So after that year where I focused all my energy on becoming a runner, I experienced the Runner’s High and ended the summer with a 10K run under an hour! I was very proud of myself and promptly sat on my butt for the winter and turned my attention to writing. Writing is not conducive to maintaining weight or physical stamina! But I did experience the Writer’s High – finishing a novel, working hard at revisions and sending it out for other people over and above myself to read. And they liked it, they really, really liked it.
Lately, with all this BICHOK I’ve been doing (both with writing, blogging every day and The Day Job), I’ve noticed a lethargy and weight gain. Of course, I could also blame the aging process or the food and wine, but I’m sticking with the BICHOK excuse! Time to get back on some kind of exercise program and why not running. I laced up my shoes about 3 weeks ago and have been working at getting back in shape.
Like. Not easy!
And for the first two weeks, I kept berating myself for getting out of shape and not being able to run for longer than a minute when I had ran for 10K seven years ago. Then, this week, as I was stumbling along, I connected my running with my writing. Especially writing a first draft.
- My running is awkward. My stride isn’t long nor are my arms pumping back and forth in perfect unison. I put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. Just like a first draft. It’s not going to be pretty. And it certainly isn’t going to be perfect. No one expects it to, so stop beating yourself up.
- Go for as long as you can. Don’t try to run the 10K the first time out. And don’t try to get that first draft done in 3 months. Baby steps. If you can only write 500 words at a time, then do it. Soon, like running, you’ll be adding to that word count because you have the drive and stamina to do so.
- The more you write, the better you’ll get. Same with running. As mentioned above, my running is awkward and gainly. I stagger over the road, shuffle my feet, drop my arms, raise my shoulders, move so slowly sometimes I think I would get there faster if I walked. But over the last 3 weeks I’ve noticed improvement. Just like writing – you’ll improve the more you practice.
- Your technique will not be the same as other writers. Or runners. A lady ran past me the other day, her head held high, a bounce in her step, arms pumping rhythmically. I never looked like that even when I was running constantly during that year. The same goes with writing. I can never write like Karyn or Jana or Hayley or any of the other chicks. And if I try to copy them, I’ll end up failing. Just like if I tried to mimic that lady runner. Number One I would be dead on the road after only 10 bouncy steps because I’d be out of breath. And Number Two I’d look like a goof – she didn’t look like a goof, but that’s her style. Running like her would only contribute to me failing. Writing like someone else would only result in me getting frustrated and quitting.
- And just because you’ve run the distance you set for yourself, doesn’t mean you’re finished. A first draft requires revision, critiquing, more revision, and submission. And/or you start again. If you stop after that one manuscript, when you go back to writing, you’ll be starting from scratch. Don’t stop. Set new goals. Strive for longer distances. Keep moving the finishing line so that first draft becomes the first of many! And that first kilometer ran in one shot becomes 2, then 3, then 10!
So start. Go slow. Be OK with your technique, no ones watching. Set small doable goals. When you reach them, set new ones. Put one word in front of the other, one sentence after the other. And don’t stop and go back – why would I now, after working my way up to running a kilometer without stopping, go back to running between one set of telephone poles? And most importantly, be kind to yourself – you’re not going to keep at something if every time you try and work at it your inner critic ridicules your efforts.
Ooh, that hit home. Right there – smack up the side of my head. I’m my harshest critic when it comes to writing. When I run, I ‘coach’ along the way – "Great job! Just over the hill! You can do it! You’re almost there!" Why don’t I do that with my writing?
So, People of Blogland, any runners out there? Any other sports analogies – share them with us in the comment section. And, finally, do you ‘coach’ yourself while you’re writing or are you your harshest critic? I’ll be back to read comments after I go for my run!
Janet (who has many first drafts languising on a hard drive because she's being too hard on herself)