The writer’s workout – Running in the dark
The other night I was walking back from a Starbucks near my house. It’s only a mile away, but since it is in the mall and I live in Southern California, my natural inclination has always been to drive. Lately I’ve started running and being generally healthier, so I walk as much as I can. I’ve even walked to work (1.8 miles) a couple of times.
As I was walking back, a guy was jogging down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. He wasn’t in the best shape and was definitely struggling, but I gave him a nod of understanding. It brought to mind a great quote I’ve seen everywhere since I started running, “No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch.” It’s so true and it applies to writing too. No matter how awful you think your first draft is, it’s still more words than the person who keeps talking up his story that’s never been written.
The thing that made me relate as I saw him jog by was that he was doing it pretty late at night. It was dark and there weren’t many people out. Putting yourself out there as a beginner in anything can always be intimidating. When I started running, I would make sure it was dark out and the evening traffic was clear. I could just imagine some passersby pointing and laughing as I struggled along at what could only be described as a medium-paced walk.
Over time, I got faster. My form got better. Eventually I was running well simply because I wasn’t self-conscious anymore. Sure, I’m by no means a fast runner and I’m still a ways off from my targeted health goals, but I’m confident and comfortable running. I go running right when I get home now even though the sun goes down later. It’s daylight out and there’s a long line of traffic at the intersections I run through, but I don’t even notice anymore.
I’ve written some terrible first drafts and a couple of scripts that will never see the light of day. But it took those first couple times in the dark, struggling along while getting the hang of things in order to get better. I’m more comfortable sending out my writing now than I was before. It’s by no means where I want it to be, but I know that I’ve put in that time in the dark and can have my writing out in the open now.