I ran my first 5K yesterday. It was quite the “research to the extreme” experience. Not sure where I’ll use it, but at least the hard part is over. While I was lying in bed last night—feeling the ache creeping over every muscle in my body—it hit me. Writing a novel is a lot like running a 5K.
Only those who press on cross the finish line–both in a 5K and in novel writing.
THE STARTING LINE
It’s your first 5K. You’ve got on your sneakers, workout capris, and a sweet new running shirt. (It’s teal and made of a material you’ve never worn before.) You’ve painted your nails a sparkly purple, and added a flower hair clip to your hair–you have to look cute. Mission accomplished. You tell yourself you’re now a runner!
You’re not totally sure where to go or what to do. Then a guy with a megaphone tells you to get to the starting line area. Nerves arrive. You want to back out, but it’s too late. You follow (walking at this point) the crowd of runners. You stretch, chatting with your running partner to distract you. When is the gun going to sound? It seems to take forever. You just want to get started—to see if you can actually do this, run 3.1 miles without dying.
You set goals for yourself:
1. Don’t be the last runner to cross the finish line.
2. Don’t pass out or throw up.
3. Don’t fall over and sprain your ankle.
4. Run without stopping for as long as possible.
It’s official. You can do this! And . . . You’re off and running.
You’ve decided you want to write a novel. You’ve set up a writing area, bought new Sharpie pens, and a notebook. You find awesome writing quotes—print them off and hang them in your writing space. You take the best quote and put it on a T-shirt. (“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” –E. L. Doctorow) Mission accomplished. You tell yourself that you’re now a writer.
So…What will your novel be about? You don’t know yet, but it’s gonna be the best idea EVER. You can’t wait to get started–to see if you can actually write 80,000 publishable words. You read books in your genre and tons of non-fiction books on writing, honing your craft. You watch movies, drink coffee, and hang out with friends.
You set goals for yourself:
1. Write something every day, even if it’s stupid.
2. Get up early for peace-and-quiet thinking time. (Don’t fall asleep!)
3. Spend time networking. Encouraging and meeting other writers, helping them with their ideas.
4. Carry a notebook with you at all times. Listen to conversations. Observe EVERYTHING.
All this preparation is stage setting—hoping/begging/praying that SOMETHING or SOMEONE will spark that killer idea. You feel it. It’s close . . .
It’s the middle of the night. An idea has arrived, come to you in a dream. You jump out of bed eager to get it down before you forget. This idea has bestseller written all over it–for sure and certain.
It’s official. It’s gonna be great, easy, fun. And . . . You’re off and writing!
**STAY TUNED! The race has just begun. Part 2: 5K Novel: Mile One…Coming soon to The Writing Life!