goal I will accomplish.  

I’ll keep you posted on the novel (and perhaps on other outrageous outfits worn by the sales girl).  In the meantime, don’t spoil Coraline for me.  I plan to rent it one morning or afternoon, drink a lot of coffee, sit in an uncomfortable spot, and not fall asleep.


9 Jul

“Do you get up this early every day?” 

Caleb usually works the evening shift at Starbucks, because he likes to sleep in until noon.  This morning, though, he made my latte at the (not so) early hour of eight.  

“Yes,” I told him, “I try to get up at by seven or eight so I can get all the things done that I love to do!”  

Truthfully, I’d get up at 6:30am if my bed wasn’t so comfortable.  But seven works.  I get up and get dressed, as if I was headed to an office, and not just to the corner of my bedroom.  I leave, get my coffee, and come back home – to work.

Every day, when I write, I sit at an old wooden desk that was my grandfather’s.  It is in the window corner of our one bedroom, and faces our little porch.  I love my view from this desk: a jungle of plants, the birdhouse my dad made from a gourd, and the occasional bird.  I drink my latte while I check email and this site, then I get down to business – make a schedule, make some goals, get to work. 

This morning, I came across a little blurb about discipline, and how important it is if you want to accomplish any goal:

Nothing worthwhile comes quickly, and nothing worthwhile comes without discipline.  Over life’s long haul, discipline works in every dimension of your life: financial, physical, mental, and spiritual….It’s easy to get caught in the trap of quick results when you focus on the results rather than the journey.  The truth is, the joy is in the journey, in the daily discipline of growing in the details of your mind, body, and spirit….The key is balance, consistency, and perseverance, all of which come from one thing and one thing only: discipline.

I love this quote.  We live in a world where people make our coffee for us, and all we have to do is show up.  We don’t sew our clothes these days – if we want something, we go buy it.  These are the times of instant gratification, in every single direction we turn.  When we set out to accomplish our goals, it’s easy to carry over these expectations, but nothing is more detrimental!  Whether it’s writing a novel or working out, it’s not realistic to expect instant success.  Discipline can be painful and hard – but it always pays off.  

 Right now, my main goal is to complete the second draft of my novel.  A secondary goal is to complete 30 Day Shred in thirty days.  An ongoing goal is to cook delicious, healthy food (and not break the bank) for my sweet husband.  

These goals don’t happen overnight, and they won’t happen at all without discipline.  Magazines, novels, television, the pool, and even other creative endeavors tempt me and vie for my time each day.  While I know these would be so…much…fun…I also know it will be an even sweeter reward to achieve my long-term goals.  

If discipline sounds undesirable or unattainable to you, be encouraged.  I think it sounds that way to everybody, at first.  I’m no expert at this.  I’m just a girl who has come to see value in discipline, so I’m working on it.  Somewhere along the way, it’s become part of my life and I’ve even started to enjoy it. 

How do you incorporate discipline into your life?  Do you enjoy it yet?


PS:  Discipline is one of those words that looks really strange to me after I read it out loud a few times.  

PPS: The blurb comes from a book called God is in the Small Stuff.  It sits on my desk, but I’ve never opened it before.  I just happened to get the urge to read something out of it, and I’m glad I did.  It motivated me.


8 Jul

Twenty-minute workout DVD.  Beginner level.  Two days in a row.

Thanks to you, Jillian Michaels, now I can hardly walk up – or down – the stairs.  

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I purchased Thirty Day Shred at Target.  Let me just say this: I love it.  I really do.  It’s just…a little surprising that I feel so much pain from twenty minutes, especially since I’ve been working out consistently for a while.  

If you read my last post, you know I started my second draft this week.  So far, it’s going great, and today has already been productive.  Since this project requires much time and focus, I thought it wise to come up with a home-based workout. Back in November, I signed up for the new gym in town.  They said construction would end in December, so I started going to the one twenty minutes down the road.  It’s now July, and it’s still not done.  (LAME.)  So, I always try to make the drive worth my time.  Usually, I do some combo of weights and cardio, except on yoga days.  As a result, it takes about an hour and forty minutes of my day, including the drive.

An hour and forty minutes is valuable time, as anyone who does anything is well aware.  Add in my mane of curls – clean hair means an additional half hour.  An alternate means of working out is necessary if I truly want to focus on my second draft.  I bought Jillian Michaels’ workout, even though I was hesitant to substitute twenty minutes for my usual hour of activity.

Little did I know that these twenty minutes would make me feel so sore.  I can’t believe I’m only on level one, out of three.  I’m pleased to know I won’t be getting out of shape while I focus on my writing.  So, for all you busy people out there – this workout is great.  Just be warned that you will feel it the next day.