Thursday, September 06, 2007


Posted by Lynne

I played softball for one season when I was a girl. I liked it, but didn't love it. Then came tennis. Loved it, but I wasn't any good. Then swimming. I loved it and I was very good at it, but there wasn't a place I could do it off season.

Finding my exercise has proven challenging for me. In recent years, I've settled on walking, yet I admit to doing it in fits and starts. When I'm in the groove, I walk six days per week, adding in hills as the week progresses. I throw in two to three days of strength training, and boy do I feel strong. My clothes fit well, I sleep soundly and make better quality food choices, too.

Looking back to when I began to write regularly, I was fully aware that I couldn't write a novel or a parenting book unless I started out small. A writing exercise here or a parenting article there, over morning coffee or while waiting for a client I began to believe I could put my thoughts and opinions on paper and someone would care. With each writing prompt, my imagination was stirred, characters starting appearing out of nowhere and a thesis for Negotiation Generation came to me.

I began scheduling in my writing time. Thursday and Friday work days for NG. Five mornings per week for one hour, my novel. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Needed to write.

Soon I was ready for hurdles. The first one looked insurmountable. Getting an agent. With lots of research, a knockout query letter and proposal, I cleared that hurdle only to face-- what at the time seemed like a taller more ominous one--getting a publisher.

With mixed emotions--anxiety and hope--I persevered. I couldn't stop, I was training.

And now my parenting book is published; I'm working on another and my novel is complete (for the moment). I know I'll need even more fortitude to stay in the race, because even though one book sits patiently on bookstore tables and shelves waiting for readers, this marathon, so aptly the name of Boston's Grub Street annual conference, is equal parts muse and marketplace.

In my expanded world view, looking back on the goal to be published, I see that I'm no where near the finish line. I simply turned a corner to find that my strength, determination and need to fine tune my craft are still required. Only the scenery has changed.

I'm training. And I plan to go the distance.


Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for the interesting story.

In my paying job, I write articles on health for patient magazines. One question editors and writers have is whether changing to healthier lifestyle habits is easier done a little at a time (wiggle that loose tooth a little every day method) or all at once (yank out that tooth as soon as it's loose method). It's hard to know what to recommend people do when the evidence is unclear.

Personally, I've always found it easier to make changes all at once, so it was interesting to hear your story of gradual training and building up. Perhaps there is no right answer to how to develop new and better habits.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hello Shauna,

As a temperament expert, I'd say when it comes to exercise the answer lies in what works best given your unique personality. But if we are talking about the writing life specifically--it's gradual all the way. One hurdle leads to another and so it goes.


Larramie said...

It's obvious, Lynne, that you've found your mental exercise and will always stretch your imagination to go that extra mile.

Congratulations, again!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thanks Larramie, now if only I could keep my commitment to keep walking!! Lynne

Lisa said...

What a great post! I have found in my journey so far that incremental goals are what works for me. First, it was just making a commitment to write. Then, it was reading books to learn more and then finding classes and people in order to expand on what I was learning and get some feedback -- this was also a confidence building exercise. If I thought of the end goal now (which is of course, being a published author), I would keel over at the thought of everything currently standing between me and the goal. Your analogy to training reminded me of something I read in one of my (MANY) books on writing. To drive across country in the dark, we can't possibly envision the endpoint, so we slowly work our way there with just the vision of what we see on our headlights ahead of us. Not sure if there is a direct correlation, but that idea popped into my head. I figure if I started out driving from Newburyport, MA on the ocean and I'm headed to the Pacific, I'm somewhere on that interminable New York State Thruway right now -- maybe Albany :)