Sunday, January 2, 2011

Of Writing and Ridng--Regaining My Passion

With the coming of the New Year, I’m attempting to recommit to my riding and my writing. Over the past couple years, I’ve struggled with finding time for my riding and my writing.

Even though I completed and submitted two books before the end of 2010, it took almost two years to finish the one book and the other was only 25,000 words. There was a time when I could write a 100,000 words in a month. I’d write like I was on fire, so full of ideas they just raced onto the page. I haven’t been able to re-capture the passion of writing in the past couple years.

It seems I come home from my day job and am too exhausted to do something which requires mental energy. In fact, once I finish dinner and deal with other demands on my time, I find myself sitting on the couch reading or watching TV. Even when I try to write, most of what I write is forced. This is not like me.

In order to regain my passion for writing, I actually chose a topic which doesn’t sell well but is a definite interest of mine: football. My next romance novel features a football hero. While I did fall in love with the hero and heroine, the writing still didn’t come easily. Currently, I’m writing the sequel and struggling to find the words to put on paper. I even added a cat character and a few horses, hoping they’d give me incentive. So far, it’s not working.

When I write, I like to crawl into the characters’ heads and lose myself. I become the characters and get lost in the zone. I’ll be constantly imagining scenes in my head while commuting to work or merely sitting around watching TV. So far, that’s not happening. Not like I want it to happen.

Which brings me to riding as I believe the two are related. My passion for riding has waned along with my passion for writing. I’ve barely ridden in the past two years. I might ride a few times a week when Gailey is sound. I can count on one hand the times I’ve managed to ride 4 days a week in the past couple years. As a result, I have put in about 10 pounds per year. Riding has always been my preferred workout method. Without it, I’ve packed on the pounds. I’m appalled when I see pictures of myself.

I’m constantly feeling guilty because I’ll stop by the barn but not ride. It’s quite easy anymore for me to talk myself out of riding:

It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I’m too tired. There’re too many people in the arena. There’s no one in the arena.

Last month Gailey came up lame in her front leg this time. I’m to start bringing her back slowly. Slow is not a problem. Bringing her back is a problem. So far, I haven’t put a saddle on her or taken her out of her stall.

Somehow, I need to find the ambition and energy to regain my passion for riding and writing. I’m always better under pressure. I’m hoping I can find a way to put pressure on myself to increase my consistency.

For one, my new publisher won’t put my series name on my first book unless they have the 2nd book in the series in hand. This makes perfect sense as many publishers get burned by authors submitting book 1 of a series and no subsequent books. The publication date for Fourth and Goal is May. I would most likely need to have book 2 submitted by April 1 or sooner. Now that’s pressure. Whether it’s enough. I haven’t a clue.

On to the riding part of the equation. I’m not showing anymore, which was the incentive I used to ride in the past. I need to lose weight, yet so far that incentive hasn’t worked for me. In fact, I cringe every time I ride by the arena mirrors and glance at my fat body bouncing around on the back of my mare. I used to be one of the thinnest people at the barn, now I’m the opposite.

I’m at a loss as to how to motivate myself for riding. Possible weight loss isn’t doing it. Showing is pretty much out of the question based on Gailey’s soundness issues, but also not an option financially.

I want my passion back. I want to look forward to going to the barn every day. I want to think about how much fun it will be to get on the back of my horse and learn something new. I want to feel those feelings again. I haven’t been making riding a priority, as it once was in my life. Everything else takes priority, even watching TV.

I don’t know how to get my passion back? Can you force passion? Can a person force themselves into a writing and riding routine, create a habit of doing both, and in the process re-create the passion? Or will it make me resent the time away from other things? Quitting is not an option; and believe me, I’ve considered it. Books and horses have been a part of my life since I was old enough to walk. I cannot picture a life without them, yet I seem to be at a loss as to how to fit them into my current life. I’m too busy, and most likely too stressed with day-to-day obligations and chores. By the time I get off work at night, I just want to crash.

Maybe I need to look into supplements or vitamins and approach my lack of ambition from a physical point of view.

I know we all struggle with priorities and finding time in our busy lives. What’s worked for some of you? How do you juggle your day job, your family obligations, and still leave room for your passions, your hobbies, yourself? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Susan said...

You're telling my story, at least to a point. I used to read all the time and I lived for riding. Now I also find excuses not to do either.

I am also in the needing to lose some weight category. Ugh. Why is it always so much easier and more fun to gain? The past couple pictures I've seen of myself on a horse have been eye opening. Rotund comes to mind.

As for writing, I'm new to it and am still surprised I actually wrote a whole book. I have a sequel in my head, and it's coming along, but I still don't think I've quite found the voice for it.

I've done a lot of soul searching about what I want in my life. My conclusion is that I am not ready to become comfortable in the rocking chair yet. There are still physical things I want to accomplish.

My goal is to first of all not beat myself up. That never helps does it? For the most part I am happy with myself and my life and I want to build on that. I believe it's much better to focus on the positive and allow an attitude adjustment to happen that way.

My next goal is about my physical body, cutting out junk food and I started exercising.

I don't know if this helps. There seem to be a lot of people facing the same dilemma.

Good luck. Let me know if you ever need a pep talk and I'll do the same.

horsegenes said...

Working the day job does get in the way of the things we have a passion for. Then it seems that our passions become obligations. It feels like my passions are just another thing on the list of things that I have to do and become more of a burden than a passion. It is a vicious cycle. When I am riding I am energized and I want more. When I am sitting home watching TV I don't want to move and go riding and then guilt and depression sets in. Then I snack. Snacking is bad. I do (in my mind) want to ride and spend time with my horses. What I have found that works for me is to make a schedule and stick to it. I don't let the little upsets get in my way and become excuses. The little upsets for me can be anything from doing something for my family, working late, or even just not feeling really good. There are days that I REALLY don't want to follow my schedule but when I push through I feel so much better about myself. If I do more than what I have "scheduled" then I feel really positive about myself. I think that the key for me is to only "schedule" what is doable and not try to force so much that is becomes overwhelming. If I miss a day - I let it go and start again the next day.

I understand that your horse has had a lot of lameness issues this year and that has most certainly damped your spirits. It has be to hard to go to the barn not knowing whether or not your horse is going to be sound enough to ride. I hope the new year comes without the lameness and just over all better health for Gailey. You are probably right that your writing is linked to your riding. I always feel like my mind is clearer and open to fresh thoughts after a good ride.

Alison said...

Hi Jami--your blog inspired an entire blog. Thanks for opening up the conversation and I hope we keep the dialogue going on this subject.

kippen64 said...

For the writing I suggest forcing yourself to write a certain amount per session no matter how awful it is. You can edit it later. The more you do this, it easier it becomes.

For the riding I suggest asking yourself is there anything that you want to do but have never given yourself the permission for on account of being a responsible adult. It's possible that you're just bored with what you have been doing and it's hard to be motivated if you're bored. You can step out of your routine and slightly out of your comfort zone without quitting your role as a responsible adult.

For the weight loss, remember that you cannot just quit a habit. It only works if you replace one habit with another habit. True weight loss isn't just a diet, it's a change of habits.

We all play tapes in our heads and they are on automatic. We'll be in a situation and the tape player in our head will play the same old messages. Such as "You can't do this because of this and this and you'll be silly if you try". We can change the messages in our heads to things more helpful to us. After all they are happening in our heads and not someone else's. I realise that Dr Phil has lost favour in the USA but that doesn't stop his books being good. The man doesn't have a Phd for nothing. 'Self Matters' is a good book even if you just skim through it and pick out the bits that you like for insights.

As someone who is utterly exhausted, I sympathise. Six years of being the target of a vicious hate campaign has left me reeling, and sometimes I would like to just lie down on the ground and have someone come along and tell me when it's all over. But I am not going to do that because life goes on and success is the best revenge of all.

Happy New Year!!!!!

Jami Davenport said...

Alison, I'm glad I inspired you. Let's hope we can both get ourselves going this year.

I'm going to work on a schedule and see how well I can adhere to it. Also, my hubbie and I agreed to a moratorium on junk food in our house for three months. My weakness is BBQ Potato Chips. I will eat an entire bag in one sitting.

It's really good to know I'm not alone.

Kippen, Email me at