On your marks…get set…go write! (Part one)
“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.”
– Priscilla Welch
Now, this quote could apply to many things in life, but since this is a blog about writing, I think I’ll stick with that. I’m going to split this into three parts, part one being today’s post: preparing yourself. I hope you enjoy.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin
A runner has to psych himself up mentally before the race starts, and this is very similar for writers, whether they are doing their first big project or their twenty-second. Here are a few points that both runners and writers have to do before starting:
1.) Picture the race in your mind – a runner looks at the lane ahead of him and works out his strategy depending on the type of race: 100m, 1,000m, 10,000m. He does not look at the contenders next to him, but rather focuses on himself, what he can do. His personal best. And so writers must do the same. If it’s the writer’s first attempt at a major piece (novel, short story, a poem, etc.), then he must decide the ‘length’ of race he is running; a short-story writer is not going to plan and write in the same way as a novelist, or whatever else. The writer must work out what he is comfortable with, to do his personal best.
Think of the olympics. Many runners, swimmers, and high-jumpers entered fit, ready, and prepared to do their best. Some walked away medal-winners, but others simply went away with a big smile on their face – they may not have won any medals, but they ran, swam, or jumped a new personal best for themselves, and that’s more than anyone can ask for. A writer must do the same. He must not think of the other contenders in taht sense, but of himself. If he thinks of others, then he will depress himself and he will not be able to run as fast as he can. Do your best, not anyone else’s.
2) Let go of any fears – maybe you’re afraid of losing the race, that you won’t be able to make it. But let me tell you straight away – if you go in with that attitude, of course you won’t make it! I remember running outside during a P.E. lesson (not my greatest moment), the mud and the cold seeping slowly into my body until I thought I was going to freeze. However, I simply said to myself, ‘surely I’m not going to quit now; I’ll just try to get to that tree over there.’ Once I managed that, I would set another target for myself, then another. I didn’t think ‘Oh man I have like twenty minutes of running left and I won’t be able to make it and I’m gonna die of cold…’ because then I would’ve given up far earlier. If you begin the race with the right attitude, you may just find yourself at the finish line far sooner than you thought.
3.) Learn from everyone – when a runner wants to be the best, he tries to learn from the best. He trains with the best and eventually – with a bit of experience and good fortune – becomes the best. But he doesn’t just watch and learn from the best; he looks at the worst, the ways runners are not meant to run. He may also look at new ways of running, ways that are just as effective as his ways. Through researching all of this, he can become better, become the best he can be.
Writers must also do the same. Writers must read the best-sellers and the great books that didn’t quite make it to the top. They must learn how to craft a piece of writing, hone it until it is nigh on as perfect as it can be. But as with the runners, writers must also read terrible books – not to get jealous that they were published, but rather be thankful that it was not them who had written the tripe. They must take notes on how not to write a novel or a short story. Remember also that writers also need to read things that perhaps they don’t want to read; read new ways of writing like runners do with running. Maybe you’ll like the way they write and take many tips away with you, making your writing even better. Perhaps you only take one tip or maybe even none at all, but at least they now know that the style they have read is not for them.
Learn from the best, learn from the worst, learn from the different.
So that concludes part one; part two should be up next post unless I decide to post something else, which is unlikely. Please follow me if you liked the post, as you can get up-to-date stuff! 😉 Thanks.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
– Stephen King