What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

03 November 2010

Writing a Marathon

... would probably be easier than running one was. Maybe.

So, in the past couple of weeks erica and christy posted about running and writing having a lot in common. And then sparquay also mentioned the two in the same sentence (although he would probably like for me to point out that he didn't actually draw a metaphor or make any kind of link between them). Since I am nothing if not a bandwagon joiner (that doesn't sound right), I am today fulfilling my duty as a running writer (or perhaps a writing runner) by telling you some things that the two have in common.

This would be one of those
notorious "inexplicably horrible"
race photos. For me, not Sarah. I'm
sharing it because it makes me laugh
at just how bad it really is.
1. Running looks easy until you actually try it.
I made this mistake at the tender age of 12; I joined the track team to have fun with my friends and participate in an "easy" sport. Ha! It may have been marginally easier for me than, say, volleyball or basketball, but that doesn't mean there was no work involved. There still is, in fact.

2. Writing looks easy until you actually try it.
I think I was about 10 when I wrote my first "book". It was one of the most frustrating months in my primary-school life, because it turned out to be a lot harder than anticipated to get what I was thinking onto paper. (Plus, I had to do it all by hand; no computer/word processor in my house.) Six months later, I couldn't read it without cringing. A couple of years later, I burned it (I'm kind of sad about that now). However, I will say that all the teachers I showed it to were very encouraging, and I learned a lot about supporting kids' interests from them. And I still struggle to write things that don't make me want to cry when I read them a year later.

3. Getting better at running takes a lot of work for incremental progress.
Speedwork. Tempo runs. Ice baths. Collapsing at the finish line. I've done them all in the name of 10-minute miles. (Yes, I really am that slow.) I'm still working to get faster, but the memory of all the pain it takes to go from 12-minute to 10-minute miles haunts me. I frequently have to finish a run focusing on one thought: Just keep going. (When I ran my marathon, I spent the last 90 minutes with that thought in mind.)

4. Getting better at writing takes a lot of work for incremental progress.
Not that I have arrived in any way, unfortunately. One of my rhetoric teachers says, "Good writing is all in the revision," and she is right. One of the reasons I work so hard at my rhetoric major is so I can learn to spot my mistakes before sending the finished project to an instructor/agent/etc. Progress is being made, but it's labourious at times.

5. Writing is like marathoning.
It's long and hard and you are going to consider quitting at some point, but the encouragement you get along the way is great. And there's nothing like the feeling when you finish.

6. Running is like NaNoWriMo.
If you don't work at it every day, it seems like it's too big a goal to finish. But it you do a little bit every day, you'll be there before you know it. And having intermediate goals, and chocolate, make the process so much easier.

7. Some days it's easier to sleep in, eat some cookies, and watch reality TV.
Applies to both.

8. And some days it's fabulously easy and wonderful and I forget all about the hard days (almost).

9. Both are pretty much life-long hobbies for me.
I've moved from the realm of "this can apply to pretty much everyone" and into the "about me" segment of this post. I can't remember when I didn't like writing (although I can remember with lots of clarity and angst when I didn't like writing for school). My mum tells me I started writing before I started school, just like reading. I don't actually remember that, but I do remember that I wanted to learn to read so I could read the Little House books, and once I accomplished that I wanted to write my own books. Yep, I've wanted to be a writer since the age of six.
Running came to me later; I started doing it with some seriousness when I was in middle school, as already mentioned. Before that I would run off and on, because I had been assured that if I wanted to play softball, I had to be able to sprint. (I have since lost all interest in softball... a story for another time, perhaps.)

10. But not consistent hobbies.
I finished middle-school track and put away my singlet, well, for good, since I would never wear one of those things now. Throughout high school, I would run a mile every now and then just to be sure I still hated it. I was an aim student when I picked it up again, and I ran through those horrible first few months of reverse culture shock. Then I stopped for a couple of years until I got married, when Chad & I started running together. We lost interest again for a while, but came back to it in 2007 & have been at it ever since.
There has never been a hiatus of years in my writing, but there have been gaps of months when I didn't put pen to paper (so to speak) for my own enjoyment. And I also have months when I'm in a writing frenzy (this would be one of them, what with NaNoWriMo going on).

11. At the end, I love them both.
Running is a stress-relieving hobby that occasionally causes stress. Writing is a stress-relieving wannabe profession that occasionally causes baldness from me tearing out my own hair. I don't love them equally-- writing comes out way ahead in that race-- but each one feeds the other. I write myself crazy then run to settle down but get new ideas while running so I go home and write until my fingers are numb then run to wake back up then write to calm back down. And so on.


erica and christy said...

Great post...nicely done! Try to wear a hat while writing to keep your hair! I work out all my writer's block while running, but it is stressful working it into my schedule! Best of luck with your NANO goals!!! christy (thanks for letting me know you posted this!)

Su said...

Ooh, good idea. I need a writing hat! :)
I've been downright lazy about running lately, but I keep calling it a time problem (I'm sure other people really have time problems, but I don't, that much). I need to pick it back up before the holiday cookies start coming my way!

a runners' life said...

I love this post -it's so true. Running and writing are so alike: torturous, rewarding, challenging, blissful - can't imagine living without them.

Su said...

Running is a good metaphor for everything! :)