Back on task

(Crossposted from

Currently working on: Light at the end of Book 4
Mood: Dazzled by oncoming train headlight

I’m late on this week’s post about staying motivated (Thursday instead of Monday isn’t toooo late, is it?) because a half-dozen looming deadlines motivated me to run away for a week of blissfully empty-headed camping in the high desert of Oregon.

I love camping and hiking. The simplicity and clarity of a week outdoors frees my mind. More importantly, there is no wifi cloud over Steens Mountain to distract me from vacationing.

There were, however, plenty of cloud-clouds over Steens Mountain. Notice how those clouds are dripping down the peaks toward my blissfully empty-headed self.

From the time the first drop of rain hit our peacefully sleeping, upturned faces at 10:30 pm on our first night (we normally don’t put up the tent and just toss the sleeping bags out under the stars), we knew this particular camping trip was going to require a little more from us than our usual blithe daisy-sniffing.

No, it was clear we’d have to work a little harder to stay motivated, especially once we encountered the rattlesnake:

And then more rain, then sleet, then hail and then snow:

Under such conditions, it can be hard to stay motivated. In fact, you might just want to curl up into a little ball and wait for the frost to melt:

But if you do that, you never make it out of camp. So, staying motivated — whether during mile 8 of a long hike or in the long haul of a big project (like, oh, say, Book 4…) — seems to me to call for many of the same responses:

1. Bring hot cocoa. Lots of hot cocoa.
Oh come on, you knew I was going to say that first. Little marshmallows are optional, but highly recommended.

2. Rock the proper footwear.
In the case of writing, you need thick socks and maybe slippers.  When desert hiking, solid boots (thick enough to take a rattlesnake strike, for example) are best.  When crossing semi-freezing, hail/sleet/snow-fed streams… Well, sometimes you just have to suck it up and run across in your bare feet and shriek while your nerve endings turn to popsickles. Sometimes good fortune and preparation must be replaced with dumb fortitude:

3. Have a hint of an idea where you are going.
Staying motivated is easier if you kinda know where you are going and how to get there. Having a map, a compass, and an emergency transponder beacon so the Mounties can come rescue your ass can keep your spirits up when the way gets dark.

It’s also good to stop and look up once and awhile. When you’re on the long slog, sometimes you find you’ve been staring down at your mud-covered boots for miles and have no idea where you’ve been or what’s head. Take a break, eat some chocolate (hey, why not?) and look around you.

(Yup, looks like rain. Possibly snow.)

4. Enjoy the successes.
Eventually the miles and the rains do end, and the sun comes out, and you can see what you’ve been working toward. Revel in it. Cuz you got a long walk back.

5. Dream big.
On our camping trips, we only have a week, so we make every moment count.  Not rain nor rattlesnakes can stop us. (Maybe briefly sidetrack us, but you understand.) Want it — and want it bad — and power your motivation on that desire. Feel it like the warmth of a sleeping bag as the sun goes down. Smell it like sun-heated pine trees. Taste it like hot cocoa with little marshmallows. Only you can walk the miles to where you want to be.