Boise Idaho

Jumping into an Open Mind

Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in the O...

Reynolds Creek southwest of Boise, Idaho.  (Wikipedia)

My reward for finishing the first draft of my novel is a trip to Idaho; however, I wasn’t that excited about going to Idaho. Correction: I’m really scared to go to Idaho. In my story, the main character visits a fictitious big cat (cougars, lynx and bobcats) sanctuary in northern Idaho in late January by herself. My idea was to recreate the trip. It was very easy to come up with excuses not to go:

  • I don’t know anyone in Idaho
  • Plane tickets are expensive
  • It’s still the first year of marriage, I can’t go on a trip by myself!
  • There’s no guarantee my book will get published so this is a lot of time and money to spend on a potential hobby

Last week I decided, what the heck, I’m going to buy those tickets. Here’s how I responded to those excuses:

  • People are friendly; I’ll just stop in different dinners along the way and introduce myself as a curious writer.
  • Yes, plane tickets are expensive (about $600 to Boise), but a ticket to Spokane, Washington, which is closer to my ideal location anyway, is only $250.
  • Ok, the marriage excuse is just ridiculous. I’m scraping the barrel of excuses here.
  • My writing will certainly remain a hobby if I don’t take it seriously. My book takes place in Idaho so how can I possibly not go to Idaho?!?

A funny thing happened as soon as I stopped making excuses, and bought the ticket: opportunities began to appear. My brother’s sister’s college friend said she’d host me in Missoula, Montana (only a 4 hour drive from Spokane). She also said I could visit her parents in Idaho. I found another person who works with wolves who said she’d meet with me.

By opening up my search to Washington and Montana I made this trip possible. My advice to anyone who’s making excuses: keep an open mind and leap whenever possible.

Between Goals

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My desk

When you have a lofty goal it’s crucial to set goals along the way, and then reward yourself for reaching those goals. It could take years to reach my goal of publishing my novel, In the Pride, so why should I wait that long to celebrate my hard work?

Recently I started posting my short-term goals next to my desk, and it’s a great reminder of the steps I need to take to get where I want to go. It’s also fun to keep track of the goals I have completed. Under each goal I write a reward. I’m currently on my third draft, so when I reach 100 pages (which I did this weekend!) I go out for a fancy dinner, for 200 pages I go to a writer’s conference, and for finishing this draft I will visit Idaho where a good chunk of my story takes place.

Another practice that has helped me stay motivated is logging the hours I spend writing. Sometimes it can feel like I’m working so hard with nothing to show for it, but watching the numbers accumulate is a great reminder of my commitment.

hoursspreadHope these tips can help with your goals!