Take today for instance, I set two alarms. One for 4:30; one for 4:45.
The first alarm is purely symbolic. I will not get up at 4:30 a.m. I simply refuse. I set the first one as a reminder that the second one will be coming soon afterwards.
Once the first alarm goes off, I start my “mantra”. The chorus to Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You” starts playing in my mind.
Then the second alarm rings. The “stronger” part of the song is what makes me sit up. I repeat it out loud.
I don’t know about the majority of the world, but I can’t see through the crud covering my eyes when I wake up. I trip over things, I walk into walls and by the time I have everything gathered and I am heading out the door, I feel like I’ve already had a morning workout. But I know by now that this is just the beginning. My guru, Reggie, will make us work hard! And it’s all worth been it because I can see the results. I started this journey sometime around January and I am stronger.
Which is partially my point.
Yesterday was the end of a weekend writing retreat. My first retreat in solitude. I have been to writing conferences, listened to speakers, critiqued and had my own work critiqued in various small groups, but I have never been to a retreat in which time was completely mine to manage. I could read, sleep, write, draw. Basically, I was the instructor of my own writing workout.
After working a couple hours the first day with a critique group, I focused on revising a manuscript that I know has promise. Although I didn’t meet the goal I had set for myself, I was astonished at how much I accomplished.
Recently I read an article by Jody Hedlund on her website about figuring out when you are finished revising, editing and ready to submit your work. She suggested making it through each of her five points.
If you had asked me at this time two years ago if I could make it through that list, no way. Last year, I was getting close but I still didn’t feel strong enough. After reading the article and coming back from writing intently all weekend, I am now ready.
Which brings me back to my morning workouts. Writing isn’t so different than my time at the gym. Had I expected to hold a plank the first week I attended boot camp? Could I dead lift without tipping over? No. And neither was I ready as a writer to submit my work without building the strength, core confidence and revising/editing endurance that it take to get a manuscript in shape.
In all endeavors, I believe there is a part of each of us that feeds our negative selves saying things like, “Your arms are still flabby! Straighten your pose!” and “You use to way too many adverbs!” However, we have to keep at it. Giving up, stopping in the middle, skipping our morning workouts (physical and writing) adds fuel to that furnace of self-doubt.
I challenge you to set step-by-step goals, work towards them and don’t give up. Whether they are mental, physical, spiritual or personal goals, when you realize you can check each of those off your list as “accomplished”, you will be transformed and a stronger person for it.