What jogging can teach you about a writing habit

If you’ve decided to get in shape by jogging, you’ll only succeed if you run regularly, almost every day. Doing so allows your muscles to continue growing while increasing your ability to run farther. Writers can learn a valuable lesson from this – they also ought to write regularly, in fact, almost every day.

Writing, after all, is very much like jogging.

Both require great patience to achieve success. If your goal is run 300 miles a year, you won’t do it all in one day or even a long weekend. Similarly, if your goal is to write 300 pages a year, you’ll need a concerted effort over a lengthy period of time to accomplish this. Repetition spaced out over time ensures you reach your goal sooner than a forced marathon.

Indeed, spending a half-hour every day jogging – or writing – usually is far more productive than spending five hours only on Saturdays running or working on that novel. Just as your body needs to rest so the muscles can recuperate for the next run, so your mind needs time to think through wording and the next scene, to rejuvenate its creativity.

When developing body strength and toning muscles, what matters is not how long we run in a single session but that we do so over a long period of time. Likewise with the craft of writing, what matters is not how much we practice our craft in a lone albeit long session but that we keep experimenting and learning about writing over several months if not years.

Even with success, writers must be prepared for periods of limited creativity. Not every writing session, as with a jog, will go smoothly. Sometimes when you run into obstacles that cause you to slip or change your pace, like uneven sidewalks, tree roots, and the sudden change from asphalt to gravel. Sometimes the run is markedly more difficult as you must climb a hill; sometimes it is remarkably easy as you crest a knoll and run downhill.

To ensure you set aside time daily to write, just like a jogger creating a new habit, begin by diarize your time. That is, write down what you do each day during the time you are awake from Sunday through Saturday. Next, dedicate slots in this calendar for writing. Any half-hour of free time for at least six of those seven days will work. You may need to rearrange – and even eliminate – some activities to make time for your writing.

Put in the time, though, and you soon will cross the finish line with a completed manuscript!