Tag Archives: Novel

Writing/Running Mix

382058_623672603320_333651482_nPeople have asked me how in the world I find time to train for half-marathons, marathons, and write novels, all in my spare time.

Quick answer: Like I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, you don’t find time for anything, you make time.

Not so quick answer: Because they feed off of each other.

Huh?

Feed off each other?

Both activities take hours every week. Hours that I could be spending watching the latest episodes of Real Housewives of Topeka, Kansas—or something like that.

Running and writing feed off one another for a few simple, but critical reasons. If you can sit down and write a novel in a few months, you have the discipline to train for a ten-mile run in the same span of time.

1. Both take a ridiculous amount of patience.

Writing a novel takes a ton of patience. Despite popular opinion, you can’t write a good novel in a weekend. You can’t write a good novel in a week. Hell, sorry NaNoWriMo, but you can’t in a month either. A novel is a block of stone you have to chip away at. You can get a few chunks of it in a few heavy swings, but you’ll often be overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s best to take your time and settle into your work. Take the right amount of time to edit and revise. That’s the most important part of writing anyway.

Distance running is the same thing. You can’t go out and run ten miles your first day out. You may be able to sprint a quarter mile and knockout a large chunk quickly, but that will tire you out. Developing the skills for distance running helps me sit down in front of the computer and do the work I need to before I start my day job every day.

2. Physical exertion breeds creativity.

There may be a study that proves this. On the contrary, there may be a study that says this statement is completely full of shit. But I can’t count how many great writing ideas I’ve had in the middle of a long, gut-checking run.

I feel that my best ideas come when I’m struggling to keep my body moving forward. I don’t know if this is because I’m not trying to think of creative ideas—I’m just trying not to pass out. “Light Bulb Moments” seem to happen when you’re focusing somewhere else.

3. Running and reading work well together.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Ummmm … Nope! You can’t run with a book in your hand.”

I smile at you. I look to the smart phone you’re holding in your hand, and politely ask you if you’ve ever heard of audible.

You tell me that reading audio books isn’t reading at all.

I tell you that you’re full of shit. The purpose of any writing is to convey information. Words put a picture in your head, and make you imagine what the book says. As Stephen King says, it’s a version of telepathy. Whether you consume the words with your eyes or ears, it doesn’t really matter much, does it? Stephen King also said that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or skills to write. Why not read while improving your body?

4. They both teach you how to ‘junk punch’ self-doubt.

Every time I lace up my running shoes, I doubt that I’ll be able to reach my goal for the day. Likewise, when I sit in front of the computer, I doubt that I’ll type fast enough to reach my daily 1,000-word count before I have to go to work. I doubt my words will resonate with my desired audience. I don’t think I’ll run any faster on the trail than I ran two months ago.

Nearly every time I punch that doubt in the face and break through all doubts. It’s freeing. The next time I open my word processor or step out of my front door with my camel pack on, I do so with more confidence. Doing either activity enables me to believe in myself that much more the next time. There’s nothing better than working with confidence.

That’s the main thing these two activities bring into my life—self confidence. No amount of time and money can buy that.

The Best Thing About Writing

Last night I put the finishing touches on my 2nd novel this year (first draft that is). After writing two novels and several flash fiction stories this year, I feel like I’ve discovered the stage of writing that hits me the truest.

Of course,  it’s the ending.

I know, I know there are writers/critics who say writers are full of shit when they talk about how a story finds its legs and starts to walk on its own–I understand that. But anyone that’s ever said that has never written the ending to a novel. Yes, I’ve felt this way about some short fiction that I’ve done in the past, but this hit me much harder when putting on the finishing touches of my first two novels.

Something came over me.

Both days, I wrote substantially more than I’d ever written before. This wasn’t because I was trying to hit some sort of imaginary deadline, but because the words flowed like never before. The two instances when my typing speed couldn’t keep up with the pictures in my imagination happened to be when finishing my two novels. It felt as if a snowball had rolled downhill for months, and it got to the point where I could stop it no longer. It went past the point where I usually say, “That’s it for the day.” In some deep area of my subconscious, I thought I had to finish right then and there.

I usually have a hard time seeing vivid pictures of what I’m writing about. But in the end everything is crystal clear. It’s amazing. I’ve never heard the dialogue clearer, nor seen the pictures clearer.

It becomes its own person, develops its own mind, and sweeps you away as the writer–much like you hope it will the reader. In the end you lose all control and have to let the cards fall where they may.