Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seeing the Finish Line: How Running & Writing Are One in the Same

By April Moore

In January 2007 I quit my job as a paralegal to finish my first novel. In January 2014 I began training for a half marathon. Did that first book get published? No. Did I run that half marathon? No. The novel, the body of work, wasn't ready. Myself, my body, that is, wasn't ready. An MRI nine days before the race confirmed the presence of a stress fracture in my left shin. All that writing! All that training! And for what? Well, to show me I need a stronger manuscript to get it published, and I need to be physically stronger to cross the finish line. As I thought more about these two passions of mine, I saw many correlations, which actually made it easier for me to accept the challenges and move forward.

Consume Lots of Calories/Consume Lots of Books.  Given the amount of running required to train for a race, adequate fuel can make or break your success as a runner. Without it, you won’t outrun the neighbor’s Corgi, let alone 13.1 miles. With writing, you must up your intake of books and absorb everything you can to hone your writing skills. Burn through those calories; burn through those books.

Cross Train/Expand Your Writing Repertoire. It’s imperative to take two days off a week from running and replace it with the elliptical, yoga, strength training or Pilates. It’ll build strength while keeping your body from burning out on running. Same goes for writing. Step away from your WIP and try something new to expand your writing skills. Dabble with poetry, flash fiction, or even a genre you've never attempted before. It can jump start your creativity while strengthening your writing muscles.

Rehab Injuries/Learn From Rejection. To run a half marathon, I need to take the time to rehab those weak muscles and focus on strengthening them. Getting rejections from agents only show that more work may be needed to strengthen your manuscript, query letter, or book proposal. Don’t look at it as something you can’t overcome. Sure, it’ll take work and it may be painful, but by committing to it, you’ll return stronger and wiser, having learned from past mistakes that led to the stress fracture, or to that rejection letter.

Honing your writing skills and strengthening your muscles, will only help you overcome the bumps in the road to publication, or to the finish line.

April Moore, author of Folsom’s 93: The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison’s Executed Men, is applying what she’s learned over years of writing, by working on a new novel and is currently in physical therapy in order to run a half marathon this fall. 


Patricia Stoltey said...

Good post, April. I've never tried training for a half-marathon (and never will), but your writing advice is right on. I especially like the part about reading because I sometimes fall into the trap of spending too much time at my computer (playing) when I should be reading books in a variety of genres.

Dean K Miller said...

Having completed a few "halfs" and one "full" marathon, yes, writing a book is a very similar process. The peaks and valleys of training mirror what writers often experience.

Nowadays I find my training more aligned in the book "workout" room than on the roads, but one never knows when the call of the finish will be heard again.

Jerry Eckert said...

Thought provoking post, April. And I'm sorry about the marathon. I had it on the calendar to congratulate you when next we meet. So, congratulations on lessons learned, howz that?

Sarah Sullivan said...

Great points! Good post. Best of luck on your eventual marathon. I aspire to run one someday. I'm so sorry about your injury, but you just may come out stronger!

Shirley Drew said...

Great post, April! And while I write creative nonfiction--and often say "I couldn't write fiction to save my life"--you've encouraged me to try. Need to flex those poor muscles. Thanks! And best of luck on the marathon front!

Greengabardine said...

Love the parallels between the two! Great post.

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