Monday, May 7, 2012

Write Hard. No, Harder than that.

Yesterday, I ran my first 5k. I'd only been training for 7 weeks, but even up until yesterday morning, I was feeling strong and confident about the race. I knew I could run the distance (though not much beyond it), I was kinda familiar with the course, and I'd been hearing so much about the "crowd energy" from running as part of a group that I was sure my feet would fly and adrenaline would carry me through.

Holy crap was I wrong.

Writing (that's right--it's writing topic day!) can be just like that. You hear all the time about "the sagging middle" or other, maybe ruder terms to describe the middle chunk of the manuscript. The middle is hard because the elation of starting that new project has worn off, and even though you have a decent chunk of wordage behind you, there's still a long, long way to go before you write The End.

When you're a new writer, maybe even a writer who has never finished a novel before, you think: "if I can just make it through this part, then..." And once you finally do make it through that part, you feel like you'll never have that trouble again, because you overcame that obstacle. So maybe you make it easier on yourself. Maybe instead of taking the fork in the path that's a sheer climb littered with roots and rocks, you take the easy downhill slide to the finish.

Even if you've written 10, 20, 100 manuscripts, you can never get complacent. Maybe it won't be the middle--maybe it'll be character development. World-building. Concept freshness.

Every time you sit down to work on your novel, you need to approach it just as fresh as you did the first time. Just because you've done it before does not guarantee you can do it again. It assures you that you can do it again. That you are capable of doing it again. But you're not guaranteed success.

You are never guaranteed success.

So train hard. Always strive to be better. Study. Branch out. Don't just run the same path every time you train--that's a good way to get injured. And not all injuries can be recovered.

I'm going to write about my 5k experience on tomorrow's post about myself, but since I used running as a metaphor, here's a photo of me about one minute after I crossed the finish line. 


Old Kitty said...

Awww look at you!! I'm exhausted just looking at the pic! LOL!! Well done you!! Yay!!

Oh the sagging middle! LOL!! Just like my tummy! Needs hard work and effort - 10 minutes max real sweating, heart pumping every day! That's my writerly metaphor for myself! :-)

Take care

Christine Danek said...

Good for you, running a 5K. I've been thinking about doing one lately--in time. I will need lots of training.
Anyway, your points are so true, and the middle--ugh--not fun, but keep working and you will get there.

Linda G. said...

Great analogy! (Not that I'm going to go run 5k to prove it to myself. I'll just take your word for it.)

I like what Jim Butcher (Dresden Files author) term for that sinking midpoint: The Great Swampy Middle. *grin*

Stina said...

I don't find the middle hard to write. It's the first chapter that kills me every time. :P

Talli Roland said...

You're making me tired looking at you! :)

For me, it's mostly about battling through revisions. Sigh. That makes me tired!

Shain Brown said...

My problem is I enjoy the middle so much I tend to rush the end.

It looks like it was Florida hot for your run. I hope you recovered.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

If I could just get to the middle, I'm sure I could get to the end...I really mean it this time...

good job on the race! I volunteered at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati yesterday, which was way fun...and thank GOD I didn't have to experience THAT middle!

Unknown said...

Here, HERE!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, you finished, and that's better than I can do these days.