5K Editing: Before the Starting Line

This year (since the last 5K) has been filled with agent hunting, rejection letters, networking (I’ve connected with several amazing authors!) editing, editing, and EDITING–with the exception of November when I wrote 66,000 words for NaNoWriMo. I’ve learned and incorporated several techniques that have greatly improved my writing. I love learning. Love the editing process. Yes, there were days when I wanted to quit, but I kept in mind that all the editing was just taking my WIP from good to GREAT!

I’m going to break up this 5K series a little differently:

Before the Starting Line

Mile 1 to Mile 1.5 (with water break)

Mile 1.5 to 3

Bonus: .1 Miles

Crossing the Finish Line & Beyond


It’s your second 5K. You quickly fill out the paperwork  and send it in. You decide you should actually train more for this one. You get a running buddy who tells you she wants to run in the 5K with you!

The day of the race arrives. You’re excited. You’ve been here before. You know what to expect. You know you can do this…after all you did survive last year! You think about last year’s race, reliving the agony and the feelings of accomplishment. You gear up. Sneakers: Check. Running Uniform: Check. Several water bottles: Check. Check. One Running Buddy: Check…Oh, surprise, her brother wants to run too! You all pile in your van, chatting excitedly, and drive to the race. This is going to be great!

You set goals again:

     1. Don’t be last.

     2. Don’t die, get injured or throw up.

     3. Run more than you did last year.

     4. Beat your time from last year!!

You can’t wait to get started! But . . . It’s taking forever. The race was supposed to start at nine, but it’s already way past that. The megaphone guy hasn’t told you to go to the starting line. WAITING . . ..

WAITING . . . .


While you wait, you drink water (which cause you to visit the Port-a-Potty 5 times). You talk a lot because you’re nervous and just want to get going. You join your running group for picture time–Which you confidently and happily walk over and pose for. You’re a real runner, of course you should get your picture taken!

(Can you find me? 🙂 )

And then . . . YEAH! The megaphone guy finally woke up. “All runners to the starting line. Race starts in 5 minutes!”


Your novel is done! You go back through it with a purple pen and a highlighter. You know your novel–you’ve been here before. It’s fun to relive the story and laugh at lines you totally forgot about. But as you read, you realize you should probably hire an editor to give you “fresh eyes.”

CUTTING IN HERE: I’m sooooo blessed to have 2 amazing editors! LaJoie and my dad…I know what you’re thinking. “Your dad won’t be tough on you! He’ll think every word you wrote is wonderful!” Well, my dad is tough, and I so appreciate it. (My dad is a very talented writer!) He told me that he was scared to read BOUND because he didn’t want to have to tell me to take up knitting. But then he did read it….and was surprised at how much he LOVED it!! It was an interesting journey. Dad read BOUND out loud to me. To hear him read from the POV of a 17-year-old girl: Priceless (And super embarrassing at times…especially the kissing scenes! *BLUSHES) BONUS: having a guy’s perspective on male dialogue is awesome! All my guys sound like guys, thanks to my dad!

You search for the perfect editor. You find one and send her your novel. You start to get nervous. What if she hates it? Days go by . . .




While you wait for her response to your words and answer: You write up a query letter and a proposal and then edit those several times. You read and write. You send out letters to agents…You get rejection letters. You get your professional author photos taken. Because you are a REAL author! (Have to be prepared for when you make it!)

And then . . . The editor sends you a note. She read your whole novel and loves it! She can’t stop thinking about it, even days later. The best news, she agrees to become your editor!



5K Novel: After You Cross

You’ve crossed the finished line. You feel elated! You’ve accomplished something that scared you to death to do. You feel high on the excitement of it all. You don’t want to leave, but you know you must go home at some point.

You’re novel is done. You’ve pressed send. It is now in an agents or editors hands. You want to take a vacation from writing, do nothing, but you know that you have the next project to work on.

And now…you wait.

They won’t post your time until later tonight…

The agent said she’d get back to you in six weeks…

And then…you wait some more.

There’s a whole year until the next 5K…

The agent said you needed to have it edited some more…

You edit, extensively, and send it back…

Guess what…you wait some more…

I’ve given myself the title “Professional Waiter.” Writing is a waiting game. But if I’ve learned anything in this process, it’s that WAITING is an ACTION word. What can you do while you wait? How can you prepare for what’s next?

For 5K, running is the best action. Conditioning your lungs and muscles (starting 2 weeks before the 5K doesn’t really do it justice…) And you now have a record! You’re so gonna beat it next year!

For your writing, well, WRITE. Start the whole process again (1st mile…to Finish Line). Don’t be idle while you wait. Hone your craft. Read more books on editing. Send out articles to magazines. Write a story for your kids. Or a poem for your BFF. Just WRITE!

The process of writing is never-ending. But it’s sure worth it, even on those days when you want to chuck your notebook/laptop out a window and curl up–never touching another pen/computer key again!

And remember your battle cry: You’ve Got This!

5K Novel: Mile Two

Mile Two…Or as I like to call it “The Pity-Party Mile.”

Lungs are heated. Breathing is more of a gasping. Legs are shaking, but your goal was to run until the halfway marker. You’re almost there. You’re almost done! At least that’s what the boys, ringing cowbells, told you. “You’re almost done!” they yell as they run by in the opposite direction, not a drip of sweat on their faces.


You haven’t reached the halfway point yet! How can you be almost done with the 5K?

Someone calls your name. It’s your running partner. Your heart gives a twitch. She’s headed the other way, already having made it to the halfway point. She’s happily on her way to the mile 2 marker.

“Yeah you!” she calls as she passes.

You force a smile, thankful that you didn’t just give in and walk. “I haven’t stopped running yet!”

Your perseverance pays off. You can see the halfway point. And look, lovely ladies holding out glasses of ice cold water. Okay, you deserve to walk for a bit. You walk as you drink, but as soon as the water is gone, you start running again. You’ve been revived!

As you round the next bend, a hill appears. (And a guy on a bicycle tells you you’re doing great—and you seriously want to push him over, steal his bike…). Your lower back hurts at the thought of running up hill, but you can’t stop now. You’ve been “training” for this. Your course at home took you up lots of hills. You resist the urge to walk, I mean, the downhill is coming up! You conquer the hill, and fly down the other side, gaining another burst of energy.

Wait? What is that? YUM! Coffee! Chicken! And look, vendors selling sparkly and fluffy things…

You stop running. Thoughts hit you. You feel like crying. You feel so alone. You feel angry that you were talked into this . . .

“I hate running!”

“Why did I agree to do this?”

“I can’t do this! This is way too hard.”

“No one would blame me if I stopped running, curled into a ball, took a nap…”

Then a smiling woman catches your eye. “You’re doing amazing! The two mile marker is less than a minute away. Don’t give up! You got this!”

As tears build, you start running again. You feel like you’re hardly moving, but you press on… You smile when the Mile 2 marker appears. Nothing has ever looked better. You feel victorious. You resisted temptation. You didn’t give up.


The ideas are slowing. Your “bouncer” is on vacation or working on her novel. Some non-writer friends are on their way to lunch and to Wal-Mart. Their lives seem so easy compared to yours. They don’t know how you suffer. What’s it like to be “normal?”

You see that halfway point, and a fresh wave of ideas hits you.

But then…What’s that? Coffee! Nap time! Pinterest—you just HAVE to find a picture of your character. SHERLOCK!!

Roadblocks appear. And then the pity-party commences. No one would blame you if you gave up. It’d be easier than beating your head against your desk. You’ve been neglecting housework and family to write. Guilt . . .

“Why did I ever want to be a writer?”

“This is too hard!”

“No one cares.”

“I can’t write!”

Just when you’re about to throw your computer out a window, you get a note from someone you’ve never met. They tell you that you have a way with words. And that they love your writing. That they are on the edge of their seat and can’t wait to read more! Then another friend sends you an email DEMANDING you send them more of your WIP (work in progress)—they’re about to die and can’t think of ANYTHING ELSE but what happens next!

Your mentor sends you a reminder:

You wipe your eyes, turn on your computer, and type. Turning that pity-party into a thankful fest.

It hits you as you type: Your novel is more than halfway done! You ran over all those roadblocks with your army truck. You resisted curling up with all those distractions. You closed the door on the pity-party.

You resisted! You’re victorious! You got this!

**The last mile is fast approaching, and then the finish line…stay tuned!

Starting Line: https://janelleleonard.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/5k-novel-the-starting-line/

Mile One: https://janelleleonard.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/5k-novel-mile-one/

5K Novel: The Starting Line

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.


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!