I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking about my Bob lately. He passed away 2 years, 8 months ago. It doesn’t feel like he’s been gone that long. It’s tempting at this point to write about how great Bob was. He was a great cat. But what prompted this post today is more my thinking about why and how I think about him.
Most of the time I don’t know what bring him to mind. Other times, something happened that reminds me of something he did, or a time we had together and it’s more clear. While the memories also remind me how much I miss him, time has done its work to some degree in that I am mostly happy to think about and remember him.
Then sometimes, my mind will continue on, remembering other cats I’ve shared my life with:
Shindy – the first cat I got after moving out on my own
Magic – the only cat I’ve had that I knew his actual birthday because he was born under my best friend’s bed when they took in a pregnant stray
Sheba – the trouble-making tiny Bengal with the huge voice
and my childhood cats Patches – the barn cat who knew she was really a princess and Charley – the silly calico who acted like a puppy.
I know what these cats have meant to me. Working as an RVT for over twenty years now, I’ve seen the bonds people share with their pets. They add so much to our lives. I actually get sad for the ‘it’s just a dog/cat/pet’ people. They’re missing out on so much by limiting who their hearts can hold dear. I’ve been present while so many people said goodbye to their fluffy family members. Or while they stood by their side to fight through an uncertain recovery. These are not frivolous emotions or values. They are important.
This is my 18th day of writing every day. I’d gone many months of not writing much of anything. I knew my excuses to myself about why I wasn’t writing were mostly crap, but I just couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and do it.
I used to really dislike exercise. Maybe a short nature walk. Maybe an easy bike ride, as long as it wasn’t too often. Since my recovery from the string of surgeries a few years ago, I’ve gotten a nice exercise routine down. With the pandemic still raging, I’m not at the gym with weights anymore, but I’m still exercising at home with a pretty good routine. Now, I feel off if I don’t get some form of exercise in every day. Sometimes it’s just a short go on the stationary bike if I’m really tired, but I do something each day.
I figured if I could do that – if I could become someone who exercised habitually, I should be able to write regularly too. A writing routine should be easier even. I LIKE to write after all. Don’t I?
So I did a lot of thinking about how I got to where I am with my exercise and decided to use those ideas to get a writing routine down. What is working for me so far:
My exercise bike keeps track of my daily streak, and makes a fuss about milestones. So I’m trying to keep a writing streak going. Even if I can only manage a sentence, it will count.
I plan the day before when I will write and what project I’m going to work on: my fiction, my staff newsletter for the day job, a writing exercise, or something else.
I’m generous about what counts as writing. As above, if I’m exhausted and can only manage a few minutes, that’s okay. Over time I will try to extend this. I love reading books and listening to podcasts about writing, but those don’t count on their own. If I do a writing exercise with it, THAT can count. Editing might be time reading my own story and making some notes. That counts.
The biggie I think is deciding inside myself that this would matter. The streak would matter. The often tiny little pockets of time would matter. It was all important. I’ve found myself bopping around doing whatever in an evening and thought, “Ah! Look at the time, I better do my writing before it gets any later!” Then I do. I used to look and think, “It’s already so late, I’ll try to write tomorrow.” The mental shift is huge for me.
I’m only 18 days in. Nowhere near what the habit experts say you need to make something a habit, but it’s so, so much more that I had been doing that I’m proud, and excited that I believe this will stick. Some day eventually though, I’ll break my streak. I’ve done that with my exercise. Not only was I tired, but I had a pounding headache, or hurt my back or something and pushing though would have been worse than taking a break to rest. Resting is okay. Resting is good sometimes. But I hope with writing, as with exercise for me, it will be the exception, not the normal state of things.
If you have a writing routine that works for you, or for any good habit you’ve created for yourself, please share in the comments!