Make Good Choices

There is this scene in the Disney remake of Freaky Friday–the one with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan–where therapist Jamie is dropping teenager Lindsay off at high school and she shouts out the mini-van window, “Make good choices!” at a pitch that all can hear.  Lindsay, of course, hunches her shoulders in mortification and hurries inside.   This scene always makes me laugh.

I have my own little Jamie Lee Curtis who lives on my shoulder to remind me to make good choices.  I find her more appealing than the traditional angel or devil.  Now, in my case, she is usually popping up in response to diet and exercise, helping steer me toward making better choices. Deciding to have the vegetables instead of the fries.  The salad instead of the burger.  To sacrifice that half hour of sleep for some exercise.  I find my little shoulder companion more helpful than making sweeping declarations that I’ll lose 10 pounds in a month or eat nothing but vegetables or whatever.  One day at a time.  No punishing myself for not making good choices yesterday.  There’s only today and the choices I make now.

But you know, this applies to more than health and fitness.  It applies to writing too.  Very few of us are fortunate enough to do nothing but write.  We have day jobs.  We have families.  We have friends.  We have (hopefully) other hobbies.  And sadly there are only 24 hours in a day.  So until we locate and develop rapid space travel to a planet with a 30 hour day (wherein, I would have time every day for an afternoon nap–oh  bliss!), we have to learn how to prioritize and put the writing first, even though we might rather go out with friends or see a movie or (if the book is going badly) do laundry.

To you ROW80 newbies, welcome.  If you’ve been talking to our veterans or checking out the About Page, then you know that we are not like other writing challenge.  We don’t ask you to give up your life and unplug from the world.  That’s ridiculous and impractical as a long-term strategy for success.  OUR goal is to be flexible, to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy that will work for every writer.  Your goals are up to you, and you’re free to change them as Life Happens or if you think you’ve bitten off a bit more than you can chew or if you were too conservative in your original estimates of what you can accomplish.  Just write up your new goals in a post and link to it on the next check-in.  For more on the importance of goal setting and what makes a good measurable goal, I point you to my Round 1 kick off post.

To you ROW80 veterans who are back for Round 2, I challenge you to look back at your experience with Round 1, at the goals you set then, whether they worked for you or not.  Maybe you fell off the wagon (a lot of us did).  So what?  That’s over and past.  Make a vow this time to have your own little shoulder companion sitting there urging you to make good choices.  Maybe for you it will be your favorite writer.  Maybe you’ll have a little Stephen King or a Madeleine L’Engle or a Nora Roberts on your shoulder.  Maybe you’ve got somebody else who will inspire you to put the writing first.  No matter who you choose as your personal mascot, let there be someone who can push you that extra mile.  And don’t worry…the rest of us will be there to back you up as well.

Good writing!

10 comments

  1. Great introduction! As some one who fell off the wagon, I can say the best part was being able to look back at my updates and see where I went wrong. What feels like failure can easily be turned around into something positive for the future.

  2. I guess Lindsey did not listen to her TV mom!

    I’m the Queen of Life Happens. I think the most important thing to remember, in order to not be completely derailed by Life, is to simply ACCEPT that Life Happens, rather than fight it, and just immediately restate your goals. If you fight the situation, when stuff happens, then you feel bad. You put yourself down, you get depressed. You stress about not accomplishing your goals, and that doesn’t get you anywhere, other than STUCK.

    If something happens, say, “Woops, nuts (or whatever your chosen curse is…), I won’t be able to do my goal for this week. But what CAN I do?” What can you do? Write for ten minutes a day until things get back under control? THAT’S A GOAL! Write it on your blog! Write for five minutes. Free-write, to relieve your stress. Do whatever small goals you think you can do, but don’t give up! That is the beauty of this challenge. It’s more a challenge of self-discovery than about competing or killing yourself over an arbitrary goal.

    Last round, I had to completely re-vamp my entire goal. I had everything planned out, but then things exploded! I had this existential crisis, things weren’t looking good, I’ll tell you! But rather than just throwing in the towel, like I would have had to do with another writing challenge, when I calmed down a bit I looked at things in a different view. I started taking baby steps, and started listing my goals, not from beginning to end, but from check in to check in. And because of that, I finished Row 80 feeling better than I would have if I had accomplished my original goal, because I stuck with the BIG picture, rather than the arbitrary goals set by someone else that really didn’t mean anything to me.

    Good Luck everyone!

    Mel

  3. I like this, actually. I’ve met enough writers that I admire that I can have a rotating cast of firm-but-sympathetic-authors cheering me on. But in a pinch, I’ll take Jamie Lee Curtis – she is awesome!

  4. I just want to say thanks to all involved with this… this is exactly what I needed to make myself focus a little every day! A 30 hour day? Afternoon naps? Can I add a moment to put my feet up in the morning with my cup of coffee – just need 15 minutes🙂

    I am pumped!

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