how-I-write writing life

How I Write #1 – Running Inspiration

Now that I’ve sent Liberation’s Desire off to my copy editor, I’m all excited to get started on book 3, Liberation’s Vow. I’m at the idea stage, where I’ve got all these snippets of characters and plot, motivations and desires, that now all need to be molded into a complete story.

So I’m doing a lot of running.

Running (also known as “jogging” for anyone who runs faster than a 12-minute mile) clears my mind and lets me play with the characters, testing out different scenarios in my head and giving me the freedom to daydream without “committing” to any one idea, which often happens when I free-write. Once something is written down, it takes on cement. Maybe later I’ll blow it up during an editing phase, but I don’t often turn it on its head, switch characters, or introduce something crazy. Once its written, even just in pen in a notebook, I tend to stop playing with it.

I fell into running when I set a goal for myself to walk to and from work in order to lose the extra thirty pounds (!) I’d somehow put on since college. Some of those thirty pounds were collected when I had an hour plus commute each way to my workplace during the 2008 economic downturn. Listening to loud music and fantasizing about plot points saved me from traffic-induced road rage. When I got a job less than a mile from my apartment, that hour of driving turned into walking. Then we moved almost five miles from work. Once I got into the habit of walking home the longer distance, it occurred to me that I could get home faster if I moved faster. Duh, right? The first day, I jogged for less than a minute. The second day, less than five. By the end of the first week, I had gotten up to ten minutes, and by the end of the month, I could jog most of the way home.

Once you can jog for five miles, you feel awesome. I mean, you usually feel terrible (snotty and sore and like, “Why am I doing this again?”) but you can also casually tell people, “Oh yeah, I run. Last week I did a five-mile jog. No big deal or anything.” And you start to hate running less, the same way that you start hating traffic less, because the landmarks are familiar enough to let you zone and still get you where you need to be.

I started entering races to keep up my motivation when the weather turned. Having a goal to work towards (like, “Don’t embarrass myself by walking through the 15k *run* next month”) pushed me out of the warm, dry, comfy house on a wet, miserable, frigid January. It also usually loosed whatever stuck plot point was rattling around in my head. Now, when I can’t figure my way out of a writing problem, I try to exercise. The solution’s either going to come to me while I’m running or while I’m turning in for a well-earned sleep.