Taking it steady

I’ve vowed to run a half marathon and complete my novel by next year sometime. To be honest, I could probably do both of those a lot sooner. But it wouldn’t be pretty and I wouldn’t enjoy the process or the result.

Realistically, I’m not going to go out and run 13 miles tomorrow. That would only leave me in pain and upset because I did badly and didn’t enjoy it. I’m going to build up the distance gradually, and accept that it will take a while to be able to run the whole distance, and I’m not going to set any records doing it.

In the same way, I could call what I’ve written a novel. Or I could labour and agonise over it and then get upset and give up because it’s not as good as I would like it to be. But I’d be better off taking it steady, fixing the plot first of all, and then worrying more about the wording, because the more experience I get the more I’ll improve, and I shouldn’t be taking on more than I’m comfortable with at any stage, while also not allowing myself to sit back and do nothing.

The key to both is that steady does it. We can worry about quality and speed later, let’s just make sure I get to the finishing line. And after that there’s another and another to look forward to, and by the time I’ve done a few I’ll be doing so much better than the first time, more easily.

And then I’ll wonder what all the fuss is about.

I wonder, do experienced writers, who have no trouble creating a sound plot and characters and stringing the prose together, remember the days when it was hard for them to write quality work? I know I remember that first parkrun, and how bad I felt at the time and for the rest of the weekend. But I’m still running, because somehow despite the discomfort I knew it would be worth it. I’m just waiting to reach the other side with writing too.


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