No, that’s not a typo in the title: klicks is slang for kilometres. What follows is my musing about how running and writing, two habits in my life, are alike.
So, how is writing like running?
And no, it’s not because it’s painful or because it gives you an excuse to have chips and beer (or chocolate and wine, as the case may be). Reviewing the list below, I think running might be a metaphor for life in general, not just writing.
I’ve already written a post about writing and cycling, so why not one about writing and running. I’m a runner. Despite huffing and wheezing my way around, I call myself a runner. Why? Because I’m out there in the pouring ran, in the dark of night, in the early dawn hours. Regardless of whether or not I want to run, I run. And I feel better for doing it.
So, already you can see the similarities.
1. It’s not always easy
Or in the case of running, it’s never easy. But there’s something inside that says do this thing. And so you do it, and you feel better afterwards, even if it was a slog actually doing it today.
2. Practice makes…better
Oftentimes, with both running and writing, it seems like it’s not getting any easier and you’re not getting any better no matter how much you do it. But you are. It’s just that someone keeps moving the bar a little higher, a little farther. It might not seem like you’re getting anywhere, but you are. The improvements are incremental, and you end up going faster or farther or delving deeper into character development without even realizing it.
3. Have a goal
Okay, maybe it’s just me, but having a goal helps me stay motivated when it’s raining or the the words aren’t flowing. That goal can be as simple as running the same route faster, finishing a 10K race, write 1000 words today, don’t fall (really, this is a valid goal — any run completed upright is now a good run).
4. Don’t have a goal
What, but you just said…yeah, I know what I just said. But I also think we sometimes just need to relax and put in the clicks. These are the runs where I’ve had that moment of zen, where thinks are just ticking along. And it’s when I sometimes thinking ‘hmmm, what should I write today’ that I have that idea that just flows.
5. Use the buddy system
This one’s about motivation again. It’s…hmmm, I wouldn’t say easier…less hard? It’s less hard to get out on those icky runs when you have some other crazy person going out with you. I finish my first half marathon when I was part of a running group. And I finished my first published book because of two things – a writing critique group and friends who are also writers poking, prodding and pulling me along (one of them also happens to be a running buddy — the run goes by faster when you’re bouncing ideas off one another).
6. Hills make you stronger
Sometimes you need a workout. So you go for a hill running, which entails running up a hill as fast as you can, jogging and then doing it all over again. But those workout reset your base to a higher setpoint. This goes back to ‘why isn’t this getting any easier’. Because you base is just moving higher. The same goes for writing, sometimes you need to work your way through writer’s block or struggle to find the perfect word, the best analogy, the optimum pacing — to really nut out a scene (and I’ll leave you to decide which definition of nut out I mean by that). But it all makes you better in the end.
7. Take a break
Sometimes you need to recharge the batteries and give the muscles and joints that work hard everyday a break (including the brain). I think I read that Steven King says he writes everyday (except maybe Christmas and New Year’s). But I’m not Steven King. I find taking a break from actually writing gives things space to rumble around in the cranium.
8. The power of habit
Once you make it a habit (see the buddy system), it’s more likely to just happen. Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Lather, rinse repeat. Or in the case of writing, pretty much every day, even if it’s just sitting down at the keyboard for 15 minutes and putting in the clicks.
I had a few more similarities, but it’s Sunday and I need to go for a run.