If you’re just tuning in, I wrote a part 1 to this post where I shared the first two lessons that I took from running and applied to my writing. And it’s not just for me. It’s for you too. Heck, you don’t even have to be a runner to take something from these lessons to apply to your writing (seriously, I won’t tell the running police).
So without further ado, here are two more lessons that can applied to your writing. I know the list doesn’t end here, though, so if you have any other insights, share those below!
Lesson 3: Sure it helps to have the right equipment. But you can get started with what you have.
When you take up a new activity, it can be enchanting to go after all of the widgets that go along with that activity. For some things, those widgets are completely necessary. If you’ve ever tried biking, you know you need more than just a helmet. With running, though? The only things required are what you believe are required. I know people who run in their oldest tennis shoes, ratty sweatpants and a concert t-shirt. If it works, it works. Other people I know use FitBits and heart rate monitors and compression socks and sunglasses, special running shoes and sweatbands and dri-fit shirts and running skirts, and anti-chafe cream and goos and gels and headphones that are way too big. Okay, maybe not everything all at once, but you will see at least one person like this running any race you participate in. I fall somewhere in the middle. I invest in a good set of running shoes, I like my clothes to be dri-fit so that they wick away sweat/moisture (because chafing is da’ devil), and I wear really big puffy headphones that my husband believes were created in 1981 (but they still sell them Jake, so get over it!).
But if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, I would take my running shoes and leave all the rest behind (I assume they’re fast zombies like in “World War Z”…the movie, not the book…that was a Hollywood special effect add in). I just need that one thing to keep running.
Find your one thing. Don’t get hung up on what other people need to be successful.
With writing, it can feel daunting at first. Did you read enough of the right books? Did you set out with the right plan? Did you make sure to research your characters and the setting where your story takes place? Did you buy that fancy book-writing software? Did you buy a Mac book to make your writing more efficient (or at least make your #amwriting posts on instagram look fancier)? Did you buy a leather-bound journal and a fancy pen?
I can tell you this much, I did none of that. I just set a word goal and I used whatever machine allowed me to type text somewhere where I could save it. Even now, I still don’t have any fancy software. I didn’t do a lot of research on my characters or setting. I didn’t upgrade my computer. I did, however, read a couple books on finding your inner artist, which I found helpful, but by no means was that the catalyst to starting to write a book. And the thing is, you can get started just as easily. And then after you build up a foundation, that’s when you can start assessing what’s in your writer’s tool box. Just don’t let that be the thing that stops you from writing.
Start with whatever is around you.
Lesson 4: Yeah it sucks. Get over it.
Ready for some tough love? Because here it comes. Running is not easy. Even when you have a training plan and you start slow, it’s really hard. And on top of being really hard, it takes a long time to build up your mileage. Most training plans last 12 weeks when you train for anything over 10 miles. That’s 12 weeks of logging miles week after week. Some good runs, but mostly bad or hard runs. At times, you want to give up. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel until it’s actually race day. But if you put in the work, and you deal with the sucky stuff, you will be rewarded in the end. Whether it’s running a distance you’ve never run before, or it’s hitting a PR with a time you’ve never had before, you’ll know that all of the hard work was worth it.
Do the sucky stuff. It will only make you stronger.
Writing a book is a lot like this. When I first started writing my book, I was pumped up about the idea of it. I wrote scene after scene and it felt like I was making big strides forward. After a couple weeks, though, it felt a little tiring. Some days I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about. Some days I had nothing left in the tank. Some weeks, I didn’t hit my word goal. I would go days and weeks unsure if what I was doing was what a good writer was supposed to do (even though my idea of a good writer was just something I’d built up in my mind). And then I’d eventually find a bit of inspiration, a magical scene that tied everything together, or a solution to a character conflict that I hadn’t previously seen. That’s how writing goes. Some days are good. Some days are not that great. You can’t expect that every time you sit down to write that it’s going to be the most amazing thing you’ve ever written. But even when it’s not great, you have to keep going.
Put pen to paper even when it feels like throwaway work.
Stay tuned for more. The best is yet to come.
As always, I got a little caught up in my storytelling and ran out of room for the final two lessons. If you just can’t wait for the next post, you can find a little more inspiration before then by checking out my 10 book writing tips for your first novel. Until then, go do something brave.
Update: Read the last of the lessons in Part 3 of this series.
*When I posted that picture on Facebook, my mother’s comment was, “Congrats on the run Jamie, but the unicorn head is pretty creepy looking… Love you.” It’s nice to know that someone gets me.