Miles vs. Words

P1050533I love to complete half marathons and I love to write books. I don’t love the day to day training I have to do to complete half marathons and I don’t always love the day to day typing I have to do write books. To get myself to do the training for half marathons I print out running schedules and try to run as far as the chart says to on a certain day. However, I never use charts from writing books that tell what to write on a certain day. Why not? Why does one chart excite me and the other annoy me?

I think it has to do with the type of chart I like. I don’t like running charts that give me extreme detail about not just how far to run but how to run. I know I would be faster if I did more hill repeats or fartleks but since I am a run/walker and live at almost sea level those charts are hard for me to follow. I like the charts that say do X number of miles on a certain day. I enjoy getting out and doing my own thing for as long as the chart says I should. And that is why I don’t follow writing charts. They have too much detail.

Most of the books I have read that have writing charts tell you to work on setting one day and character on another. Since I am a diehard discovery writer (despite trying to change) I may not want to work on setting or character on that day. Instead I would like a chart that says “write X number of words on this day.” Each day of the week would have a variety of word counts, some longer and some shorter. I could write whatever I wanted to but I’d write as much as I was told to do.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”  ― John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running    

Now, it could be said that I might write more if I didn’t have the chart telling me when I should stop. While that is true, if I don’t write at all because I’m not following a chart then I was better off following the chart. I see now that the solution is easy. Turn my running chart into a writing chart. The easiest way would be to make each mile equal one thousand words. Tomorrow it says I should run three miles so I will write three thousand words. I can do that in about one hour so that works for me. My longest runs are on the weekend and that would be my longest word count. Ten thousand words might be too much but I could adjust as needed. It might be more fun to see if I could do it. I like a good challenge. Now it looks like I have one not just for running, but for writing, too.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”  ― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen