Running like a Writer


Shoe and Pen

Well, it’s finally getting warmer (which is an odd statement considering there’s snow outside my window at the moment…) but that means I’m slowly rekindling my love of running. Long distance running has, for a long time, been an important part of my writing. I gave it some thought and broke it down to three main reasons:

Solidarity with my characters.

Because—let’s face it—the vast majority of my characters are significantly more athletic than I am. If I’m going to write cool swordfight scenes, wild chases through the forests, and week-long journeys on foot, I would have to assume that these people needed to build their endurance somehow. As I’m panting and fighting my way up a hill, it’s nice to remember that there was probably a time when my characters did the same thing.

Lots of time for brainstorming.

This is exactly why I run instead of play volleyball or soccer. Running is the perfect sport for daydreamers. When I lace up the running shoes, I normally pick a plot problem I’ve been struggling with or a character who could use a stronger back story, and I carry that thought with me for the run.

Maybe it’s just the excess of oxygen to the brain, but I tend to be fairly productive during my runs. Once I started with a character so underdeveloped she was practically see-through, and an hour later a sweatier version of me felt like she really understood this woman.

This run is for…

If I have a particularly difficult workout ahead of me, I’ll pick a character and say that this run is for him or her. It sounds a little cheesy (but hey, look at the rest of my blog! Do you really think I’m bothered by a little corniness?) but I find I’m able to push myself to run longer and faster if it’s for one of the characters.

Candles 032115

Whenever I feel tired and tempted to stop, I remember all of the mean things I put that character through, and I push through. So, I guess you could say that my characters help my running as much as my running helps my characters.



10 responses »

  1. I want to get into running when the weather gets warmer. This post is great motivation 🙂 I especially like the idea of running for a character, I don’t think it’s corny at all. Thanks!

    • If I may offer a suggestion? (Because I’m also tired easily and it took me a loooong time to get my stamina built up). Start with walking, maybe for 30 minutes or so. And when that’s comfortable, bring a stopwatch, run for 1 minute, then walk 9 and repeat. And when *that’s* comfortable, go to run 2 and walk 8, and so on. I found that it was much less intimidating than just hopping outside and struggling through a mile and getting discouraged. I just kept thinking to myself, it’s only 1 minute. 60 seconds. I can run for 60 seconds, and then I get a nice long break. And you still get all the writer-ly benefits 🙂

  2. I can really relate to this! I’m slowly becoming fonder and fonder of running and I think it’s because of my characters. As you say, running is the perfect sport for daydreamers, and I find it almost impossible to not drift off into thought during a run. I’m not nearly as focussed as you are when it comes to developing plot points or characters, but I definitely hear you when it comes to feeling like the character. I have one character in particular who uses exercise to combat loneliness and I always feel like I’m stepping directly into his shoes. It’s really great that we can have this way of not only bonding with characters, but also making our own bodies healthier at the same time 😀

    • Exaaaactly!! Yes! It’s so much easier to run when you’re pretending to be one of your characters. Also, next time you sit down to write those characters working out, you have so much personal knowledge to draw from. (And your lonely, exercising character sounds really interesting. He/She would probably be my favorite. I just love characters who are sad but actually try to do something about it.)

      • It’s always nice when your habits are able to support each other–I mean, pretty much anything can get turned into writing experience, but it’s nice when that particular something helps improve your body 😛 (Ahaha I am also quite fond of him… He’s a sweetheart. A poor, troubled sweetheart :D)

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