Writing regularly as a workout

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do something you love as a job? I have heard that there are people in the world who have pursued their interests and turned them in to a paycheck, but I have never accomplished that myself. I would really enjoy telling stories and getting paid for it, but as my loving friends and family have repeatedly pointed out to me, I will never reach that Nirvana unless I actually WRITE SOMETHING.

I have heard other (successful) writers say that the key to being productive is to ‘prime the pump’ regularly with ANY type of writing. Once you’re writing SOMETHING on a regular basis you’re motivated to write more and more, rather like fitness training. This sounded like a great idea, and I set out to capture my stream of consciousness on myspace in blog form, but I had no deadlines and no one to keep me accountable, so my initiative for the writing exercise petered out very like my initiative peters out for my fitness initiatives. Seems there’s always something more important to do, like making a batch of cookies or menu planning, or clipping the toenails on our four dogs, and I allowed the writing exercise to take a permanent backseat.

Heck, it wasn’t even in the backseat. I threw it in the trunk, and it got buried underneath a small folding table, a couple of dog crates, and a huge clump of plastic grocery bags to be recycled.

Up until last year, though, I had an excuse for not writing regularly: I was employed FULL TIME, and that along with my housekeeping and volunteer endeavors ate up all the time I wasn’t spending eating, bathing and sleeping. Therefore I had little time or energy to hunt down my unicorn of writing as a profession.

Then my husband Rick (also known as my Wonderful Pumpkin of Love, or ‘The Pumpkin’ for short) got a job in Tennessee. I hung around for a year while trying to sell our beautiful Michigan house, and when that was finally done I followed him to Knoxville. Thanks to the lower cost of living here, I was able to pursue my other dream of being unemployed. In the immortal words of Peter Gibbons in the movie “Office Space,” “…I did absolutely nothing. And it was everything I thought it could be.”

But just like anything else in life, moderation is our savior. Too much of anything in life, whether it’s sloth or peanut butter and walnut brownies with vanilla ice cream, is not good. Oh, I had plans for my new life in Knoxville, grand plans, including organizing and decorating our new home and learning to make homemade bread beautifully, along with finally pursuing my dream of writing for an income. At this same time I was also hoping to become a black belt in some obscure martial art as well as (somehow) getting my young adult body back. Yeah. Really.

By now you may have guessed that even with the freedom of unemployment I have not achieved any of these goals, and now our circumstances have changed. The economy has ravaged pretty much every business nationally, and The Pumpkin’s employer is no exception. His employment seems tenuous, and I’m consumed with guilt about not contributing to the household income over the past year and a half. (Mygawd, it really has been THAT LONG.) There’s no way that I could make as much money as he is currently bringing home now, but I could have been earning SOMETHING. Anything would have helped us pay down our debt and put us in a more comfortable place by now.

I really should go out and find a job, probably something part-time so I can still spend part of the day at home with our adored, indulged dogs and do rescue work with my friend Karen while still earning some money. It’s past the time I should have done this, but I was really enjoying the indulgence of being unemployed.

I was whining to my good, darling, dear friend Jessica about my lack of income, and how I dreaded having to actually buckle down and keep my opinionated mouth shut to a BOSS again, and why is it that we can’t do what we want and somehow magically make a living? We were casting about for income-generating ideas for each other and Jes asks me (again) why I don’t write. I’m pretty good at stringing random crap together in cohesive sentences, and have been told I’m mildly entertaining, so it seems writing could be an income-generator for me.

I trotted out the standard excuses for Jes: ‘I haven’t written regularly in so long, I haven’t ever finished a SINGLE piece of fiction even though I have several promising starts, I don’t know how to market myself, blah blah blah…’ And Jes says “Just start with something–ONE thing. And when you finish that, go on to something else.” She’s so practical! And then Jes gifted me with this blog (she set it up for me and hosted my domain, which is something I’d not have known how to do for myself), so I no longer have any excuses for not writing.

Then she put the pressure on me. Via instant message, she said “And I will expect to see something from you EVERY DAY. No excuses.” Voila! Accountability! This is the structure I so sorely needed!

So I’ll be posting something every day. Every single day. Topics will vary from writing to dogs and dog rescue to food to housekeeping, and anything in-between those topics which is particularly annoying or entertaining that day. I can’t promise that it will be entertaining, but it will be SOMETHING.

If you’re reading this and you’re not Jes and you’re not The Pumpkin, then thank you for trudging along this far. I’d be curious to know how you stumbled upon my blog/stream of consciousness, so leave a comment, please. And try to come back tomorrow, to help Jes tighten the thumbscrews of accountability.

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