Tag Archives: motivation

Finally, Another Race!

After running my first Half Marathon back in May, I just haven’t been able to get myself motivated to get out and run. The weather is getting warmer, especially after this past weekend, and it’s getting harder to convince myself to get moving when I have to wait until late evening for things to cool off. It seems that when I don’t have a race to train for, I lack the motivation to make my workouts a priority. And after my awful run the other night, I was worried I had lost my running goove.

snack

But then last night, as I munched on my apples and peanut butter evening snack, I participated (for the very first time) in the Sunday night #RunChat on Twitter. It was amazing. So much enthusiasm for running! And at the end, they offered a 20% off  code for the Runner’s World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania this October. Conveniently, my little brother happens to go to school up at Lehigh University (located in the town of Bethlehem). And that was enough to convince me. I signed up!

Runner's World Half Marathon

This will be my second half marathon ever and a challenging one at that. According to the website, there are FIVE hills! But they claim that it’s all downhill after mile 7…

I let my parents know my plans and we’ve decided to make it a Runcation! I’m really excited — this will be the first time my entire family will be there to cheer me on during the race. And now I have the motivation I need to get back out there and start training!

workout summary

splits

And that training started this morning. Apparently, my internal clock decided that at 7am, it was time to get up. Even if I tried (and I did) I couldn’t get back to sleep for my normal wakeup time at 8am. I know, I’m spoiled. I checked the weather forecast for the day and it was calling for upper 80s, so I decided that since I was up, why not get out there and go for a run?

It wasn’t easy. Already it was muggy, but at least there was a slight breeze and the sun wasn’t too intense.

morning street

I ran my favorite route, the perfect 3.1 miles to the park, around twice, and then back home.

the park

It’s was beautiful this morning, and I think I might have to this again real soon.

by the pond

I noticed that I was feeling some pain in my left achilles, which I think is because my left calf muscle is feeling tight. To be honest, I’m still not sure my current shoes fit me quite right – I’m running on a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 8s that I got off Amazon for cheap. I can’t wait for the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s to go on sale, which should happen as soon as the new 10s come out. Then again, I might just head back to the running store and get re-fitted again. Who knows, maybe my feet and running form have changed and these aren’t the shoes for me anymore. Usually I have trouble justifying a running shoe purchase unless it’s really necessary, but I’ll definitely be needing some new shoes come October…

purple shoes

How do you know when it’s time to get new running shoes?

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What gets you up in the morning?

Serious question.

What gets you up in the morning?

When the alarm goes off and you open your eyes to see the sun peeking through the blinds, what is it that ultimately gets you to throw back the covers and swing your legs over the edge of the bed?

The logical answer here is that you have to be at work at 9am so you can earn the money to pay your bills.

For most people, this is the answer five days a week, and on weekends, you lay in bed for a few extra hours because it’s not like you have anything you have to do, right?

One day after work, I was sitting at home and watching TV, and I just started crying. Suddenly, I realized that this could easily be the rest of my life: Getting up and going to work, coming home to sit around, eating dinner before heading to bed, only to repeat the process all over again the next day. I was suddenly very, very afraid.

If that’s all I have to look forward to for the next 40 years, what is the point of living? Honestly, if all I did every day was go to work, eat, and sleep, what would be the point of it all?

At 24 years old, I never thought I would honestly be asking myself to identify my reasons for living. I mean, this is is my prime! I should be more excited about living now than any other time in my life, right? Then why was I suddenly feeling so depressed about my routine?

The fact is that for so many years, school had given my life meaning. Working toward graduation was this ultimate goal that propelled me forward. Once that was gone, I felt like I was floating. What was I working toward now? And I realized, from here on out, I was in charge of creating my own motivation. The universe wasn’t going to provide me with any more freebies.

It’s scary to suddenly feel that kind of freedom. It is 100% my choice whether or not I spend every day after work doing nothing, or if I use that time to work toward something I want.

But what exactly do I want?

This becomes the bigger life question. Before, all I wanted was to be done with school. Mission accomplished. But what now?

Well…I want to be a published writer; I want to have an exciting career; I want to be an accomplished runner; I want to live an exceptional life.

Then dammit, I had better be using my free time to work toward these goals! Screw sitting in front of the TV after work.

It’s moments like this when I grab my running shoes and lace up, or pull out my notebook to scribble down some notes.

Growing up is scary and I was not prepared for this part of the process. I thought it all came naturally, falling into your lap as you moved forward, but that’s not the case.

With freedom comes responsibility–you’re in charge of your own life now. What do you want, and how bad do you want it?

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When My NaNoWriMo 2012 Took a Detour

So sometime around twenty give to thirty thousand words, something happened to me. I was writing the story I had planned to write, but I was bored. I hated the story, the characters, everything, and even though I was about halfway done, I just didn’t have enough passion for the story to keep going. And I thought, why do I have to keep doing this? Why do I have to keep writing a story I know will never be worked on or seen again after December 1st?

Then I realized, nothing was tying me to that story, and while my characters were interesting in some ways, I knew they didn’t fit and could be used elsewhere.

And that’s when things started to get weird. My writing took a detour.

I started adding characters from different times and places. I broke all the rules I had established for my world. And I completely changed the focus of my story, instead working toward a daily writing habit rather than a cohesive (or coherent) story.

And as you might have guessed, this is not an easy thing to sustain. It was, in fact, harder to write whatever came to mind. Being limitless in what could happen was too much freedom within the confines of the page. I needed structure and didn’t have any.

Which is when things changed again.

Once it became about word count, it was no longer about a story and I had nothing to make me want to show up and write. There was no next scene coming up I was excited to write because I had no idea what would happen next. While this can be great if you’re in one story moving toward a goal but a little stuck, it just isn’t something that can sustain a writing habit – and once again, my motivation waned.

But still I push on (and am very close to the end!)

However, there are positives here. What pleases me the most is how when I sit down to knock out the word count for the day, I feel really positive. There is less pressure to push forward, only to show up, and I now feel as though I can show up and write each day. My main goal during this month was to cultivate a daily writing habit. While there were times when I worried I was making myself resent writing, rather than enjoy it, the good feelings when I show up to the screen tells me otherwise.

One difference however, after this month is over, is that I will definitely be writing more by hand. I’m sick of writing on the computer. It’s easier for word count, but it just sucks the creativity out of me. I feel like I’m writing a school paper rather than a creative story, and I admit I am just the worst when it comes to getting distracted.

I just need to make sure I finish the stories rather than leave them hanging and don’t misplace all of my notebooks like I did all though college. And one of these days, I need to go back and edit my college work and start submitting stories to literary magazines. I think I have maybe one or two that could work, and I’m finally beginning to understand what a short story should be. Somehow the concept eluded me in college, but now, after some time spent living and reading on my own, it makes a lot more sense.

With only one week left of NaNoWriMo 2012, I want to wish everyone a burst of energy and luck! Stick with it, only about two thousand words left for me, and whether you’re way ahead or way behind, as long as you keep showing up you are a winner in your own right.

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5 Tips to Staying Productive During the Holidays

This is my first week on winter break and like many college students without solid holiday plans, I am feeling a little lost.  With no harsh deadlines for school assignments or a professor reminding me every day how far along on my thesis I should be by now, it’s hard to maintain any kind of productivity or even accomplish more than one thing a day (if that…)

Yesterday I spent about 75% of the day in bed, moving only to eat and transport my stationary body to the living room where the tv is. I’m not proud of days like this and rather than be relaxing, they make me feel pretty awful. But I told myself I would get one day like that, just to remind myself what “being on break” used to mean, and the rest of my holidays would be productive in some way–and they will be, because I’ve got a plan.

1) Have a solid reason to get up in the morning. Okay, I admit, this morning when my cats woke me up at 7am, I should have gotten out of bed. And when my alarm went off at 9am, I should have gotten out of bed. And when I woke up feeling refreshed at 10am, I should have gotten out of bed. But I ended up laying there till about 10:45am, and this is simply because I didn’t have any reason not to. Had I thought of a good reason to start my day last night, solidified it in my mind and made it a priority, this morning may have turned out different. Hopefully tomorrow will be an improvement.

2) Have a specific to-do list. For some reason, seeing “read Lolita” or “write a story” on my to-do list just doesn’t quite motivate me to actually accomplish that goal. So instead, I try to break these larger goals into very small, specific accomplishments that are more tangible in the short term, such as “read 10 chapters” or “outline a story”. This creates a much higher sense of reward and keeps me moving through my list.

3) Do anything “productive” to get started. When I’m feeling particularly lazy, I find it extremely hard to just jump into my scholarly pursuits with any kind of enthusiasm. So I try to do small, productive things like clean my room, take out the trash, clean the litter boxes, etc. It’s amazing how just accomplishing one small, albeit unrelated, task makes you feel productive enough to take on the things that you really should be getting done.

4) Go to sleep around the same time each night and keep a general schedule. It’s easy to stay up till 3am when there is nothing weighing you down or forcing you to get up the next morning, and for some people, 3am is the most productive time of the day. But then you’ve ruined your whole next day, you have created a bargaining chip for not getting anything done until that mysterious time called “later”, and you’ve set off a chain of events that will probably keep you from doing anything productive for the rest of the week–at least that’s how it works in my experience. So I plan on getting to sleep around the same time every night, unless a book gets particularly good right around midnight (and they always do), and keeping to somewhat of a general schedule. Wake up, coffee, morning tv, a little physical exercise, shower, read/write, family time, etc. You don’t have to stick to it hard and fast, but trying to keep it in mind will keep your day a little more structured and hopefully productive.

5) Don’t Break the Chain. This is the Jerry Seinfeld method of writing every day. Simply use this website to mark each day that you get some writing done, or whatever else you want to do every day (you can create multiple lists), and don’t break the chain. Simple! After a while, you’ll see when you get most your writing done, and when you check back and realize you haven’t done anything in a week, you know it’s time to get something on the page.

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Filed under Living the Dream

Are you writing yet?

Happy November 1st!

As many of you already know, people across the globe are hammering their keyboards, furiously pounding out the words that will bring to life the ideas they’ve been thinking about for weeks, if not months.  And the real question is, how far are you?

Many people start right at midnight after returning home from whatever Halloween celebrations they attended. Lucky for everyone this year, Halloween was on a Monday so that chances of getting home intoxicated and exhausted are slightly diminished (except for college students). When I participated a few years back, I came home and wrote 300 words before falling asleep with my laptop on my lap. The next morning, I was up early and had another 2-3k done before lunch.

Your best bet is to get ahead early! Did you already hit the minimum word count for today (1,667 words)? Good, now KEEP GOING! This is when you are the most motivated and so use it.  In a few days or weeks, you’ll feel that motivation begin to waver and that’s when you start looking for tricks to get you through.

And make sure you’re having fun with it! Make your characters do silly things, or say things that are absolutely outrageous. In NaNoWriMo, word count is everything, and most of what you write now will get cut. Sure, write some good stuff too, but if you work too hard at being super serious, you might start to get worn down or write yourself into a corner. Do be afraid to throw some crazy stuff in there, a little levity is a good thing.

So consider this my enthusiastic send off. You’ve got a long task ahead of you and though I am not participating this year, I’m cheering you on! Go forth and write!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Writing

Having Readers

One of the biggest perks to going to graduate school for creative writing is coming out with friends who you consider to be your go-to readers. To quote my workshop professor,

You will rarely, if ever, find yourself in a room of reasonably like-minded adults you are not related to or sleeping with who are willing to attend seriously to your writing.

These are the people that you will continue to send your rough drafts to and get feedback from–well into your later years. Of course grad school isn’t required to find people like this. Even undergrad can promote this kind of kinship in people. A good friend of mine from my undergrad just recently sent me the revised first few chapters of her novel that she’s been working on and I plan on reading it and sending back notes as soon as I get a chance.

People like this are important in your life–they give you both the motivation of someone asking for the next installment of your story, but also that wise advise that will keep your work focused and grounded.

Just like Stephen King says in his book On Writing, you have to write for someone. Pick one person and write for them. Have that reader in mind and crank out that next 1000 words because they’ve been pestering you for days about what’s gonna happen next!

But it’s important to pick people who will be your Batman and give you the kind of feedback you need, not the kind you want.

Don’t sent it to someone who will just gloss over it and tell you it was “good” but give you no feedback. How is that going to help you?

Do send it to someone you trust enough to tell you what needs work.

After the Jump: More Tips on Picking Readers

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Happy National Coffee Day!

Seeing as this is the holiest day of the year, being that it is the day we celebrate the all-powerful beverage of coffee, it warrants a very special post. In celebration of this glorious day, let us purchase our favorite  brews, sit down at our desks or keyboards, and write till we need a refill! Then grab another cup and keep on going.

Because after all, Writers are the #4 most caffeinated occupation!

Here is a list of all the freebies you can get today thanks to Hip2Sip!

7-Eleven
Snag a FREE cup of medium coffee today only (9/29) from 7AM-11AM. Check out the 7-Eleven Facebook page for more information.

Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Cafe is offering up a buy one beverage, get one FREE coupon, valid through 10/5.

Caribou Coffee
Buy 1 Drink and Get 1 Free (of equal or lesser value) with the coupon found here (can print coupon or show it on your mobile phone) today only (9/29). Not valid on bottled beverages. Click here for more information.

Kikkoman
Get FREE Kikkoman Pearl Organic Soymilk Coffee today only! Check out this post for more information.

Krispy Kreme
Snag a FREE 12 oz. cup of the new Krispy Kreme Signature Coffee Blends; valid at Krispy Kreme locations in the U.S. and Canada today only. No purchase necessary! Click here for more information.

Thorntons
Snag a FREE cup of coffee or cappucino from 6AM-2PM today only. Click here for more information.

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Filed under Living the Dream, Working Girl