I’m certainly not the first to make the connection between running and writing. I think it’s because writers tend to be kind of neurotic, and runners tend to be kind of neurotic, and so it’s only natural the two groups would overlap somewhat. Still, even though the comparison between the two groups is becoming a bit of a cliche, it’s worth considering what running can tell us about writing.
In the middle of my long run on Saturday, I started to enter The Zone, a pseudo-trance wherein everything seems interconnected and every idea seems like the bomb-diggity. (This is why I try not to write after a run. I end up making notes to myself that read like a beatnik’s diary. At the time I’m like, Check out the rocks, man, THE ROCKS! and then I read it later and think, ¿Que?)
Anyway, during my run, as I was thinking that this training business is bananas, I figured out why the running-writing metaphor works so well.
One long run isn’t going to train you for a race. In fact, you could seriously hurt yourself if you don’t back it up with lots of shorter runs. Similarly, one long writing day isn’t going to finish your novel or story unless it is interspersed with lots of other writing days.
It’s consistency that’s important to succeed at both. Yeah, there are going to be days when you stare at the blank screen or paper and have nothing interesting to say, just like there are going to be days when you can’t muster the strength to put another foot forward. But as long as you get up day after day and try, you’ll eventually reach your goal, whether it’s finishing that story or completing that race.
Keep writing, my friends.
(PS—and if this post on running and writing isn’t enough for you, check out Libby Heily’s collection of short stories, Fourth Degree Freedom, now available for $0.99 on the Kindle. Her story, “The Last Six Miles,” is about a woman’s transformation through running. Buy it today!)