Happy November! This means we are just kicking off National Novel Writing Month. If somehow you’re unfamiliar despite my preptober posts last month, it is when insane people, myself included, participate in this annual event to write a novel (50,0000 words) in one month.
It’s truly a test of endurance and motivation.
In tandem with NaNoWriMo, I will be in the midst of training for a half marathon. The more and more I plan and prep for both undertakings, the more I realize how similar the two are. Enough to the point that I compiled this list of ways that writing a novel and running a marathon are essentially the same thing.
1. They’re taken one step at a time
Books are written one word at a time. Marathons are run one step at a time. Sure, there is a lot more involved with both, but if you boil them down to the basics it is just a succinct thread of mini accomplishments that carry you to the end.
Don’t get intimidated by the “big picture” and take one thing at a time.
2. Your friends might think you’re crazy
The people who are closest to you can be your biggest cheerleaders or your biggest cynics. They might ask why you’d ever sign off on doing such an insane task. The best part of having someone question your abilities is by proving them wrong. If someone has the audacity to undermine your ambition, you have earned the satisfaction to show them that you can do anything you set your mind to. Prove it to them, but mostly yourself, by crossing that literal or metaphorical finish line.
3. It takes a training
People can wake up and decide they want to write a book or run a marathon, but both will require preparation in order to succeed. This requires training. For runners, this means going to the gym, building up mileage, cross-training, staying hydrated, etc. For writers, this means brainstorming, outlining, studying writing craft, and also staying hydrated. The more you run the easier it gets, the more you write the better you get.
4. It’s easier with an accountability buddy
Nothing connects two people more than a grueling shared experience. When embarking on either task of writing a book or running a marathon, having someone doing it with you makes things a lot easier. You can check in on one another and celebrate each other’s progress. There is comfort in knowing that someone else is going through the exact same thing you are.
5. You don’t need to be a professional to do it
Anyone can write and anyone can race. Also, anyone can cook, but that is a segue into Ratatouille and thusly irrelevant. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to participate in a marathon, and you don’t have to have studied creative writing or literature to be an author.
Writers write, it’s what they do. Don’t let imposter syndrome get you down. If you write, then you are a writer. You can do this.
6. It’s more fun with others
In addition to an accountabilibuddy, having a community makes things a whole lot more enjoyable. There is strength and support in numbers. With everyone cheering each other on, that positive energy is infectious, and truly makes an impact on your motivation and performance. There is an intrinsic rush of adrenaline during a race, fueled by the anticipation and excitement of everyone surrounding you. When writing, those jolts of adrenaline come from sharing your progress and working with others in your writing community.
7. It’s a test of mind over matter
With any endurance demanding task, it comes down to mind over matter. Having an end goal can drive you forward. Reach for the finish line and listen when your body is demanding a break.
Don’t give up. Remember what sparked within in you to take on this endeavor and keep at it.
8. The middle is the worst part
Writers call the middle of writing a book “the murky middle’ for a reason. This is generally the time when your well-thought idea starts to not look so well thought of. Concepts get muddled, plot holes spring up, and you question how you’re going to get from point A to point B.
During a marathon, the middle is the point where the adrenaline has worn off and you start to feel that prickling of fatigue. You know there is a lot of road left ahead, and the prospect can be quite daunting. At this point, you might start asking yourself why you signed up for this in the first place?
9. You’ll hate yourself for signing on to do this at least twice
If writing a book or running a marathon was easy, anyone could do it! No one said that this would be easy. In fact, people probably told you the opposite.
Self-doubt starts creeping in. Your imposter syndrome flares up. And you question several life decisions that led to this moment.
This is when you dig down deep and keep moving forward!
10. Finishing is the best feeling in the world
I have finished races and novels, and both are incredibly momentous. It’s an accumulation of hard work and all of the emotions in between that have carried you on this journey.
Crossing the finish line feels fantastic, and deservedly so. With that final word or step, you have completed something many say that they will do and many fail to do. Great job, and don’t forget how far you have come and how much farther you can go!
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