Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Write Foot Forward: running as a writer

Having spent most of last year trying to cultivate a thankful heart around writing and working a Day Job I feel I know a thing or two about making connections. see, when you’ve hung your hat on being a writer and all gears shift toward achieving that goal it’s frustrating as hell to slog through traffic everyday and waste precious time at the Day Job. But I also knew I couldn't just quit the Day Job and write without getting paid (momma’s gotta pay the bills). Check out this great post by Chuck Wendig on writing full time.

So some attitude adjustment was needed.

Not just a minor adjust - a major adjustment. I couldn't slap a band aid on this issue. I needed a Day Job and in order for me to find peace I needed to find a way to marry my Day Job and my writing (connections). I looked for ways the Day Job actually made me a better, stronger writer.

Huh, you say. How can that be?

Day jobs help writers so much, whether it’s cultivating discipline, providing stability, or developing the oh-so-necessary, thick skin. These posts opened my eyes to the ways the world around us resonate with story telling elements. You know, the small stuff that permeates daily life unnoticed but is so deliberate when we craft our novels. Yeah, that stuff.

Late in 2013 I started running again. Not much, but a little here and there. I ran a few 5k’s and had a lot of fun. It was like I was coming home. And when I was pounding the pavement, in the zone, I was struck with the many, seemingly obvious, connections between writing and running (I feel a series coming on). Here are some ways the two disciplines are similar:

1. Running is Competitive – Less than 1% of the worlds population has run a marathon (I’d call that pretty flipping elite). Sound familiar? I couldn't find the specific numbers on people who have finished a novel but it's so, so similar.

2. It’s a Lonely Road – you can have a coach in writing and running but you, alone, must do the work. And in both, the work is long and lonely

3. Hard as Heck – Running aint easy. Neither is writing. Both can be miserable on their worst day and pull-your-hair-out-hard on their best days

4. Powered By You – External rewards cannot be the motivating factor, in either pursuit, or you will be doomed to fail. Because so much of success is out of your control in publishing and running to be satisfying you have to be driven from within.

5. Training Needed – Both pursuits require a boat load of training. Whether your train by reading, writing, or taking classes you better strap in because there's a boat load of it coming your way.

6. Require Rest – You think you can run 12 hrs straight? I doubt it. Same with writing. And even if you could, the quality would suffer.

And let's not forget that both running and writing, if done properly, are a form of art. Or when a runner gets in their groove for a long run they end up smelly and needing a shower, just like writers. Cuz, when the words are flowing I'm like: Showers?

But above all, writing is like running because both require solitude, discipline, and strength.

I have so much more to say on this topic I'll be revisiting it from time to time to expound. Examining the ways the Day Job helped me as a writer was motivating and empowering and I hope this exercise will be as well. LOL, exercise. Did you see what I did there?

Are you a runner? Do you see parallels between running and writing? If so share them here:

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