Monday, November 18, 2013

Running Marathons and Writing Marathons


It is with pleasure that WNI shares the posts of guest blogger Angela White from southern California. She earned an undergraduate degree in literature, a law degree, is a marathoner, triathlete and the writer of two blogs. Her first blog on breast feeding ran for several years and her current blog,, is about her training, nutrition and participation in marathons and triathlons. She is also the car-bound mother of my three wonderful, active granddaughters. Yes, she is my daughter and I am busting-my-buttons proud of her for all she does so well. I have always admired her and her skill at writing (far better than mine). In late October, she announced that she was going to participate in NaNoWriMo by writing a 50,000 word novel in one month (November), in addition to training for a 5K race and another marathon (26.2 miles), volunteering at school, driving children on different schedules to school and to numerous extracurricular activities, reading fifty books in twelve months, and participating in children+parent and 'tweens+parent book clubs...a schedule that would make me blanch.  Below is the first of three posts of analogies between marathons and writing from Angela's blog,

I do love to talk running (and racing and biking and swimming and spinning and kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding and now Jillian Michaels DVD’ing), but in this down time after my third full marathon, I have another kind of marathon in mind: a writing marathon!
Yes, I plan to spend the month of November attempting to write 50,000 words of a novel. I have always wanted to write a novel. Well, to be perfectly honest, I have always wanted to have written a novel. The actual writing work scares the heck out of me. But while the daunting task of writing an average of 1,667 words per day intimidates me, I will not let that stop me.
Thankfully, marathon training has taught me a lot that can be applied to writing a novel:
1. Setting concrete, measurable goals along the way to your main goal can keep you motivated.
2. If you want to grow as a person, do one thing a day that scares you. It’s okay. You might make mistakes, but you’ll learn along the way.
3. There is nothing more satisfying than completing an intimidating task.
4. You must put in the time and effort if you want to see results.
5. The goal for your first (writing) marathon is simply to finish. You cannot expect to “knock it out of the park” on the first try. [Do you see what a stellar writer I am, that I can so ridiculously mix running, writing and baseball metaphors? I consider it part of my freewriting training -- just write, just put words on paper, and save the editing and fine tuning for later!]
Now, you might recall that, in spite of being a very logical lawyer, I still delight in seeing “signs” and good omens before a big race. Right after I wrote that list above, I looked up to see this:
rainbow over the palms
While I don’t really believe it rained in Southern California and then had the sun come out at just the right time for me to see a sign, I do think that seeing that rainbow made a nice little reward for my taking the time to write about my big goal while my daughter played happily at the park.
Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month?(I’ve survived a few rounds of National Blog Posting Month but never attempted NaNoWriMo.) What kinds of challenges do you like to take on in the down time for your training?


Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Thanks, Angela! Very inspiring post for those of us running "marathons" of all descriptions. I especially like your point about the limit-stretching value of doing one scary thing a day. Completing NaNoWriMo one year produced the nucleus of what is now a finished novel, making the rounds of publishers. I participate nearly every year, and though I don't usually make it to the full 50K, I always make progress, pushing past my natural tendency to rewrite the first few paragraph over and over, gears grinding. :)

Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

Thank you for gracing WritingNorthIdaho with your inspiring presence. Looking back on the busy years at home raising my two children, I felt accomplished if I could get us all out the door in clean clothes. Your life is an inspiration. I look forward to reading more posts from you in the future.

Ana said...

Good ideas, Angela. I had never thought of novel writing as a marathon but I can sure see it now that I am getting very close to the finish line. Although I am writing non-fiction, it seems like that last half mile is the toughest. I'd like to "throw in the towel" as the saying goes and just lay my head down on some soft green grass beside the track.

Kathy Cooney Dobbs said...

Wonderful blog, Angela! Your words inspire and motivate writers, and runners to persevere to the end of the race :) Thank you