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I am an author (or will be)

September 27, 2012

This morning, as I write this, I am in upstate New York. It’s a very pleasant day–sunny with an expected high in the low 70s. It was 56 this morning when I went for a run. I ran ten miles–but it wasn’t ten wimpy, just-keep-moving-forward miles. I ran ten strong miles, with a steady aggressive pace throughout. And while it was cooler than it is in Florida–and that helped–there are also hills to deal with. A couple of them are fairly substantial.

As I ran maybe mile seven or eight, I looked down at my feet, knifing forward into my field of vision, then retreating just as quickly. And I thought, “I am a runner.”

I am not Usain Bolt.

Don’t get me wrong. I have more in common with a guy on a Hooveround wheel chair than I do with Usain Bolt. But I can run ten miles at a good pace when the weather’s right. I can run ten miles on consecutive Saturdays. So I feel comfortable saying that I am a runner.

I don’t have the same level of comfort saying that I am a writer–not yet. But the path to being a writer and a runner are very similar:

  • I work out almost every day. Sometimes I get up at an ungodly early hour to make sure the workout fits in with my schedule. I make time for it because it’s important.
  • I find workouts that challenge me and make me better.
  • I spend time researching and money purchasing things that will advance me.
  • On days when I don’t work out, it’s by conscious decision, and it’s typically to rest my body a little bit.
  • I surround myself with other people who work out and embrace the lifestyle to which I aspire.
  • I work out with these people once a week.
  • I have accomplished things as a result of my hard work–most important, so far, is my Tough Mudder t-shirt.

Maybe the reason I don’t feel the same confidence saying I’m a writer is because I don’t do all the things for writing that I do for working out. But the steps are remarkably similar. Write every day–and do extreme things to make sure the writing fits in. Write material that challenges and improves you; don’t accept what you could do last year. If you don’t write, make a conscious decision not to write–and have a reason for the day off. Spend your resources on the craft.

Be around others who find writing worthwhile and important–the value of community cannot be overstated. Write with or around others.

And keep track of your accomplishments. Note them and give them the value they deserve.

Running ten miles is the real thing. It’s not playing. It’s hard and valuable. Finishing a salable novel is also the real thing. It’s not playing. It’s hard and valuable.

Saying I am and filling in the blank is an important step in declaring what’s important.

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