The Timeless Link Between Writing and Running and Why It Makes for Better Work

There is a lot of mythology about a writer’s life and routine, and very little of it is true. It’s one reason why that famous misquote from Hemingway is so popular, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

If Hemingway ever did say such a thing, his meticulously edited, and ironically, handwritten manuscript pages at the John F. Kennedy Library speak much more loudly. There are some 47 alternative endings for Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms, written by his hand alone. Hemingway rewrote the first part of the book, by his own count, more than 50 times.

In truth, like many ventures, writing is a long hard slog. It’s more akin to a marathon of effort than a sprint of inspiration. Not that writing is a miserable profession. It isn’t. If one learns to cope with it properly, it’s quite wonderful and any who gets to do it for a living is blessed. But the coping is key. For many writers, that coping comes in a form rather appropriate to the analogy I gave above: Writers cope with writing by running.

My routine goes something like this: After the hectic office hour, I begin to slow down and eventually become stuck. Accepting that any more time spent would be throwing good effort after bad, I change, put on my running shoes, and go for a run.

Depending on whether I’m writing from my home or my office, my run will be one of a few prescribed courses. 

I run because I love it. Because it’s good exercise. It’s the only exercise I’ve ever really been good at.. But I run for another reason, the same reason that many writers apparently run: it makes me better at my job.

There are many writers who run. Of course, there is Murakami, who in addition to his beautiful fiction, is best known in the running community for his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Malcolm Gladwell has been a competitive runner since high school (and recently told Tim Ferriss that he begins every morning by checking out Letsrun.com. Novelist Don DeLillo told the Paris Review how after writing for four hours, he goes running to “shake off one world and enter another.” Joyce Carol Oates, in her ode to running, said that “the twin activities of running and writing keep the writer reasonably sane and with the hope, however illusory and temporary, of control.” Lawrence Block, creator of the Matthew Scudder series was not only an avid runner, but a competitive walker too (more on that in a minute).

Professional writers quickly learn one reality of the job: you have more bad days than good. It’s the rare day that the writer finds that the words come out exactly the way they were in their head. In fact, it’s usually the opposite — one is disappointed, distracted, struggling, committed but unproductive. It’s a special day when the flow is pure and uninterrupted, when one doesn’t stop somewhere short of where they’d like to be.

But exercise — especially running — is the opposite. A run is almost always good, and if you don’t take your phone, hardly ever interrupted. If you set out to run five miles and five miles is within your capabilities, you will accomplish that goal. It’s rare that one leaves their house for a run and somehow doesn’t make it back. In this way, running is predictable, dependable, satisfying and thus a counterbalance for the mercurial muses of the creative professional.

The writer Shelby Foote, who I gather from the copious of images of him in a bathrobe, slippers and smoking a pipe, wasn’t much for running, once joked about all the things he discovered for his books “while looking for something else.” As a researcher, I can attest to that. As a runner, I can also say that most of my biggest breakthroughs as a writer came after I had stopped writing and gone running.

 

There’s no race, there’s only a runner
Just keep one foot in front of the other

As a runner, the real race is getting up and running every single day. Life is the marathon. The same is true in writing. A lot of people sit down to write a book. Many don’t make it past that point. Plenty get something finished, but are intimidated by the maze that is publishing, promoting, selling. And of the relative few that make it through there, only some have the stamina to start the next one. To make it a career.

Murakami once described running as “both exercise and a metaphor.” This is true. The life of a running writer is marathon within a marathon within a marathon. The training and the participation in each one of these races makes us better at the other. He also said, in an interview a few years ago:

“Without a solid base of physical strength, you can’t accomplish anything very intricate or demanding. That’s my belief. If I did not keep running, I think my writing would be very different from what it is now.”

This has always been true, even before our modern culture of exercise. Diogenes Laertes in his famous Lives of Eminent Philosophers tells us that the philosopher Chrysippus trained as a long distance runner before he discovered Stoicism. One can only imagine the influence this training had on Chrysippus, and how it put him in a position to understand a philosophy based on self-discipline, inner-control and endurance. The saying in the ancient world was that “But for Chrysippus, there had been no Porch.” (the stoa in stoicism) But for many miles of running, would there have been a Chrysippus?

There are plenty more philosophers, writers, and poets who have found the same benefits in not just in running but in walking. For centuries, thinkers have walked many miles a day because they had to, because they were bored, because they wanted to escape the putrid cities they lived in, because they wanted to get their blood flowing. In the process they discovered an important side-effect: it helped them make better work. As Nietzsche would later say: “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” Thoreau, another avid walker, claimed, “the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow.”

Lawrence Block, a prodigious writer and author of more than a hundred books, traded in marathons for day long distance walking races in his 60s. This activity, he says, is quite similar creative process. He told screenwriter Brian Koppelman on Slate’s The Moment, “either writing or distance walking would be a bad idea for someone who doesn’t have much of an inner-life.” The novelist Helen Dunmore gave The Guardian a list of rules for creating fiction. The best one? “A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.”

 

CC10 Toastmaster Speech: My Rebirth Continued…

The objective of CC10 speech:

  • To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
  • Appeal to the audience’s needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama.

I have used my story for this speech.

Opening:

“Say What You Did! Do What You Said”. This is my principle.
I can motivate you to do something only if I have done it myself.
Otherwise my speech will have no credibility. It will sound hollow and will fail to inspire you.
However there is one achievement of mine that I can talk about with some credibility.

I remember a day just 11 months back, when I had delivered my ice breaker in this stage. The title was ‘My Rebirth’. Now I feel it should be ‘My Rebirth Continued…’ because I feel I am reforming every day. Because I am exploring myself every day. So this time I kept my title as ‘My Rebirth Continued…’.

Body:

A very warm good afternoon to my fellow TMs and dear guests,

Emotional, Introvert and stubborn were the qualities which were shadowing me behind the cloud to shine even though I was the owner of some good qualities such as hardworking, caring and disciplined.

There is a saying that “If you don’t know how to manage your emotion, then your emotion will start managing you”.

You know what the problem is? You get attached first, and once you are attached to someone, you do everything you can to please them and make them happy. it’s never been about what you want, it’s always everyone’s need before your own, you give out too many chances to people, who quite frankly don’t deserve them. They take advantage of you and you become a pushover.

But, today, I am the master of my emotion.

If I feel depressed, I sing a song.

If I feel sad, I laugh aloud.

If I feel ill, I make my labor double.

If I feel fear, I plunge ahead.

If I feel uncertain, I raise my voice.

If I feel incompetent, I feel my past success.

Never apologize for being emotional. Let this be a sign that you have got a big heart and are not afraid to let other’s see it. Showing your emotion is a sign of strength.

What is common between Hrithik Roshan, Mukesh Ambani, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

All are introverts!!! They are among the most powerful men in the world.

Introverts are probably the best and most loyal friends an individual could have. Since they interact and open up to only a few people, they love those people many times more than others would. The funniest thing about them is that once they feel comfortable with you, they can be the funniest, most enjoyable people to be around. It’s like a secret they feel comfortable in sharing with you.

No, I am not shy, I am not stuck up, I am not antisocial, I am just listening, I am just observing, I can’t stand small talk, but I will talk about life for hours, I’d rather be at home with a close friend, than among a crowd of acquaintances. If I am open up to me, note that I am very special to me.

I express myself through my writings which have the huge potential like a roaring ocean!!!

Being stubborn can be a good thing, being stubborn can be a bad thing. It just depends on how I use it.

I am stubborn, because I hate to be wrong, I love to be right. because I want to explore my life on my own way rather than walking in the path shown by others.

Sometimes, I have walked in a path opposite to that shown by my near and dear.

Though those were very minor, but as I was very emotional and attached to them, my deviation from their rule was not accepted by them.

So, definitely, they showcased me that I am a very stubborn individual.

But, no. I have become successful by walking in a path which is left by others. And I will show the world that your so called stubbornness has not downgraded me but it has added challenge to my life and at last it has brought me success.

Its just your misconception about my DETERMINATION.

 

I am strong, because I know my weakness.

I am beautiful, because I am aware of my flaws.

I am fearless, because I learn to recognize illusion from real.

I am wise, because I learn from my mistakes.

I am a lover, because I have felt the hate.

I can laugh, because I have known the sadness.

Strength does not come from what you can do, but it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you could not.

Let’s start writing our own stories.

When writing the story of our life – let’s make sure we hold the pen
Make sure not only that we hold the pen, but also we write the script from our heart. We should be brave when writing our scripts, it’s our story and there is NO LIMIT to what we can have, what we can do or what we can be.

Conclusion:

Dear Friends, the biggest struggle in life is the struggle to know, embrace, and accept ourselves, with all of our faults and imperfections. When we have the courage to let the walls down – to know and embrace ourselves, despite our human failings, we also open the door to get connected in a more caring, empathic, intimate way with the ones we love and with all living beings. We become more mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We should know our vulnerabilities as well as our strengths and achievements, and learn to love ourselves for both.

Everyone is having some negative qualities, but recognizing, accepting and trying to overcome it will only bring confidence in you and one day that confidence will only bring you your desired success.

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming challenges makes life meaningful!!!

We can never be brave until and unless we don’t accept ourselves in public.

The time has come to convert the negative qualities using the positives.

Self-love is not selfish, we cannot truly love another, until we know how to love ourselves.