Finding your pace

I haven’t been to the gym for almost a year now due to a back issue that can be aggravated by comfy chairs, fast movements, and alas,  tumbling on mats.  (Still kind of angry about that, but that’s not the point of this post.)  After about five months or so of not being in the gym, besides putting on a few pounds, I realized I was feeling “old” when I got up from my chair, walked across a parking lot, or took a walk with the dogs–almost as if my body was forgetting how to function on a basic level.  Wobbling about in a parking lot like I was on high-heels scared me, so I got an elliptical a few months ago.  I liked the idea of a no-impact workout, and I figured I could spare ten mintues a day, right?

I’ve been working on it for just over two months, panting, pushing, breathing hard, trying to go as fast as I could in as short of time as I allowed myself.  It was kind of fun.  (Me? Competive?  Naaaah.) and there were some clear improvement in times and distances.  It was a challenge trying to figure out where this new excercise fit into my day: morning, afternoon, or evening.  The gym had always been at night, so shifting to a morning workout was hard, but that’s where it naturally fell.  Slowly my balance improved to where it had been, and I no longer felt like I was walking funny or as if my legs didn’t know what to do.

Yesterday, though,  something deeper clicked as I worked out.  My brain and body finally got what was going on and decided to work together.  I found a slightly slower pace than I’d been pushing myself, a slightly higher resistance, and, like magic, it worked.  The huffing and puffing stopped, the achy muscles shut up, the sweat came on as the body decided to cool itself, and I could just . . . run.  Forever.  Of course I didn’t run forever, but for that time, it felt like I could.   I found my pace or zone, and I am eager to get on my elliptical today and find it again.

This is nothing new.  Athletes have been finding their pace since we were on the savanna running down prey.  The only reason I’m bringing it up now is because there is a pacing to writing, too, and it takes a lot longer than a few months to find it.  If you are having a hard time finding it, you might take a few weeks and study the other patterns in your life and see where twenty minutes a day fits in better.  Some people write better in the morning when the brain is rested, some at night with the entire day of experiences to draw upon.  Recognize what works for you, and put yourself in that place when it’s time to write.  Soon, your brain will recognize what you are trying to do, and the creativity will flow as soon as you sit down and you won’t have to struggle to find it.  Really.  I’m not kidding!  No more staring at blank pages, trying to begin.

Right now I know that a lot of you are participating in NaNoWriMo, which is like a marathon of writing.  Your natural pace is likely a lot slower, but when you find it, you can write forever–page by page, chapter by chapter, all the way to the triumphant end.

I kicked my keyboards butt yesterday, and cranked out 22 pages to make up for Monday’s no-count.  Today I am going to drop back to my more comfortable pace.  I’m exhausted!  (grin)

–Kim

50 Comments

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50 responses to “Finding your pace

  1. Rebecca B

    I’m way late on this post, but I can so relate to the back getting in the way. Almost three Christmases ago, I injured my back cooking the big feast in the kitchen–no joke! Two compressed disks due to normal wear and tear–yikes! I want another 40+ years of use here.
    Thank God for shallow water exercise and stretching which have been a big help over the past year. The balance and strength came back and (knock on wood) no serious re-injuries. Soft chairs and too much time on my feet teaching or cooking or whatever drive me to the Aleve bottle, but the pain is manageable compared to the two rounds of cortisone shots I went through during the first year.
    Stay healthy, Kim! You inspire me.

    • OMGOsh, Rebecca! It sounds like you tore your back up really bad! I’m so glad you’re managing to bring it back slowly. Me too, but it’s a pain having to be so careful all the time. The water excercise sounds fabulous. Unfortunatly for me, I know it won’t work into my schedule unless I’m flat out and can’t move. knock wood

      Kepe up the good work!

  2. Jo

    Hello Kim. Thanks for sharing snippets of your life with your fans. Lately I have been really off pace with a lot of things in my life and your post about pacing has helped me to re-focus. I’m glad that the exercising is going well, that is something I really need to do. The Nanowrimo writing is okay I guess, I have about 21,000 or so words written and if I quit editing as I go I’d probably have more done. I seem to have caught a case of perfectionism with my writing the past couple of weeks. I know that I just need to go with the flow but … oh well I’ll get there – it’s all pacing😉

    P.S. The way you deal with negative posts is great.

    • Hi, Jo. Sounds like you’re moving okay on the NaNo as of last week. 😉 And you’re right–wordcount slows to almost nothing when you take time to edit. I hope you reach your goal!

  3. I was introduced to Kim Harrison’s books this year. Sadly, she is just like every fiction writer I have read in the last ten years, or so, in that her writing has many errors of grammar. Publishers are supposed to have proof readers. And what about all those people that authors thank for having helped? How have they helped? I don’t read an author beyond one book if I find errors. I’ve gone on to Harrison’s third book because the story-lines are so original. Nonetheless, I will not be reading for much longer if I find another error in the book I am reading now. I started it today and found an error on page 8.

    • Hi, Azra.

      Ha! You’d better stop now, then, because there are going to be at least 5-10 errors in every book. I’m glad you enjoyed until you could stand to read no more. Thank you!

      –Kim

  4. Devious Minx

    tumbling on mats? as in gymnastics?
    i myself am an elderly gymnast (as in anyone over the age of 18), so i totally support adult tumbling and i know how frustrating it can be when you just can’t do the things you want to. i constantly battle knee problems, some day i will be an eldery bionic gymnast…
    i started taking adult tumbling classes when i was 28 (it’s been awhile, ahem) because i thought if that fat, old drug addict John Belushi (Blues Brothers) could do flips and stuff, then I should be able to do flips and stuff! maybe when your back is feeling better you could try a trampoline class. it’s less impact than walking. unless you crash…

    • Hi, Devious Minx.

      It was Ha-Kid-Do, which is like Tae-Kwon-Do but with more falls, rolls, and flips. It was very stressful on my wrist joints, too, so it is probably just as well that I quit. I miss it awful. I might go back to Tae-Kwon-Do in a year or so, but even the sharp, fast kicks aggravate me, and if I can’t do something all the way, it get irate at myself. Life lesson not learned yet, I guess. . . 😦

  5. This is great Kim! Such an inspiring post. I know exactly what you mean with pace. I’m no writer, but i love to work out. I started on the elliptical as well, And i didnt even know their was such a thing as finding my pace, untill one days a few months later, i coulden’t get off the darn thing! I was comfortable on it, even though i knew i shoulda been working up a sweat. And since i found that out, ‘vei started running, to see if i can find my pace with that. And ALAS! I did. Now im training for a marathon and i coulden’t be in better shape. Im glad you found yours, It makes working out all the more enjoyable. Great job kicking your keyboards butt as well! Have a great rest of the week Kim!

    • Hi, Jennifer.

      That’s it exactly, Jennifer! That’s what I found the other day. And how wonderful you are running a marathon! Whoo-hoo! You go, girl! 😉

      –Kim

  6. UK Kate

    Hiya Kim. I haven’t been on in a while, but woo-hoo! I won best smile!!! Yay! Well technically, it was me and Ben, but I’m taking the credit😉 Oh yay! I am soooo chuffed! *happy bunny* And wow look at you go with your exercisy thingy… Puts me to shame. I’ve been saying I need to get back in shape for over a year now! After the wedding my healthy regime kind of… umm… fell by the wayside. But you’ve inspired me to get back to it! Oh and while I remember, thank you soooo much for all the plotting and planning techniques you put up on here. I adapted your character grid for my book. (When I say adapted, I mean stole completely!😉 It was an extremely useful tool and it’s helped me more than you would believe! So thank you very very much. Hope you are well and all is well in the Harrison household. All the best, UK Kate🙂 *still smiling!*

    • Hi, Kate.

      That is you? (big grin) I didn’t realize! (Which is why Guy just sends me names and photos to try to remove the partiality.) You should hear from Guy today. He’ll be trolling for the winner’s addresses.

      I’m so pleased you found the character grid helpful! That makes me feel good. Thanks! And yes–get yourself back on your regime if you can. What a world of difference it makes, little by little, day by day.

      –Kim

  7. Sara

    Hey Kim,
    Glad to hear about the 22 pages!!! YIPPIE!! 22 pages closer to a new book for me!!! :)~
    Exercising is a great way to relieve stress. I for one, love kickboxing. Punching the crap out of a bag while having your muscles burn, your heart race, and your breath heave… is a great way of taking your mind off things.
    Now back to work!!! I want more pages to read!!!!!!!!!!!

    take care

  8. Gwendalla

    I feel like it’s New Years, after reading your post I’m promising myself that I will get to the point where I enjoy exercise like that. You are inspiring!

  9. Matt Johannesen

    Hi Kim,

    I am re-reading White Witch Black Curse and I am just past Rachel’s first encounter with Mia/Holly and she is in the hospital. I was wondering if its not too spoilery that when Rachel’s aura comes back will it be without the smut??
    Also I am secretly in love with Ivy I think she is amazing so screwed up but very strong.
    I have a geek question to ask that really has no relevance but if it came down to a magical duel between Ceri and Rachel who do you think would win?

    • Hi, Matt.

      Ah, alas, it does not come back without the smut, but wouldn’t that have been nice? I hear you about Ivy. She needs someone.

      Ceri and Rachel? Golly, I don’t know! If it was in fun, I’d say Ceri, but if lives were in the balance, I think Rachel would pull a burning bunny out of her butt and win.

      –Kim

  10. Phil

    I love to walk, my favorite exercise, long walks along the beach close to the ocean, rural roads past farms and vineyards, and into the village, usually to the ice cream shop, lol, seriously though, walking’s great exercise, it clears the mind, and offers solitude which i find comforts the soul, all of which is excellent prep for writing or simply feeling content.🙂

  11. lol, my zone used to be late at night when it’s quiet and nobody’s about. (it was also the time I studied when i was still at Uni). Then, in the beginning of the year, i had a job that had me working 80 hours a week and the only time that I could write was in the morning before sunrise. To my surprize, my zone shifted and now, i’m at my most prolific before lunch.

    I love exersize though… I cycle every morning before breakfast, (if i don’t go riding) and have found that zone which you speak of when muscle and brain finally work together. I love it.

    ((I’m still giggling about sparkling vampires… I can’t help myself…))

    Have a great day ma’am.
    Alyss

    NaNoWriMo status: 36278. *Alyss thought of pointing out that KH is still ‘it’, then she looked at the pages that the author managed to produce in one day. She backs off, thinking to herself that sometimes, just sometimes, it’s better to let sleeping authors lie…*

    • Hi, Alyssa. I’ve never been one to write at night, but for a lot of people, that’s the best time.

      Mmmm. I’m at 18,000 right now, having put 3200 under my keyboard today. 😉

  12. Kylie Ru

    . . . I know when my zone isn’t. That’s 1-3 in the afternoon. If I can, I sleep then. If I’m watching a movie, then I’ll definitely fall asleep. I don’t know when my zone is. The ideas just come when they want.

    Wow, 22 pages? That’s awesome! Maybe? How many pages do you usually get in a day?

    • Hi, Kylie. If I don’t have a cup of tea about then, I get sleepy myself. I think it goes back to Kindergarden and naptime.

      22 pages was unusual for me, and I had to work at it. My usual page count is ten, but this is my job! 😉

  13. Brandi

    I’ve never looked at your blog before and have only come by this webiste one other time just to see when books were coming out. Thank you for this post it makes a lot of sense and is very encouraging to me!

  14. My pace is usually around 2000 words a day.😀 So Nano just got me back into my swing after getting married and settling in a nother city.😀 I’m so stoked and I’m working on my pacing. A writer friend of mine told me to slow it down, which increased word count and made the story flow better. ;-D

  15. Lisa

    I have to just post that this is absolutely true! When I was truly devoted to improving my writing and completing shtuff, rather than just starting it and letting it drop, I found that if I spent just 30 minutes a day (no more, no less) writing I eventually found my mind and body were able to focus together in the effort. It didn’t necessarily matter WHAT I wrote, as long as I wrote. I had a journal that when I couldn’t find my creativity inspired, I would just brainstorm and write about writing. It is an amazing excercise for anyone who wants to truly improve their writing skills and find that space! Well done!

  16. Stephenie

    I wish I could write 22 pages consecutively. I always have some sort of horrible emergency when I find my ‘zone.’ Like dinner… or homework -.-
    I love ellipticals! I should actually go use the ones that are in my gym since being a writer, and a jobless hippie college student is an amazingly low impact job. Who would’ve thunk it? lol I’ve been a little frightened of it though since the last time I got on it I went a little too fast and thought I was going to kill myself. Maybe I’ll go do that today. If you can do it, I’m sure I can.😀

    • Stephenie, I wish I could write 22 pages every day, too. My normal amount is about ten.

      I’m rather fond of my elliptical. Smooth and quiet, and it’s digital! (laugh)

      –Kim

  17. suzannelazear

    Hi Kim! The tot highly suggests rolling around in the grass as a nice, low impact excercise, she also suggests swinging and sliding.

    I write late at night when the tot is in bed out of necessity and can usually write 1-3k/day depending on how tired I am and how much attention other things need. But my natural zone is more around mid-day, like 10-2 where I’m at work. LOL. I’m almost at 19k now. Not bad for 6 days work.

    22 pages, that’s amazing. (that’s like 6k, right?)

    Have a fab day!

    ~Suzanne and the tot

    • Hi, Suzanne. Tell the tot that my dogs roll in the grass for me, and it looks scrumptious.

      Congrats on the progress! I’m right behind you at about 18,000, and yep–22 pages came in at 6800. I’m tired. Wednesday was more normal. I hit a little over 3,000 after a full day’s work.

  18. Great analogy to exercise, which I need more of. I am kicking myself for not participating in NaNo, not that I think I can write a book , but because I like a project.

  19. Antonio Rich

    22 pages! Damn, your a bulldog. That’s a whole chapter.

    Got my elliptical last year. I like that it’s QUIET. Do you listen to music? watch TV? Or, just enjoy the workout in silence?

    I noticed that you told Sara that BMS is set in the SUMMER…Is that true? did you decide to skip over SPRING?

    • Hi, Antonio. Yup. It was an entire chapter. And I’m tired!

      I keep it quiet when I elliptic. (is that even a word?) No thoughts is good.

      Ah, BMS is set in June, but it’s hot, so I said summer. (shrug)

      –Kim

  20. I cant even think about exercise right now with nano, that along with work is tiring enough. One thing i’ve noticed is if i’ve had a bad day at work don’t even consider writing, it just doesnt work because my heads elsewhere. During nano i’ve noticed that at work my brain is lightly ticking over the story so far and when it comes to sitting down i’m ready and as i type i am a slight hope skip and jump ahead of myself seeing what possiblities lead where, its like seeing the future and changing it to get the other outcome. Only thing is you’ve got to be able to see far in to the distance to see the effects.

    Rachel- UK @}~ Heading to 29k hopefully 30

    • Hi, Rachel. That’s why I only ask ten minutes of myself for excercising. I usually do more, but I only _have_ to give ten. If I can’t give ten then I’m not doing something right. Then again. Some days I can’t even give that. (laugh)

      Very cool on the lightly ticking. You’re doing great! I think I’m somewhere about 18,000, and closing on you fast!

      –Kim

  21. Janis

    I just noticed that the time of my comment is wrong. I posted that at 10AM, not 11AM. Hm. Just thought you’d like to know!

  22. Janis

    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better! I’ve had my share of debilitating injuries in the past, and I understand your frustration at not being able to move as well as you had.
    What exactly did you do to your back? Did you throw it out of place, or did you damage the ligaments? I’m fairly new to your blog, and though I read some of your older entries, I didn’t find one that said how you’d hurt your back.

    On another note: my boyfriend asked me for a list of books I would like for my birthday, and the first one on the list was Black Magic Sanction! Next to it was a note that it doesn’t come out until February, which would make it a very late birthday present, but I don’t mind! +^_^+

    • Hi, Janis.

      Most days are good, as long as I don’t do anything stupid. (grin) I’ve got a damaged lower disc, agravated by, ah, sitting. Just what a writer needs, huh? My kneeling chair works great, but I’m sure it doesn’t help my knees much. (rolls eyes) You won’t find me mentioning my back in previous posts unless you read between the lines.

      Whoo-hoo! Happy early birthday!

      –Kim

  23. Roger Simmons

    At Bitten by Books –

    “Who is the Vilest of Villains” poll,

    Piscary is in the lead. Al is in 5th.

    Roger – Illinois