Writing & Running

Writing is like running a race.

How do I know this?

Cross Country — while I have never been exemplary in my time trials — is a passion of mine. Though the workouts can be brutal, the heat unbearable, and the hills pure evil, I love the fact that if I push myself, I can reach that finish line. The only opposition is myself and my body, and if I really want to improve, all I have to do is set a goal.

So, picture this:

You anticipate the beginning of the race as you’re shoved in with a crowd of other runners, all equally nervous and jumpy, and the gun goes off. This is similar to how a writer’s brain works (or, at least mine does) when a new story idea unfolds inside the mind. And, as your mind wraps around that concept, the words flow onto the paper without difficulty– you shoot past the starting line with confidence.

But soon…

You’ve been running for a while. Your breath has begun to grow heavier with each passing step, and you’re feeling doubtful that you can finish. This is the middle part of your journey — the part where the side cramps creep in, where your legs feel like jelly, and you gasp for air. This is the part where your mind has slowed, offering no ideas to plot, to characters, to setting, etc. In this instant, as you reach the halfway point, you can either decide to give up or to keep going.

So, do you let yourself walk? Leave the story behind as another, unfinished manuscript?

Or do you push through the pain, slowing your pace? Do you continue to write, even though your excitement has waned?

To me, the most important characteristic of a writer is the ability to persevere. As a runner, I also find this to be true in races, when you’re alone on the trails and fighting off the screaming of your body to just quit right there. In eighth grade, when I was tempted to do just that, a girl running behind me  — from an opposing team  — begged me not to stop. I was shocked that she’d said anything at all, and so I returned the motivation, thanked her, and continued chugging ahead (albeit at a slow pace). As a writing community  — and even as a society  — I believe that this is exactly what we should be doing. Sometimes, all anyone needs is a little bit of encouragement.

My main point: when the going gets rough, whether we’re talking about difficult terrain on a course or simply a lack of motivation with finishing chapters, you need to be able to break that barrier of “I can’t”.

Because in the end: you CAN.

But only if you’re willing to work for it, which means that practice and training are some of the most important aspects of your race, of your short story or novel.

“Like writing, running is so much about mind over matter. There are times when you have to override the discomfort and keep pushing. That capacity to endure and then prevail is just amazing.”

Susan Orlean
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

One thought on “Writing & Running

  1. Pingback: Second Anniversary! | Prosed

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