Setting and Keeping Goals, A New Thing for Me

Thank you all so much for your kindness about my uncle’s passing. It felt too daunting to respond to all your condolences, but know that I appreciate each one. I closed the comments over there.

Tiger is feeling better. All of a sudden she started eating much better, and I have not had to take her for sub q fluids lately. I hope she stays well now. Everyone seems to be feeling ok currently (knock on wood). A friend brought them all fresh catnip yesterday, so that was well appreciated by the furkids.

Remember how I posted two weeks ago that wah wah wah I might not make my publication goal for 2019, which by the way is the first time I’ve ever set such a goal for myself. I don’t typically set goals for myself. Even if I am nudged, like on Goodreads, to do so, I usually forget about them. But this one I kept in mind throughout the year. When I last reported in, I was one publication short of my goal. Miraculously, I have had three more acceptances, and I believe these poems and an essay should all be published before the end of the year which will put me two over my goal!

Full disclosure: I also  had two rejections in the same period of time!

My big news is that I have begun The Artist’s Way (TAW) program, reading through the book of the same name by Julia Cameron and doing the required and encouraged activities. The two main ones are morning pages and artist dates. Morning pages are three full pages of journaling, preferably written by hand first thing each morning. Artist dates must be done solo, and they require doing something that provides a fresh viewpoint or a burst of inspiration. Then each chapter has other assignments.

While the chapters are meant to be fulfilled in one week, I have discovered that many people take from two to four weeks to work on a chapter. I think I prefer this. I began with the one week plan, but three weeks into this project I felt that I was just scratching the surface of what I could accomplish. I joined a local support group that was just starting out, and we will meet each month to discuss our work with one chapter. So I plan to slow down and dig in deeper.

What is The Artist’s Way? The subtitle sums it up neatly: “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” It’s a way of eliminating what gets in our way to maximizing our creativity. Writer’s block? Writers who have done the program swear it can remove the block. This book has been around for twenty-five years, so there are a lot of people working the program.

One of my favorite writing theory books is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Not only did she write the foreword for my edition, but she and Cameron are friends.

I have already made progress, although the morning pages have been very difficult for me. I wake up to a lot of important emails (perhaps, in part, because I am three hours behind the east coast). In addition, my six cats won’t leave me alone until they are fed and the overnight poos scooped. And at least twice a week something “happens” in the early morning that has to be addressed: exploded water heater that has flooded a room, the early morning call I got that my uncle had passed away, a spilled cat water bowl on my alder floor. Then I want my caffeine, too. I have worked out a compromise. I will complete my morning pages before I go to bed that night. That means I will try to finish them in the AM, but if not, I will do them at some point in the PM.

Now that I have that worked out, it’s more a matter of what to write. I never have an actual writer’s block for poetry, nonfiction, or blogging, but for the morning pages I tend to write like this: “Halfway through now. What should I write about? Um, how about writing about the color red? Color should be the sixth sense. It deserves it’s own place, not just part of vision. OK, what now? I don’t want to write about red. It feels boring.”

This is an idea of what I write about. We are not “allowed” to show our morning pages to anyone.

For my artist date this week I went to the craft store and looked through every single aisle, at all the various types of craft materials sold. My favorite part of a craft store is the items that are displayed by color. I love color coordination.

I plan to keep on with the program, so that might actually be my second set of goals that I am making and will keep. Another good reason to stretch out the chapters, though, is that I don’t have to give up on what is most important. Mom is coming to visit for two weeks for Thanksgiving and her birthday. I don’t plan to do much TAW while she’s here, but rather spend as much time as I can with her. She’ll be 85 on December 2. I might not even do my morning pages on many of those days. We’ll see.

Happy Halloween! I love the fall holidays, and for Halloween I love the witches. I tell my kids this is a self-portrait. They think I’m kidding, but I’m really not.

Remember: you are loved! Make it a great week.



Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Cats and Other Animals, Essay, Inspiration, Poetry, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Submissions, Writing, Writing goals, Writing Talk, Writing Tips and Habits

75 responses to “Setting and Keeping Goals, A New Thing for Me

  1. Take it from an old hand, never ever write in haste…

  2. Congrats on all that you have accomplished. It is satisfying on several levels, isn’t it?

  3. Hi, Luanne. You are loved, too!
    Good luck with your goals. Your current book of assignments sounds way too daunting to me, but then, I’ve had plenty of deadlines and stress lately. I guess meeting deadlines is my goal. 🙂 Congratulations on all your acceptances, and thanks for sharing that you’ve also had rejections, too. I’m glad everyone–cats and people–are healthy right now. <3

    • Well, my only writing deadlines are usually self-imposed, so that helps. I don’t mind self-imposed ones, but hate the other kind, especially if they involves forms and stuff like that. Thank you so much!!!!!!

  4. I love all of Julia’s books. A couple of years ago, I accepted the fact that my “morning pages” can’t come in the morning given my day job hours. Instead, I write as I can throughout the day. Enjoy your time with your mother, Luanne!

  5. Val

    I tried writing morning pages for about 4 – 6 months many years ago, and what I’d do is take the journal into the loo (bathroom) with me, and write there, as it was the only place I could be sure I wouldn’t be disturbed (and because that visit was the most important, first, thing I had to do at the time each morning!) I gave up because I found all I was writing was about my health and, as I write about that normally in my day to day diary, it seemed pretty pointless. Somehow it didn’t find me the creativity I’d been looking for. But I’ve known people who’ve found the technique helpful, and I hope you find that, too.

    I love Writing Down the Bones – it’s one of my most treasured books. 🙂

    Glad Tiger’s better… maybe it’s the catnip?


    • Wow, I’m so impressed, Val! You wrote a diary AND morning pages!!! I can’t even imagine. I am not a diary or journal writer, although I found some of my old journals from my late 20s. HAHAHAHA. I better burn them while I still can. I actually considered writing my pages in the bathroom, but I want to create a sustainable habit, and that wouldn’t be it. And the minute one cute little paw reaches under the door I would be done anyway.
      Haha, no the catnip was just yesterday. She’s been better for a week now. So I don’t know. I am grateful for the gift, so I’ll try not to look it in the mouth, you know?
      It’s one of my favorites, too!!!!!

  6. You are very goal oriented! Wow! Glad Tiger is feeling better.

  7. I like the way you’re planning out the activities for TAW. I’ll admit I waste a lot of writing time by distracting myself with social media. I’ll have to break out the book. With NaNoWriMo on the horizon and my anxiety levels continuing to crest at the day job, I’m not sure what more I can do. But I’m definitely not doing what I want to do right now. I’m knocking on every bit of wood we have in hopes that your kitties give you a long reprieve. Max, our oldest at 16, periodically throws up and we worry about her tummy. Frequent conversations about whether this wet food or that dry food might be upsetting her. I mix in some wet food prescribed for kidney disease since she’s in the early stages, but what good is it if she throws it up! Ugh. She still has her spunk though 🙂 You have a great week! And congratulations on your publications!!

    • Yeah, I fill in the gaps in time (waiting for stuff like on the phone) going through social media. But I’m not so sure it’s good for the mind. I want to keep up with what’s going on in friend’s lives though . . . . Oh, dear Maxine. It’s so hard to figure it out sometimes! I found a food Tiger likes (for now). It’s a can of lamb and chicken from New Zealand that I get from Chewy. She scarfs it down, so maybe it’s just that she likes htis food. She’s down to 6.4 pounds, which concerns me. Thanks, Marie. I’m so glad Max has her spunk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I’m glad you have something to keep you focused which is the toughest part of writing. I am very glad Tiger is feeling better. Have a great week.

  9. Morning pages have been harder to get done since it’s still dark and I’m not up and at it as early. I have no job and no one to attend to so morning pages are easier. I bought fancy (cheap) Ooly fountain pens for my different writing times. Morning pages get the purple ink, night time journal gets blue and regular correspondence gets black. That way I only replace the cartridge and not the whole pen. This morning my morning pages are one page. ;( I start the page with the weather details and my sleep that is tracked by Fitbit. Then I write my plans for the day and who or what might get in their way. I discover procrastination patterns there and ways my mind plays with how I get lost in my goals. At night the journal sums up what I actually accomplished and what’s weighing on my mind before sleep. Once it’s on paper, I can let it go. I did a 12-week course with other women many years ago. I have all of Cameron’s and Goldberg’s books too. We have to let go of perfection and do what we can. Do them when you can and the rest of the time, remember to breathe. Mom is always more important than pages. Hang in there.

    • Oh, Marlene, you are so organized! I love this particularly: “and who or what might get in their way.” Hah! That’s a good one. Maybe your list like the one I am imagining for me is really long ;). Also when you say, “Once it’s on paper, I can let it go.” I think this is a new insight for me–that the reason I am also writing my memories in one form or another is that I want to unburden myself of them. I have so very many and they get pretty heavy. Yes, Mom is more important than pages! Thank you for understanding!

      • Yes, Luanne, the list is always long and if I get some of it done, it’s been a successful day. Especially if I get a chance to make someone feel better. My sister is needing lots of spontaneous time these days so plans go off the rails. People always come first before most things. Luckily I don’t have a job so things can wait.

  10. Luanne, I’ve looked at ‘The Artist’s Way?; but felt a bit daunted with the idea of morning pages … but your commitment and perhaps being a bit flexible has me thinking to look at this once again. Good luck and have a wonderful birthday celebration with your mother and fun Halloween!

    • Annika, at first I found people online being very rigid about Cameron’s words. it began to turn me off because I can’t operate that way. It takes a light touch to inspire me, to get me going, but that rigidity makes me want to run in the opposite direction. I am enjoying taking The Artist’s Way and shaping it to my needs and it’s opening up my mind in ways that are very productive!

  11. Congratulations – 3 out of 5 seems good to me.

  12. I’ve worked through Cameron a couple of times. Why is it that it’s so hard to do the artist date???

    • Now this comment of yours is dazing me. I’m on my tush in the dirt, my head whirling. I love the artist dates!!! They are the best part. Of course, it helps to have a good list of ideas. They don’t all have to be going somewhere for several hours on your own–because that is much more difficult and can’t happen every week. So here is one: read a children’s book. I am reading the first in the sequel of Peggy Lane theatre books. So much fun! Kind of like Nancy Drew, but Peggy is more actress and investigative reporter than detective. Here’s another one: organize your closet :). For me the hard part about the go somewhere ones is that I don’t have the time to spare those several hours. If I am doing something like that it’s a date with the gardener or company, something special.

  13. Wow! I am breathless from just *reading* about your busy life! It’s amazing how much you manage to pack in! Luckily you seem to be quite organized so that’s a plus for you! But please try to tell your furkids to at least wait for box-tidying until you’ve had your *first* cuppa coffee! 😀

    • It helps to be organized because then I am less apt to waste time. AS soon as I accomplish something I go to the next thing on the list. It helps that my lists are filled with fun things like the book I just wrote about above to Joy–reading a children’s book as an Artist’s Date.

  14. Congratulations, Luanne. Wonderful to hear about your work being accepted for publication. Way to go!!!

  15. Best of luck with The Artist’s Way! I had an old boss that did it and he found it really life-changing.

  16. Boo back at you, and thank goodness you didn’t say you were completing all of your morning pages in the a.m. – that would be my ultimate guilt trip with you! I know you will be successful in this journey Just please don’t finish early.
    Congrats on the new publications, my friend!
    You’re the best!

  17. Wow, Luanne! You sure packed a lot in that post. You’ve been busy. I love how committed you are to your goals. I especially love how that’s paying out for you. Congrats on your publishing successes. I’ve worked through TAW about 3 times—first in about 1996. I believe in it its power to boost creativity and reaching goals. Maybe I need to revisit it. Bravo for you in making it work for you. Good news with Tiger. ❤️🙏🏽❤️ Enjoy your visit with your mom. I’m always a bit jealous when my friends get to spend time with their parents (one or both). I really miss mine. I can’t wait to hear more about future Artist Dates. Keep inspiring me!!

    • I’m so sorry about your losses, Cheryl. I know you have had so many. xo
      And thank you for your support!!! How cool that you have done TAW three times! Let me ask: did you continue the morning pages when you were done each time or did you only do them while you were actively working the program? Just wondering how others do with that. Other than a brief period when I was in my 20s I have not been a journal-keeping sort of person. I would love to continue the Artist’s Dates forever, though!

      • Funny you asked. I just started back doing “official morning pages” about three weeks ago. I say official because I have always been a morning journaler and thinker of thoughts, so I write every single morning and have all of my adult life. But I might write one or ten pages. Or more! But I consider MP free writing, or stream of consciousness writing. No thinking, just writing what comes up in the moment—no stopping to think—for 3 long-hand pages. That’s a little different from sipping coffee and writing about specific topics.
        Does that make sense? Did I answer the question? 😂 The Artist Dates are fabulous! I always have to make myself do them, though. As you know, I have cats and I’m so connected to them I hate to leave them at all. 😬

        • Cheryl, there is a list online of ideas for Artist Dates and there are many that are at home. This appeals to me although I also like the ones where I get out because I need to push myself to do that. And, YES, that answered my question. I am amazed at y’all that write in the morning. That’s how Adrienne Rich did it with three kids!!!

  18. Congrats on those new acceptances! Who knows what the next two months will bring! The artist’s way sounds pretty flexible, and when it bears fruit — yay! I’m glad to hear Tiger is doing better and that you will have three week with your mom! So many good things going on, Luanne. You are blessed!

  19. First off, congratulations on exceeding your publishing goals ( and those rejections are totally irrelevant – just pieces waiting for the right publication).

    The TAW project sounds beneficial. I am not one who can write in the morning – my brain is so blank unless I just had a vivid dream. It’s coffee, pet chores and reading in the morning! But it sounds like you’ve taken a nice flexible approach to the assignments.

    Glad all are feeling well. Keep it up!

    • Eilene, I love your thinking about rejections ;)!!! My brain is blank and frozen in the morning. I suspect Cameron isn’t like us haha. Same thing with exercise. Some people get up early to workout before work. UM NO. My best time to workout is late afternoon. There must be a connection there somewhere.

  20. Good work being creative with how you go through TAW – I think it’s working already! 😉
    Setting ourselves up to succeed is so much harder than it should be. Give yourself a pat on the back (or an extra Oreo)!

  21. May I mention that I hate deadlines? Deadlines are horror stories for Creatives. And that’s what we are.
    I love Natalie Goldberg’s books about creative writing. Her “WRITING DOWN THE BONES” inspired me to not only write daily, but also to become a Creative Writing teacher.
    That said, my best time for writing is — yup, 5:45 to noon. :–)

    • Deadlines are just awful. Some people seem to like them. Maybe it’s people who wait until the last minute to accomplish something and then pull it off beautifully? I would be way too stressed out, angry, and rebellious!
      I love hearing that about Goldberg’s book! I think it’s so gorgeous and have read it at least twice.

  22. How wonderful to be so productive! I hope to imitate your type of schedule once all the boxes from moving are unpacked and I have more things in place. I have done the Cameron thing a few different times in my life, and I loved it each time. The artist dates are the best part, as you say! Congrats on all the good stuff, and so glad the cats are doing well now. xo

  23. Congratulations on meeting your goal Luanne and good luck with The Artist’s Way!

  24. Congratulations! I’m so glad you’ve accomplished your goal, let alone surpassed them!
    Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones was the first book on writing I ever read and exercised to, but in my head it’s Writing Down to the Bone. No matter how many times I read it the right way, in my head, that’s what it is. I still, at times, go back to that book.
    Also, witches are cool, but that one looks nothing like you 😉

  25. I did the Artist’s Way in a group. I REALLY enjoyed it. I think you’re smart to adapt it to a time schedule that works for you. I have a friend who 20 years later still does her morning pages. 🙂

    • I highly doubt I will be doing them past actively working the program. For one thing, my arthritis is pretty bad in my hands. But I hope to keep Artist Dates!

  26. Good luck, Luanne, with your Artist Way project! Enjoy it fully! 🙂

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