Meg Mitchell Moore: On Running and Writing

Running and writing are two things I’ve been doing for a long time, and I think a lot of parallels exist between the two. When I wrote a guest post on the topic recently for The Divining Wand I realized that the first few comparisons I came up with cast the two pursuits in a rather unforgiving light. Both writing and running require enormous amounts of discipline. Both are solitary pursuits—you may run with a partner or show your writing to a critique group or a trusted agent or editor, but when you’re in the middle of a long, hard slog at the desk or on the road there’s nobody else who can do the work for you. Both often feel better when complete than during the act itself. Both are painful when done to the best of one’s abilities.

Does either running or writing have to hurt? Well, I guess I don’t know if it’s that way for everyone.  I can speak only from my own experience. But there are times when they both hurt for me. I started running competitively during my junior year abroad in college; I was late to the game, not having run in junior high or high school, and I didn’t really know how to race. An older, wiser, more experienced runner told me, “You can almost always go faster. It’s just a matter of how much pain you are willing to be in.” I filed that nugget away and I trot it out occasionally.

I’m probably making myself sound like a more competitive runner than I am these days. I don’t race nearly as often now as I used to, and I don’t train as hard or as consistently. But I still believe in the parallels between running and writing. After I listed the other similarities for this earlier post I wrote that both running and writing produce a sort of a “high” on a good day. To me the satisfaction of nailing a sentence, even a word, or of untangling a tricky plot twist, is similar to the feeling of hanging tough during a difficult race or battling demons to the ground during a long run. Those things don’t happen during every writing day; they don’t happen during every run. But knowing they will happen some time is a good enough reason to keep on going.—Meg Mitchell Moore

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