Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Writing and Running

Writing is a lot like running. Both require stamina and vision, and a wealth of patience. When people compare writing a novel to giving birth, it gives me pause. They're so different. Perhaps if a couple is battling infertility and has to hold on to hope and patience in order to have a baby, then it is similar, but for most couples, it involves the initial action, followed by nine months of waiting. Now before you start throwing things at the blog, I'm not saying it isn't difficult to carry a baby. I have the utmost respect for mothers, however, you don't have to continually work at it. You take care of yourself, visit the doctor regularly, and make sure to follow a set of guidelines.

In my opinion, writing a novel is more like running a marathon. You put in months--sometimes even years--of training, wake up early on weekend mornings to run for hours, run in the evening after work or during lunch breaks in an effort to get in the miles. Your diet and sleep schedule revolve around your runs. (Trust me, you don't want to eat or drink the wrong thing before a long run!) You have little time for friends, other than running buddies. And when the big race day finally arrives, you fight not only a physical battle to reach the finish line, but more importantly, you fight a mental battle to convince yourself that you can indeed keep running, even though it's already been 20 miles and your knee hurts and your feet are swelling and you're not entirely convinced that you can even lift your feet on your own accord to run 6.2 more! That is how writing a novel feels to me at times. I spent two years researching and writing the first draft, and at the end felt such a rush of accomplishment, until I realized I had only completed the first 20 miles; I still had editing and revisions, and major plot holes, and could I really do this what the heck was I thinking?!

I feel like I'm on mile 25.2 right now. Only one mile to go...but what a long mile it seems!


Rebecca said...

yeah, I don't think the comparison to having a baby is apt either - having a baby is much easier. Can't say about running though - have never tried it- am far too lazy.

JJ Beattie said...

Hmmm, interesting.I've always thought the analogy was a good one but thinking about it again, I'm not so sure.

Actually, your analogy of a couple battling infertility IS more apt. It took me years to believe I could write a book and the gestation of an elephant to actually do it!

I can't compare it to running a marathon as I'm not in any danger of doing that... EVER.

Kristen @ frostingandfroth.com said...

Fair comparison, I think. I was in a heck of a lot of pain around mile 25 and it was a mental hurdle getting to 26.2. I would give you advice on what worked for me then, but somehow I don't think eating a banana and envisioning a long shower would do the trick for you in your current predicament.

Hang in there! Hugs!

KatW said...

I think your analogy of marathon running fits very well. I don't run but your description made a lot of sense.

I had to smile in recognition about finishing the first draft & then realising you've got a whole lot further to go. I was convinced I'd soon be submitting but I keep coming across new hurdles.

Hope the last mile goes well. Kat :-)

Angie said...

Rebecca, regular running isn't so bad (I love it), but the marathon training was exhausting. Still, I love the feeling of accomplishment afterward. I guess running a marathon and writing a novel require a small degree of masochism? ;)

JJ, I can definitely see the parallels with an infertility battle. Like you, it took me years to believe, and even more years to write and edit.
Haha, your last line made me laugh. :)

Kris, darn. If only a banana and a nice shower visualization would help! On my last mile I was visualizing the men in suits with my Tiffany's necklace. Come to think of it, that might actually work...I'll have to tell the husband I just need some Tiffany's to get there! ;)

Kat, it's funny how those hurdles sneak up on you, isn't it? I suppose if we thought ahead to the post-first draft stage, we might never make it through the first draft itself! Better to take each stage as it comes, or else the whole process seems enormous
Thanks you. x