Going the distance

I used to be a pretty hardcore distance runner. Emphasis on the “used to.” I went out for a (not long at all) run this morning and got to thinking about running and then about writing and finally about how my writing journey is pretty similar to my running journey.

There were days when I could leave my house before the sun came up, get in an easy 13 mile run before breakfast and not even break a sweat. Just like writing. There are some days where I tap into the creative well and the words effortlessly flow out of me. Those are the days I sit down to write and six hours go by in a blink.
But those glorious days—the running and writing euphoria days—are few and far between.
Distance running is hard. Yes, you have to train physically to handle the miles, but more than anything, distance running is a mental game. I tend to be a very mental person in that I psych myself out at each turn, so whenever I would set out on a run I wasn’t entirely feeling, I would have 99 different voices in my head telling me to give up. Nay, screaming at me to give up. The trick was to drown them out and find the 1 that told me to keep going.
And that right there is writing for me. It’s easy to get discouraged, to let yourself think that you’re never going to make it, that you suck, that you need to give it up already and do something practical. This is something I struggle with, no doubt. Hard as it is in the moment, I try to (somewhat politely) tell those voices to STFU and focus on the one that tells me I CAN do this. And sometimes that voice doesn’t come from within me. It comes from my beta readers or my critique group or even my husband. But the important part is that I listen to it and keep going. I don’t know where my finish line lies, but I’m still trudging after it. One step at a time.
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6 Responses

  1. Marilyn Almodovar says:

    *gives cookies* I think every writer feels like this at one time or another. The most important thing is to keep going. It is also the hardest. Our profession doesn't have to be solitary. This is why I love places like AW and other forums where we can share our aspirations and work with other writers and get motivated.
    Thanks for the great post!

  2. Su says:

    You ran 13 miles without sweating? How?? I can't run 13 feet without sweating!!

    It's true– those effortless days (in running, in writing, in life) make it so worthwhile, but they are rare indeed. Makes the rest of the slog worth it, though.

  3. Meredith says:

    Thanks, Marilyn! I agree, places like AW are wonderful, as if having a good critique group. They pick me up when I'm down and encourage me to keep at it!

    Su, the 13 mile days are looooooong gone! Now I max out at 3, and I'm panting and wheezing at the end. 🙂

  4. Marieke says:

    Hear hear! And *hugs* Yes, you can. Definitely.

  5. Meredith says:

    Thanks, Marieke! 🙂

  6. Hayley says:

    Haha, I have trouble even running a mile. I'm so out of shape! But I know exactly what you mean about writing…I have to really push myself, sometimes, but I think it's worth it, even in the rough times 🙂

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