Ruth shares some unique insights of characteristics shared by both running and writing. Enjoy!
All By Myself
Remember that song from the 70s? It’s so tragically sad, but true. Nobody wants to be alone.
One of the many similarities between writing and running is that both can be lonely.
I run and train for marathons and even a few ultra marathons. I have also written 8 books. Writing and running can be lonely, but at least with running, you can ask friends to join you!
But with writing, it’s up to you and you alone to do the work. For me, that’s why I set goals for myself. Setting goals keeps me on task. I let others know about my goals so I am held accountable. It helps!
“Attend a conference or join a critique group!” some writers have told me. They explain how these two actions will help end the loneliness. But, as with running, you’ll still have many moments alone.
During the last ultra marathon race I participated in, I was hit with this realization. During the day, I ran alongside many runners, but once the sun goes down at mile 31, many runners leave or head to their tents to sleep. That’s when the race is at its toughest. The trail is dark, the air grows colder, and all you hear is the sound of your shoes on the gravel trail. At that point in the race, you’ll want to quit. Running is much easier with the cheers from spectators and other runners around you!
Yet, you have to keep going, putting one step in front of the other. Writing is the same way. Conferences are terrific! I love meeting other writers and attending workshops so I can learn more about the craft. Critique groups are so helpful. But once I return home from a conference or critique, however, I have to sit at my desk with the computer and work…ALONE.
Family and friends encourage you to write, as those race spectators encourage you to run and that does help. They patiently listen to you summarize your plot, describe your characters, and detail the setting, God bless them. Without them, you’d probably give up.
A race is a race, and there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing the Finish Line as you near the end. Same with writing. It is a race to the finish! We may have pending deadlines created by publishers or ourselves. These finish lines motivate us to stay the course.
Yes, as with running, writing can be lonely. Like training for a marathon, writing requires discipline and endurance.
Finally, as with racing, there is a prize at the end. A reward is needed to remind you why you set out to complete a grueling race or why you are determined to write a book. Make sure you have a reward set aside for yourself, whether it’s a release party, a dinner with family, or a vacation/retreat. Do something good for yourself, you deserve it!
After I complete a book, I throw a party. After an ultra marathon, my family and I usually go out to dinner so I have replace all those calories I burned off. All the pain and loneliness of training is worth it as I sit and celebrate with my family.
These are the lessons I have learned. I keep setting writing goals (I plan on publishing 3 books this year…) along with running goals (triathlons and a half marathon later this year) so that I am motivated to continue.
I stay motivated to endure to the end so I can cross that finish line with my head held high.
Keep running! Keep writing…