Monday, April 23, 2012

Writers Are Marathoners of a Different Sort

Becoming an author is a bit like training for a marathon; not that I’ve run any marathons, unless dancing counts. The two do have a many aspects in common, including a finish line.

Runners make friends with other runners, participate in the same events during the year, train in similar methods to up their running game, and count themselves lucky. Along the way, they find a kind of happiness they find nowhere else. They are only themselves out on the track; no other roles need apply.

Writers do the same thing. We congregate on forums with other writers, discuss projects, problems and needs. The road to authorship is strewn with obstacles, just as runners’ abilities to tackle longer venues encounter injuries and setbacks, weather and personal needs. Writers train every day, if they want to be authors; coursework, submissions and rejections, social media platforms, and other obstacles that build and keep their writing abilities toned.

Within the framework of these career labels, stand three words that signify the relationship between these two careers; preparation, goals, and execution. If goals aren’t set by either the runner or writer, no progress is made. If proper preparation isn’t made, goal execution cannot move forward. Execution marshals the preparations necessary for each goal and advances the career onto the field.

Success on the field depends on one’s objective. A new marathoner might only desire to finish the race. For her, that spells success. For the veteran of the track, the triathlon is the goal each year, with faster times as a signal of improvement and success. For a new writer, the primary objective may be as simple as finishing a long piece of fiction and getting it to a polished state. Or, the objective for the established writer might be the development of a series that could get her a three-book deal.

Two tracks, two careers, similarities in each. As each type of marathoner ages in her career goals change, preparations come easier, and execution becomes a matter of habit. Over the length of the track there is time for the participant to think, evaluate, and decide about the next race, the next field. Nothing a consequence is firmed up at the starting line. Only the experience of the race can grant perspective.


During this month those who signed on for Robert LeeBrewer’s Author Platform Challenge stood at the starting line of a great field event. He promised to instruct all of us in what it takes to create a successful Author’s Platform. So far, he’s kept his promise.

We’ve learned about apps needed for everything from Time Management to Social Network updating. We’ve learned how to catch the eyes of those search engines everywhere and what to do in our blogs and on websites to increase traffic and comment numbers. Through it all, members of the field are cajoling each other, giving encouragement, and offering help to those still struggling with tech, time, and temperament.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Robert. He’s gone out of his way to see that we can stand on our own once we’re through this. But, more than that, he’s built a writing community that allows us to talk amongst ourselves. He’s put together a support structure that many will be using for a long time to come.

Thank you, Robert, for having patience with all of us and our questions and insecurities. You’re doing great!

Until later,



  1. Claudsy: I love the analogy between writing and running... As walker/runner/jogger, I remember doing my first half marathon. I was keeping pace with a certain group of people and the camaraderie was flowing but as the elements kicked in and the distance appeared longer, we turned inwards and each focused on pulling every last bit of will power to finish..... When we had found the switch and turned it own, we were able to focus on the outside world again, supporting/encouraging and in one case dragging others to the end.

    Similarly in writing, we may talk shop, motivate and encourage each other in a communal/collegiate fashion; yet the act of writing itself, one is called to turn inwards and liberate that which lies within. At least that is the case for me, when I write, the world falls away and snaps back into view when I am done.

    I am also grateful for the April Platform Challenge as constructed by Robert Lee Brewer and for Robert himself for freely sharing the tricks of the trade and getting us connected to one another.

  2. Glad to know that I'm not alone in my assessment, Meena. And glad, also, to have your view from both sides. Thanks so much for the insight and affirmation of the personal workings of both writer and runner.

  3. Well, now I know what my problem is...I don't exercise enough. Hi Claudette, it's just me Jack. And my biggest problem when writing not having you as my editor...:)

  4. For me the 26 letters of our Alphabet, just ain't keeps me from saying anything really intelligent...:)

  5. Jack, where have you been? You haven't sent me anything to edit in forever. As for exercise, it starts with one small thing called a sentence. Don't worry about the letters. Sometimes the most intelligence thing to say is nothing at all. Of course, that doesn't necessarily apply to writing.

    When are you going to send me the first chapter of your novel? It's way past deadline, you know. Talk to you soon.

  6. And yet here again I've failed the test of deadline. Oh worrisome...where is that clock, down the damned rabbit hole I'll wager.

  7. Or planted in the garden, hoping to replicate a scene long forgotten, perhaps.