This past weekend I was in Las Vegas with my husband and our daughter. They were both registered to run 13.1 miles ( 1/2 marathon) of the Las Vegas Marathon. To anyone who has every attempted even a 5k race, you know the most important part of the marathon is the preparation for it.
My husband is a lifelong runner, my daughter relatively new to the sport, so they prepared in different ways. Both finished exceptionally well, especially for the horrendous weather conditions at the start and end of the race, and both were fine the following day – a little tired, a tad stiff, but no major problems. Their dedication to finishing the race upright and in a certain time frame made me very proud as a wife and mother, and it re-instilled in me my own dedication to writing.
Why writing, you ask? What’s one got to do with the other? Well, I’ll tell you.
Training for the race required a daily commitment to running. A training schedule of increasing miles per day, and then a rest day thrown in, helped with the endurance needed for the long haul. Eating well, at certain times, and foods high in protein and nourishment, allowed their bodies to be at peak performance to withstand the grueling conditions and the long time length the run required. This was no sprint. Muscle training with weights strengthened them to endure the pounding their bodies would take with each stride and sprint. All of this took time, dedication, commitment, and mental focus.
Much the same way writing a novel takes.
You don’t sit down at the laptop and write 75,000 words in one day. Even NaNoWriMo allows you 30 days to write 50,000. No, you write a certain number of words every day, all adding to the gist of the storyline. I once heard Nora Roberts describe why she writes every single day ( like I do.) She said, and I’m paraphrasing, writing is like using a muscle. When you don’t exercise it, it atrophies or weakens and it takes much longer to get it back in shape. To write every day keeps the brain fresh and the storyline clear. Setting out to write a novel takes focus and dedication even when you fall into a plot hole or don’t know where you’re going next. You keep moving forward toward the end. Your brain needs to be nourished and healthy just as your body does, to be able to form coherent sentences and remember where you’re going with the plot.
So marathon running and novel writing are more alike than you’d think. And in the end, one will earn you a medal, and both with give you the satisfaction of a job well done.