Andy Jones-Wilkins, Paul Terranova, Meg LeFauve, Lorien McKenna, Nick Fuller Googins, my Uncle John
"So many of the good things that come out of completing a race or a book are a direct result of the difficulty overcome." Such an encouraging reminder.
One of the more unpleasant moments in my writing journey was when I wrote an excruciatingly personal short story, showed it to a friend, and discovered that I'd effectively communicated about 10% of what I was going for. I was deep into the "rethinking all my life choices" spiral when I remembered: I wrote this story because I have never read anything like it. I have never seen that personal experience put down in words before. Of course I struggled to communicate something I have zero models for. And I actually got 10% of the way there!
So I continue trudging along with this story, because now I'm confident that its difficulty is directly correlated with its potential for power and beauty.
Great post, Matt! I often tell people that writing a novel is like training for and running a marathon, but since many people haven't done that either, that analogy seems daunting to them, too. But you get it (about comparing running and writing) and your explanation is way more eloquent than mine, so thank you for your post. I've trained for and run a half-marathon before. It seemed impossible before I started and was quite the accomplishment when I completed it. My tenth book is out on submission and that seemed impossible, too, at one point. :)
Having a foot injury precludes running, although in the last five or six years I have noticed that when I am exercising I am more attentive, have better patience, and generally write far better than when not exercising. Finding time to work out is still rather difficult, but I encourage anyone in a creative field, who might not get out and about as much as in other occupations, to attempt at least some physical activity.
There's a whole "no cost workout" that was developed years ago, much of it still holding true, so if there are financial barriers - say, for a gym membership - then this isn't an issue if the right workout is chosen. An additional spur to get people moving is the fact that even moderate exercise can lead to a longer life, so there's (theoretically) more time for writing in the long run (pun intended).
Sometimes what a person needs isn't a marathon, but a long, gentle stroll. If there is a forest nearby, then I suggest a day just spent walking. No pressure on yourself, no goals in mind, just taking in the scenery, letting your mind wander, and letting the gremlins in your subconscious do their thing. Very effective, healthy, eco-friendly, and free.
I'm not a runner, but BOY did this post speak to me! All of that mindset advice is spot on, and is framed in exactly the right way to help me with my frequent habit of getting in my own way. Thank you for all this wisdom and insight.
Thank you for this post.
I'm finding it extra hard to focus on the long-term right now, because a few hundred words a day doesn't seem like enough... so thank you for the encouragement right when I need it.
Thanks, Matt, I needed this. . . just in time for Imogene!