I recently discovered a Twitter hashtag I really love: #NonWritersSay.
Type it in, and you’ll get some funny – and totally relatable – results:
“I have a story idea for you.”
“When’s your book going to be done?”
“It must be nice to sit at home all day.”
“I’ve been thinking about writing a book, too.”
There’s another one I’ve heard a number of times, from my mom (Hi, Mom!): “Just write a novel.”
I’ve always wanted to work full-time as a novelist. I spent several years as a journalist before having my first child. Since then, I’ve spent eight years as a direct response copywriter.
For the longest time, whenever I’d mention novel writing, my mom would say, “Well, just write a novel.”
Oh, how it pained me! “Just write a novel.” As if I had time to sit down and write a novel. I had a baby. And a job. We were building a house. I had a dog and some houseplants. “Just write a novel.”
Then I started running.
I signed up for my first race in 2010. It was a 10K – 6.2 miles.
Before that, I’d run for maybe 30 or 40 minutes at a time. When I started training for the 10K, I began keeping track of my distance. The most I ever ran was 4 miles. I was nervous about running 6.2. I didn’t know if I could do it. It seemed like such a long distance.
On race day, I ran the 10K, no problem. I was hooked.
A few months later, I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles). My goal (yes, Mom always talked to me about goals, too…) was to run it in 2 hours. Due to a miscalculation – I’m a writer, not a mathematician – I believed I’d achieve that goal by running 10-minute miles. I realized halfway through the race that my calculations were off. In order to finish in 2 hours, I’d have to pick up my pace.
I finished in 2 hours exactly.
It was at that very moment, as I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon with my stopwatch reading 2:00:00, that I learned something: I can do anything.
With a goal and a plan, I can do anything.
I finished my first novel manuscript shortly after that first half marathon. I’ve finished three other novels since then, and I’m working on another. I’ve run dozens of races.
Recently, I’ve decided to place more focus on writing. I’m currently one-third of the way through the third book in my trilogy, and I’ll publish all 3 books in a few months. But I never stop running. Because with every step, every mile, I remember: I can do anything.
“Just write a novel,” my mom said.
For so long, I thought she was crazy. But then I started running, and I became empowered.
Whether you’re a writer, like me, or you have other goals (to produce a record or rebuild a car or plant an amazing garden or build a house), I don’t want you to miss out on the lesson here.
You don’t have to start running (although I highly recommend it!). But you should know that many people, including me, consider running a metaphor for life.
Set a goal. Make a plan for achieving it. Put in the time to carry out that plan. And see what happens.
You can do it. You can do anything.