Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I run because I am a writer....

I have no problem throwing on my shoes, shirt, and shorts to log a few miles. Running is like breathing. It's rarely an act that requires much thought.

In stark contrast, there is the act of 'writing'. Confronted with the blank page, I have to stifle anxiety attacks. I have to ignore the voices that tell me whatever I put down is going to be terrible.

Once I get started, I can usually swing something decent, something palatable, and occasionally something stellar. But, rarely is writing as easy as running. There are fits and starts, editing, and uncomfortable silences as I struggle to find eloquent ways to convey my message.

I know I'm not alone in this regard. Acclaimed and prolific writer Haruki Murakami penned a book called 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' a few years ago that has always struck a chord for me.

Murakami does a brilliant job of talking about how the act of running intersects with his writing and vice versa. The mental discipline and courage it takes to be a long distance runner is not dissimilar from what is required to be a writer.

Not every run is going to be stellar. Just as every word or sentence you choose as a writer won't be revelatory. But, continuing to show up and do the work is the only way to move forward. 

Murakami doesn't characterize himself as a natural runner or novelist, but he has become proficient at both to a large extent because he has worked hard, pushed through the pain, and stayed consistent.

On those days when I find myself particularly challenged to get anything out on the page, it is my experiences as a runner that enable me to get anything done. The times I've shown up and got the job done despite a multitude of challenges is innumerable.

I've been drenched by deluges of rain and hail. I've been stricken lightheaded by oppressive heat and humidity. I've battled through miles on little more than fumes. I've soldiered on despite deafening voices of doubt.

So, when the blank page stares me down unsympathetically, I remind myself that I am not just a writer, I am a runner too. Talented or not, my accomplishments have been largely a result of showing up time and time again.

Such will be the case for my writing as well. I'll keep showing up and sullying the blank page every day until something good comes of it. If you keep fighting, eventually good things will happen. I run because I am a writer.

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