A Writer’s Thanksgiving…

Through the ruff timesI used to write weekly posts on things I’m thankful for as a writer, and I think I need to get back into the habit. It was fun—and helped me keep perspective because even on weeks when the writing (ahem) sucked, I could always come up with things I love about being a writer.

So, being as it’s Thanksgiving and all, here are (a few of) my week’s things to love about being a writer:

  1. Getting to work sprawled on the sofa, with dogs curled up on my feet. Ahh…what could be cozier?
  2. Dinner-table debates about the merits of the serial comma. (No, I’m not kidding. Yes, this is geeky. It makes me oddly proud that my kids, ages 11 and 15, care about this as much as I do.)
  3. Luscious words. Ever spent a few minutes luxuriating in the sounds of your favorite words? Scintillate…susurration…escutcheon…finial…Lilliputian…
  4. Brainstorming story ideas with friends or family.
  5. Reading lots and lots of books. And calling it work :).
  6. I love the way ideas that were determined to hover just at the edges of my vision scamper after me when I head out for a walk.
  7. And I love reading pages aloud after 500 rewrites and have them, finally, miraculously, sound good.

:-) Cheryl

Week 2 Challenge Check-In

I just finished week 2 of my personal end-of-year challenge to get exercising again, and I confess discouragement. A nasty cold/sore throat has set up house in my chest, leaving me totally wiped out. So…exercise? Not happening so much. My personal rule of thumb: if I get exhausted walking up a half flight of stairs, I don’t work out. (Radical, I know.)

On the plus side, I’m still working on that exercise habit by spending the time every day.

Thoughts of exercise are now firmly linked to the desired trigger. I get up early, write an hour or so on my fiction WIP, and then go down to my little exercise area. I hold to the hope that someday soon, I will go down there and lift weights again, because I was just starting to have fun with it!

Patience: it is *not* my best thing! (Yes, I know. I’m in the wrong profession, but what else can I do? I’ve got this writing bug bad.)

WEEK 3 GOAL (same as week 2): Continue to spend at least 20 minutes each morning lifting weights, riding the exercise bike, or doing yoga. (Or, if sick, a gentle walk or meditation will do as a substitute.)

Habit Boosts and Hurdles

iStock_000007377790XSmallI’m on day #3 of my second week developing a new exercise habit. Not that I didn’t exercise before, but it tended to be an on-again, off-again event, leaning more toward “off” in the past few weeks, when a nasty episode of tendonitis in my Achilles has made my exercise of choice (running/walking) off limits.

How are things going, you ask? I’ve hit both moments of encouragement (boosts) and moments that drag me down (hurdles). I thought I’d share…


  • On Write to Done, Mary Jaksh recently posted this article on how exercise can improve your writing. Thanks, Mary!
  • One obstacle to exercise in my life is time—and this pressure cooker recipe for bean and pasta soup saves me lots of it. The soup is healthy, vegetarian (thus pleasing the non-meat eating members of my family), and yummy. I made it with homemade vegetable stock (a breeze in a pressure cooker), which infused it with extra flavor, and the parmesan, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar topping, gives it the feel of a gourmet restaurant offering. Less than an hour’s work provided me with dinner and a week’s worth of delicious lunches.


  • Sickness! I woke up yesterday with a wicked sore throat and it’s progressed into a full-blown, knock-down head cold today. I made it through my (modest) workout yesterday, but today’s plan for intervals had to go. My solution? The dogs got a short, slow walk…one that was easy on my sore Achilles. Not a perfect workout, but I feel like I honored the intent of my challenge.

I’m hitting ups and downs, but so far, so good!

Smile Cheryl

End-of-Year Challenge

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CHALLENGE TO SELF: Develop a regular exercise habit by the end of the year.

WHY?: I can be a little…obsessive in my writing habits. As in, in my desire to write without sacrificing anything else in life, it’s easy for me to neglect things like, say, exercise, eating well, and taking the occasional time to enjoy life.

WEEK 1: Spend at least 15 minutes a day cleaning up my “exercise area”, which had degenerated into a catch-all for empty boxes, dog toys, and Halloween costumes that weren’t *quite* put all the way away.

REPORT: I just successfully completed week 1! My exercise area—in a basement that’s actually a large crawl space—is relatively clean, although I did discover that our boxer likes to dig up the exposed dirt on a regular basis. Luckily, the shop vac lives in the basement, too.

One reason I blog is to share thoughts and ideas about how writers can thrive in this crazy life we’ve chosen (or, as is often the case, in this crazy life that’s chosen us.)

Why? Two reasons:

  1. Because writers face challenges that can discourage the faint-of-heart, from gloomy reports on the publishing market to inevitable moments of writer’s bock to marketing snafus to struggles with personality traits that can block creativity or even plunge us into depression
  2. AND because we overcome those challenges to fill our days with creativity, joy, and love. And other good stuff like that.

So you’d think I would spend all my time writing about creativity and brainstorming exercises and seducing the muse, right?


Okay, I DO blog about those sorts of things, but creativity doesn’t exist in a box that can be neatly separated from the rest of life. Creativity, health, fitness, diet, relationships—they all get tangled together. Right now, I think my fitness level (or lack thereof) is holding back my creative side. I’ve “min/max’d”. Ever heard of it? It’s a gaming term for putting all your “character points” into a single skill or attribute (intelligence versus strength, for instance, or writing versus cardio) while neglecting the others.

So, inspired by Leo BaBauta of Zen Habits, I’m tackling my lack-of-fitness problem using his 6 Habits method. In a nutshell, that method entails:

  1. Pick ONE habit you want to develop at a time. (This is a big one for me—I like to try to make approximately 512 life changes at once. This may be why I am not always successful.)
  2. Commit to this change publicly (…hence this post.)
  3. Break the habit into 8 baby steps. Really, really TINY baby steps. (Step 1, put into action this past week: spend 15 minutes daily cleaning up my exercise area—which suffers from severe entropy issues and looked more like a junk pile than an exercise area.)
  4. Choose a trigger for the habit. (For me: I will exercise daily after doing my early-morning writing.)
  5. Publicly report your progress (gulp.)
  6. Each week, move on to the next baby step. Move slowly. Be patient. Build the habit.

So far, so good. And now that I’ve told y’all about this plan of mine, I’d better make good, or risk cyber-lashings. What about you? Planning any changes before the end of the year?

WEEK 2 GOAL: Spend at least 20 minutes each morning lifting weights, riding the exercise bike, or doing yoga.

Wish me luck!

:) Cheryl