I went for another long run this morning. Just like last week’s long run, I looked off into the distance and couldn’t believe that I would make it. I did. I ran my eight and a half miles. On the way though I spent a lot of time thinking about writing. Last night I had a few friends over to talk about NaNoWriMo, and as I ran I couldn’t help but wonder what running could teach me about writing.
It was writing that taught me a lesson in ‘impossible’ goals. I completed NaNoWriMo last year with almost no long-form writing experience, but I rose to the challenge and pulled it off. I’ve taken that lesson back to running too. I set out on a run that is farther than I’ve ever gone before with the knowledge that I might have to walk, but I will finish. Then I keep working at it, I walk less and less, until one day when I run that ‘impossible’ distance.
On Friday I am going to start writing a novel. I’m not as prepared as I would like to be. I have a lot of uncertainty, but running has shown me that much of my fear comes from trying to look at the big picture. As long as I keep moving, I will get to my goal. I haven’t done much of my outlining. I’ll try and do as much as I can this week, but I won’t be done in time.
I’ve tried writing without an outline or preparation (pantsing), but it doesn’t work well for me. It would be a little like running without having a route in mind. The plan is to write in the mornings til I reach my daily goal. Then, in the afternoon, I will outline. This may not be how I wanted to do it, but it works. It also means that I might be able to write again in the evenings, when my wife is writing.
Two of my writer friends that were over last night are dubious of their ability to crank out the daily word count that NaNoWriMo requires. They both want to be carpenters, who measure and fit and make everything perfect from the start. I’m trying to look at my writing as running, with each pass as a new run on the same route. The first time out will be slow and I will walk when I can’t run (or think that I can’t run). Each pass through the manuscript is another run, getting stronger, learning from the the previous.
I don’t expect my NaNoWriMo manuscript to be anything other than a raw draft, but I do plan to finish it. A finished draft can be polished til it shines, but those unfinished drafts don’t go anywhere. I have a couple manuscripts that I’ve written thanks to NaNoWriMo. I haven’t published anything, but I will. It is only a matter of time. Just like running, I have to pace myself and get stronger on my way to the next unreasonable goal.