Two weeks ago, I ran my first marathon (that’s 26.2 miles, baby!), but I’ve gotta say, for all the two-hour training runs, IT band injuries, and sweat I put into preparing for the marathon, it’s still not as hard as writing a novel.
Two months ago, I finished the first draft of my Steampunk YA novel. Writing that was a lot like training for a marathon–I wrote even when I didn’t want to, I carved out specific days to get a good write in, and I varied my workout (sometimes I worked on character backstories, sometimes I read other similar works to inform my own, and sometimes I actually wrote the novel itself).
Perhaps the key difference between running a marathon and writing a novel is simply: who the hell knows how long your novel’s “race” will be? 26.2 is a darn long distance, but at least it’s a distance I know and can measure. My novel? God help me if I know how long that journey is going to be. But, hey, isn’t that part of the fun?
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. And work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen-hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I got to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; its a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long – six months to a year – requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”- Murakami