Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing is Like a Marathon, but I Wouldn't Know.

Writing is Like a Marathon, but I Wouldn’t Know.
By Brad Cook

This week I hit the last period on my latest manuscript. It’s a wonderful feeling and anyone who has finished a novel can tell you there is nothing like sitting back and looking at everything you’ve accomplished. I imagine it’s the same for marathon runners after they finish a race, but I wouldn’t know – I could never survive a marathon.

Writing/Running Everyday
Marathon runners have to train everyday to build up their bodies for the race. Writers have to work every day as well. Books don’t write themselves, so sit down every day and put words on the page. If you write nothing more than a page a day in a year you’ll have a novel.

Slow steady progress – not like those sprinters, the poets
You can’t sprint for 26.2 miles and you can’t write a book in a night. Novels take time. Weeks, months, or even years can be spent pouring over the words. So, just like the guy running full tilt at the start of a marathon, the guy trying to write a book in a week probably won’t finish. Writers need to understand that it is steady progress that gets a books finished. Unless you’re a poet, they can crank those out in no time. Poets are the sprinters of the writing world.

Years of training to be the best
You can’t just wake and decide to run a marathon that day, just like you can’t wake up and write a best-seller. Writers constantly hone their craft through workshops, writing classes, webinars, and conferences. They keep us sharp and our writing improves with every new lesson.

Creeping doubts of quitting that must be overcome
Having never run a marathon, I don’t know how often it happens in a day. I bet it varies, though, probably happens at every race. Doubt is the mind-killer. For marathon runners doubt springs up with every ache and pain, with every quiver of muscle. For a writer, doubt comes with every awkward sentence, every new draft, or article on publishing that is read. Doubt can cripple the muse, but overcoming these emotions not only makes a stronger writer/runner, but is essential to finishing.

So write like a marathon runner:
Write everyday or most days.
Keep training and improving your craft.
Keep hydrated – but maybe just drink some water, you don’t need to splash it all over your laptop.
Keep your focus on the finish line.
And never give up!

Just remember what John Steinbeck used to say – “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.”

So if writing a novel is like running a marathon – what is publishing like? Entering an Ironman triathlon! Good luck!

What is writing like to you? Let us know in the comments.

Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit , follow me on Twitter @bradrcook , or my tumblr page Thoughts from Midnight

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