Is there a word for someone who voluntarily does uncomfortable stuff? Masochistic is way too strong of a word, but there has to be some obscure, specific term for us fools who enjoy running. Anyway, my sister and I voluntarily run half marathons, and we’re working our way through every state. This weekend and next, we’ll have checked off two more: Montana and Wyoming.
For the last month, I’ve been battling a pretty heavy writing slump. Writing is a difficult industry—with its subjectivity, it’s nearly impossible to gauge where you are. You can write a fantastic book, but if you don’t have luck and timing on your side, it’s tough to break in.
Whereas running…running is the opposite. It is objectivity at its finest. You can run for time, for distance, for completion. If you want to get faster, you can train. You can run or walk, you can sprint or take your time, and you’ll earn a medal at the end. Something that says I am objectively this amount of good at this thing.
I guess it all comes down to knowing how to set goals. For running, it’s easy. I’m going to slug my way through 655 miles (not including training) and I’ll have fifty sweet medals to show for it. For me, success is just completing a long race in each state. My sub 2 hour days are far, far behind me.
When it comes to writing for me, success is a little murky. I’d love my book on the shelves one day, but I’m realizing that’s a wonderful dream, but not a great goal. A goal needs to be something that doesn’t involve outside factors. A goal is within your control, otherwise it’s a dream. A goal could be sitting down and writing 500 words per day. Instead of setting a goal like “I want an agent within 10 months”, a realistic goal could be to send out 10 queries a month. Sending out queries is well within our control, whereas an agent falling in love with a manuscript is not.
So, I think this week, I’m going to concentrate on not dying on a hiking trail in Wyoming and then dive into revising my next project, which is fresh from the critique partners. You know, 13 miles is a long time to think about how to tinker with the beginnings and character arcs…