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Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Secret About Running & Writing



That meme up there is absolutely true, and the same goes for a writer... The most difficult word a writer writes is often the first. 

Butt in the chair, right?

But there's something more. Nobody tells you when you're first starting to run that it takes a few miles before you warm up and hit your stride. For years, I hated running and never went further than two miles. Because they sucked.

Well, guess what?

The first two miles still suck. But I put my head down and soldier on, one step at a time. And amazingly, around Mile 3 or 4, almost without fail, it suddenly becomes easier. 

(Side note: That easy bit crashes and burns around Mile 8, but ignore that for the sake of the awesome analogy I'm building.)

Yesterday, I stared in agony at my blank page in Word for half an hour (while writing a battle scene, no less, which should have been easy). I desperately wanted to quit, to throw in the towel with an epic daily word count of... 26. 

But I didn't.

And slowly but surely, the words started to come. It took another half hour to get the four pages I told myself I had to type before I could watch an episode of Doctor Who, but it didn't matter, because those four pages had suddenly gotten easy.

So, yeah, running is hard. And writing is hard. Sometimes they both downright suck. But often, if you just keep at it, you'll hit your stride. And although I'm not promising the miles or the words will ever come easy, sometimes they just might.  

And regardless, when you've finished that long slog of a run or the chapter that almost killed you, you feel really, really damn good. 

And then you can eat ice cream cake and watch Doctor Who.

6 comments:

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Loved this, Stephanie! And very timely for me. I'm at the end of my book. Should be easy to write the 2 to 3 scenes that are left. Nope. Don't want to do it. My deadline is wickedly approaching, and yet, nothing.

All right. Just going to do it.

Julie Dao said...

I always complain about being too lazy to work out, but after those first five minutes, I'm in the zone. And I never know why I complained! The two hardest hurdles for me are: 1) starting, and 2) pushing through the midpoint/three-quarter mark. Great post!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Tiffinie--I don't know why the easy stuff if often the stuff I drag my feet on the most. I've got everything plotted for my current novel and sitting down every night is KILLING me!

Julie--I've decided that I simply can't think about working out. I just have to do it because if I think about it, I'll find a million and one reasons why I don't have time for it. And yes, the midpoint stinks!

Mark Noce said...

Running and writing is a great combo. I pref long distance, but yeah, I don't try to go past 8 miles...yikes! Good luck with your battle scene. Sometimes the best battle scenes are ones where you only catch the very start or the tail end of the fight...it lets the reader's imagination fill in the rest:)

Stephanie Thornton said...

Mark--There are a lot of battles in this book, compliments of Alexander the Great, so I'll be taking your advice of just including the start or the end of many!

Cinthia said...

Loved this, Stephanie. I just found your blog via your Twitter friend request (thanks so much!) and I'm an Alaska writer and runner and also don't warm up until mile 3-4 of a run, which is probably why I prefer distance (I also rarely write short stories, only novels--is there a correlation?). Anyway, great to meet up with you, and happy writing and running.