Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year, New Me!

Each new year, I make a resolution or two--which are always long forgotten by the time February rolls around.  This year, I'm not going to call them resolutions--I'm going to call them goals.  Because this year, I'm not messing around.  It's time to make a change.

My first--and most important--goal for 2013 is to take back my health.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I was diagnosed about five years ago, and it's been a downward spiral for me, health-wise, since then.  Before the RA, I took 2-4 ballet classes a week, and I was in terrific shape.  I was back en pointe, even performing with a local company.  And then....suddenly my joints started to hurt.  I could barely get out of bed.  I sprung a low-grade fever every afternoon.  It took my doctors more than a year to diagnose me (I have no idea why they didn't check for RA on the first go-round).  By the time I started working toward getting the disease under control, I had gained 20-30 lbs.  I was totally and completely out of shape, and the very idea of putting on a leotard and standing in front of a wall of mirrors was abhorrent to me.  I half-heartedly tried to get into other forms of exercise, and I did pretty okay during the summer months, but as soon as cold temperatures set in, I was back to being a total slug.

These days, I barely recognize myself.  I used to be trim, fit, and energetic.  Now, I could easily sleep 20 hrs. a day if you let me, and something like a shopping expedition at the mall totally wears me out.  I realized a few months ago that if I didn't start doing something now, my overall health was going to become irrecoverable.  I tested out a '30 days for $30' gym membership in December.  I cut out soda completely, and started drinking water all day.  I started to watch what I eat.  And you know what?  I started feeling better.  A lot better.

So, for 2013, I have now committed to a gym membership.  Working out has become part of my regular routine, and I'm finding that I actually enjoy that "me" time.  I'm not really losing weight yet (probably because I'm adding muscle), but I have gone down a full jeans size (almost 2 sizes!) and I feel SO much better.  Even my chronic migraines are better.  This is going to be the "new me."  I am 100% committed to it.

As a side note, I know a ridiculously high number of authors who suffer from some sort of autoimmune disease (Rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis, Lupus, and even the fairly rare autoimmune hepatitis).  It's sort of a "chicken or the egg" thing--are writers simply more susceptible to these diseases because of our lifestyle--hour upon hour of sitting in front of a computer screen, plus the stress that comes with the biz--or is there some connection between the highly creative type and autoimmune diseases in general? It's an interesting question, and one I wish someone would look into.

My second goal for 2013 is to make my writing routine more....well, routine.  I work on projects in spurts.  Sometimes I go weeks--even months--without working on a manuscript.  Most of my books are written in a sprint during the last weeks before a deadline, in a haze of working 12-18 hour days/staying up all night.  It's crazy, and it adversely affects my health (see above!).   There's simply no reason for it. Writing is my full-time job, and my kids are middle schoolers, so I have the house to myself pretty much from 8:30 a.m. till 3:30, sometimes 5:45, every single day.  What do I do during those hours?  I have no idea.  I am sitting in front of the computer most of that time.  And some of what I do is legitimate, career-related work (social media, blogging, etc.).  But the rest of the time?  Wasted.

So, my goal for 2013 is to get into the habit of writing during the day--every day (at least, every weekday).  No more excuses of "but my muse seems to work better at night!"  Okay, maybe she does, but she's going to have to readjust to my schedule.  I'm going to strive to write for at least four hours every single weekday.  Night and weekend hours will be bonus hours.  No more weeks off; no more waiting for the pressure of a looming deadline to get busy on a book.   No more all-nighters; no more crazy stress as I struggle to meet a deadline.  Because the stress just makes my RA flare up--my migraines too.  See, my two goals are interrelated.

My first realistic fic YA (tentatively titled MAGNOLIA, coming summer 2014 from Simon Pulse) is due May 1st, and I will have that book done in plenty of time, without a last-minute sprint to the deadline.  I will have plenty of time to work on other projects, too.  I will be in tip-top physical shape and back to my old, energetic self in time to promote the final book in my Winterhaven series (ETERNAL, coming Sept. 2013 from Simon Pulse).  Definitely.

So, here's to 2013--and a healthier, more fit, less-stressed, more productive me!

What about you?  Any goals for 2013?!  C'mon, don't be shy...I fully believe that "publicly" declaring your goals is the first step toward achieving them!


Pintip said...

Kristi! Those are wonderful goals, and you are totally inspiring me to get into a regular exercise routine again. I think you nailed it when you talk about having a routine -- because then it becomes easier to do the things we want to do. The first few days are hard but then it becomes easier and easier all the time. Thanks for sharing your goals with us, and I wish you the very best luck in achieving them.

Melissa Landers said...

I didn't know you're a dancer, Kristi! I think that's amazing, even if RA has forced you to take an extended break.

Great goals. You can do it!

Kristi Cook said...

Thanks for the support, guys!

Lauren Layne said...

Good for you, Kristi!

And I'm a firm believer that the muse can be tamed to write when we need to. It'll feel forced at first, but stick with it. I'm a morning-writer myself, but my old day job didn't allow for it, so I verrrrry slowly taught myself how to write at night. One thing that really helped was to picture how good it always felt to write "the end" on a manuscript. Keeping that "carrot" in mind was often the impetus I'd need to crank out the words even when I wanted to be doing ANYTHING else.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

Kristi, I think it's fabulous that you're putting your health first this year! Good for you! And having a writing routine... yeah, that's something I need to get back to myself ; )
Meanwhile, my resolution for this year is the same as it's been for the past few: don't give up. I am amazed at how much difference that simple resolution has made in my mindset.
And hey, before I forget - congrats on your first blog post for Honestly YA!!!! *cheering* *throwing streamers*

Lorie Langdon said...

Thank you for sharing this, Kristi! I also have an autoimmune disorder so I know how hard it can be to admit to a "weakness".
Your theory about there being a correlation between autoimmune diseases and writers is very interesting. You're right though, I know many other writers with similar issues.
I guess I was a chicken before the egg kind of girl, because I started writing my first novel when I was on a medical leave of absence from my job. I desperately needed an escape and writing fit the bill. :)
I feel incredibly blessed that writing is now my job! :D

Jennifer McGowan said...

Kristi, what an awesome post. I also am committed to a healthier new year, since i have visibly EXPANDED since becoming a more focused writer. But 2013 is the year I find ... if not balance, then equal levels of extremism. :) I have a friend with RA and I am awed by your dedication in moving past the pain to find your center of wellness again. GO YOU!! ~~throws more streamers~~

Kimberly said...

I think you're right that you can that muse up and running during the hours you need her. She can definitely adjust to your new schedule. :-)
I'm glad to hear you're putting your health first in 2013. Whether we're writing or not, our health should always come first. I hear you get more energy with exercise. At least that's what my husband tells me....
I committed myself to the Ruby Winter Writing Festival, and for every writing goal, I also made myself put down an exercise one. Write 1,000 new words, followed by 50 sit-ups. That type of thing. We'll see if I accrue my 50 points by the end of February...
Congrats on your first blog post with Honestly YA! We're so glad you jumped aboard. :-)

PJ Sharon said...

I blogged about this very thing on the Secrets of 7 scribes blog today. You can find my TOP 10 healthy tips over there, but really, good health isn't rocket science. It just feels like trying to get to the moon some days:-)