Friday, June 8, 2012

What Do Number of Words Written and Miles Run Have in Common?

If you’re not a writer or a runner, probably nothing. But for writers, it’s everything. Many of us set daily goals to write 500, 1500, or more words per day. If you’re writing a 100,000-word novel and want to finish a draft in a couple of months, you’ll need to write at least 1500 words a day, every day. At 250 words per page, that’s six pages. Not a lot, really. And they don’t have to be great words. You just want to get them down on a page. You can’t edit a blank sheet of paper.

To a runner, miles run each day changes depending on the goal. If you’re running for fitness, you might have a regularly scheduled group run and meet your running buddies at Starbucks every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. to run a set distance. If you’re training for a race, you’ll have a schedule. For the month of June, my schedule looks like this: Monday—5 miles, Tuesday—4 miles, Wednesday—6 miles, Thursday—4 miles, and Saturday—10 miles.

            Beginning in July, the Wednesday runs increase to a max of 10 miles and the Saturday runs increase to a max of 20 miles until the race on September 15.

            So what do the number of words written and number of miles run have in common?

The accomplishment of short term goals. Writing a 100,000-word novel is a daunting challenge, as is running 26.2 miles within a 2-4 hour timeframe. To look at the entire picture could be self-defeating. “No way, can I write that many words. No way, can I run 26 miles.” Without setting short term goals and meeting them, that’s probably true. I couldn’t go out today and run the distance, but with training, I will.

There are days when I battle an inner voice. “You don’t feel like running today. You’re legs are sore. Take a day off.”   Or, “You don’t need to write today. Work on what you did yesterday or do some research.” Or, here’s a real time sucker. Look for new marketing opportunities on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, Necessary? Yes. But without setting the clock beforehand, you can lose hours of your day and not accomplish much of anything.

One of my favorite time suckers is MayMyRun. I can easily spend an hour mapping a 12-mile course I won’t need until July. Instead of mapping a future run, I should lace up my Newtons and stop procrastinating.

So what’s my advice?

A ticking clock. There’s nothing better than the sound of time slipping by to get you motivated and moving forward.  Without a deadline, I’m often stuck on MayMyRun, a/k/a, research/marketing.

When I started running, I was invited to run with 3 people who quickly became great running buddies. They advised me, encouraged me, and their personal running stories challenged me. If they could run marathons, I could, too.

You need an accountability partner when you write. That might be a critique partner, an editor, or a friend who really cares about you and your success. And it’s the same way with running.

Why do writers post their word counts and pages written on social media sites? For accountability. You want your fans, waiting patiently for your next book, to know you're working. 

Runners connect their running app to social media sites for a similar reason. We all need someone to hold us accountable. It’s too easy to fall over when you don’t have anyone ask, “How many pages did you write today? How many miles did you run?” Who wants to feel like a failure and say, “Zero?”

When you're doing both (writing and running) you have double the pressure. Thank goodness I have someone who asks.

If you don’t have an accountability partner, call a friend today and ask for help. You'll be glad you did.

Happy writing and running, Kathy

1 comment:

Cherie Marks said...

Great post, Kathy. The comparison really works well.