Writing is like Running is like Writing

For the first time in my life I’m getting serious about exercise. I’m not athletically gifted, and other than baseball or the occasional hockey game, I’m not really into even watching sports (much less playing them). I’ve always been interested in music, reading, writing, and other non-athletic activities.

However, as my thirtieth birthday approaches I’ve been thinking about how I want the next decade of my life to be different from the last. One of those differences will be exercise. I’ve committed to make it a regular part of my life. Specifically, I’ve promised myself that I’ll “fall in love” with running.

And so I’ve been running lately. While I plod along I’ve been thinking through a number of different topics. One of them, as you can guess, has been writing. I’ve seen some similarities in my newfound “love” for running and my (perhaps more natural love) of writing. Here they are:

  • Writing a book and being a runner are both unfilled dreams for a huge number of people. They are the type of thing you always say you’ll do, and then never do. (I don’t want that.)
  • Writing every day takes commitment. You have to rearrange your schedule. You have to prioritize it. You have to  get your family on board with it if you want to do it regularly. You often have to pack it in after family time at night, or before family and work time in the morning. Running is the exact same way.
  • The more you write, the better you write, and the more interested you are to write. The more I run, the better I am at running, and the more interested I am to do it again.
  • Writing isn’t all fun, it’s a lot of work too. Running isn’t all work, it’s (hopefully going to be) a lot of fun too.
  • Writing stretches muscles I didn’t know I had. Running stretches muscles I didn’t know I had. (I’m feeling the strain right now.)
  • Writing results don’t happen immediately. You have to work at honing your craft and seeking publication. It’s often a long process. Running is a process. You don’t necessarily see result immediately. Very few people can lose weight rapidly, and very few people can run a marathon (or even a 5K) without a considerable amount of practice.
  • Sometimes writing requires some stretches and warm-ups (i.e. reading, trying to write something new, writing something outside of your norm, etc.). Running always requires stretching and warming up.

This is not me. I don’t look a thing like this guy, but I bet he’s never written a book. (Image found at Wiki commons)

As with any metaphor, this eventually breaks down…

  • If you tell people you go running every day they will be impressed. If you tell people that your write every day they’ll assume you’re unemployed and probably hungry.
  • Running regularly requires quality shoes or you’ll mess up your joints. Writing regularly does not require a specific kind of shoe. (I assume that most of us go sock-footed for slipper-ed anyway…)
  • Running regularly requires a path outside, a track inside, or some sort of machine (for when the weather is cold). Writing doesn’t need any of these and most writers I know wouldn’t set their foot on a track unless the local library was holding a fundraiser there.
  • Running a lot will likely alter your physical appearance in awesome ways. Writing a lot will not likely affect your appearance at all. If it does, it’s more likely to be less than awesome. (I.e. writer’s gut, coke bottle glasses, white scan due to lack of exposure to the outside world.)

Do you exercise regularly? Can you think of other ways this metaphor either holds up or breaks down? Leave your thoughts below.

Until next time, keep on writing and make sure you’re wearing the right shoes.


4 thoughts on “Writing is like Running is like Writing

  1. Jessie Clemence

    I write in socks, because I write at the kitchen table. And no matter how many times I sweep under there, the kids’ Cheerios get stuck to my feet. The socks are anti-Cheerio protection.

    1. Andrew Rogers Post author

      I’m right there with you, Jessie. At our house it’s not so much Cheerios that are the problem, but rather yogurt drops that we didn’t see fall, which then dry into sticky spots on our wood floor.


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