Tag Archives: Jesse McLean

These blank walls

2012-12-29 12.20.00
Today marks Day #4 of #draftweek. Basically, after Jesse McLean Tweeted about his plan to complete some lingering drafts, I decided to join him and complete 5 drafts of my own. I started writing this post in January of 2013. I didn’t get too far, as you’ll see by the italicized start to my thoughts. I also snapped the picture to the left right around that same time to use for this post:

 

See that track? That’s where I spent some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas as I embarked on the challenge to complete the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak for the second year in a row.

 

Truthfully, in the three months leading up to the streak I’ve been pretty inconsistent with any exercise.

I’ve been pretty inconsistent in the months since then, too. Running on that track, which is 5 laps to a mile, gave me plenty of time to think. Looking down, I’d see the track that’s pictured. Looking around, I saw a yellow wall to one side and the dark green tarps surrounding the tennis courts to the other side. I’m a very visual person, and images spilled from my thoughts to that yellow wall as I ran. I’d see successful scenes play out at school, completed projects, and such. Sometimes I’d simply space out and enjoy my music. Regardless, I ran on the track or outside every day for 42 days. I Tweeted or posted to Facebook as I ticked off the days. Sometimes, i was sneaking in right before my gym closed to get in the quick mile minimum, and other times I was I had all the time I needed. Once I publicly shared my goal of finishing the streak, it was going to take a lot to compromise that. I knew the running was good for me, too, both physically and mentally.

That’s also the case with #draftweek. Even though it is only 5 days, once I committed to joining Jesse I made sure these posts got done. I didn’t want to be the one to say, ‘Hey, couldn’t make this happen. I’ll try again tomorrow.’ I’ve wanted to blog more, but I hadn’t been successful in making that time a part of my daily schedule.

LIkewise, I haven’t had pop in a month, either, because I decided to cut that out of my day. It was too easy to grab a Coke when I was out, and I knew it wasn’t good for me. I finished the Warrior Dash, even though I was undertrained, because I’d signed up and didn’t want to back down from what I told my friends I’d do.

So as I approach my next birthday this weekend, my husband asked me about my goals for the upcoming year. He always drafts some goals on his birthday, and he is one of the most self-disciplined people I know; I admire that about him. As I finished this post and thought back to those runs and such I realize that I am very good at keeping promises to others and following through on my public commitments. I’m also great at pushing my promises to myself to the side, like keeping my running active after I built that streak. My goals for this next year will tie to that thinking, as I consider:

  • Reintroducing consistent exercise and maintain the writing time I’ve managed to find this week.  In measurable terms, I’d like to be able to run 5 miles.
  • Writing more, as measured by no longer than a week between blog posts.
  • Completing some organizational work in our master bedroom by ensuring everything has a place.
  • Leaving receipts or sending texts to my husband so he can continue to manage our family finances.
  • Defending my doctoral dissertation proposal and conducting the research associated with my study.

Maybe I make each one an event or a hashtag, as I attain success when I bring others in to the fold. Maybe I just need to be able to reach these goals simply because they ARE my goals. What do you think? How can you relate? How do I paint these blank walls with those images of success? I don’t think this is where I initially intended this post to land, but it has sure given me something to think about now.

Writing time

Last Friday I noticed the following Tweet:

I have 9 “draft” posts that I started and never finished, thinking of picking the 5 best and finishing them Monday-Friday next week.

— Jesse P. McLean (@jmclean77) July 5, 2013

This got me thinking about the unfinished drafts that were sitting in my own folder and the general lack of attention I’ve given my blog. Within the next day or so I responded to another of Jesse’s Tweets, noting that I’d been thinking about joining him in this challenge of sorts. Upon a quick count, I had 5 posts started to varying degrees along with many cases of “I really should write about that” floating around in my head. Jesse asked why those posts most often ended up in the draft folder, and I’d attribute that to two main reasons:

  • I simply wasn’t taking the time I needed to write and reflect.
  • I’d struggled (and still do to an extent) to write a simple point-in-time post, instead striving for an authentic, thoughtful reflection…that was comprehensive, polished and ‘finished’.

Have those same reasons impacted your writing? What are other challenges that impede your writing time? Logically, I know taking this time is important to my own learning and the modeling of learning I hope to do for others. I also know a blog post is only ‘finished’ until you think more, read more, reflect more, share more, and experience more. In other words, it isn’t finished. Learning isn’t finished. When I look back at previous posts, I see many instances where I could expand and add on based on things I simply hadn’t known or done at that point. I have to move past those reasons, and, with that, I joined Jesse in #draftweek where we’re each completing 5 posts that previously sat ‘unfinished’ and unshared. (I’m also throwing in a Goo Goo Dolls/Matchbox 20 concert tomorrow to add to the excitement.) Be sure to check out Jesse’s blog over here for some good reads, too.

Back to my own draft posts, last night I wrote about #iledchat, and tonight I find myself here in “Writing Time.” The excerpt below was all I had written the first weekend in May.

Today I completed my last required doctoral course. Having also passed my comprehensive candidacy exams this spring, ‘only’ my dissertation remains. Just before the semester started, I wrote this about my choices and experiences.

And that’s where I stopped this particular post (Must have been really tired…., right?). My intent was to write further about putting a structure in place to formalize my dissertation process and continue the accountability that came with weekly class sessions. With that, a special shout-out to Brent Anderson who patiently talks me through my study as I work to formalize the initial stages. Brent has a dissertation in progress, too, and  writes on his blog; you should check out his messages to his school community here.

The truth is I have a lot of work to do to be sure I honor writing time, both in my personal/professional reflection and to actualize my doctoral goal. As you make time to write and recognize that learning never stops, make sure you also encourage a colleague or friend so they have the support they need to both move forward and encourage someone else. I know that, after the fact, I never feel like writing time is time wasted.