Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Running Man

Every few months, I will dust off my running shoes, dig out my running shorts and make a genuine effort to get fit. Recently, I have even been following a strict running plan. I will start off slow on the first day, alternating between a light jog and a brisk walk. Over time I will increase the workout, until finally, I am at the stage where I can jog freely for as long as I like.

The problem is that something usually seems to get in the way. More often than not it is the weather (running in the rain is no fun) and sometimes it is something literally in the way, like a branch (I have lost count of the number of collision caused injuries that I have sustained over the years). Suffice to say, I quite frequently end up back at square one.

The running plan that I follow is spread over 12 weeks, but due to the setbacks, I have done week one many times more than any other. I have noticed a similar pattern forming in my writing. Some writers are disciplined, but not me.  Like it is with running, my writing takes place with a lot of stops and starts. And like the running, every time that I stop writing, I always have to go back to the start when I take it up again.

I tell myself that I am merely re-reading the early chapters to get back into the flow, in order to continue on with the story, but the truth is that I can never leave them alone. I always see something that is not quite right and then I start editing and re-writing and by the time that I catch up to where I was in the novel, something comes up and I end up leaving it for a prolonged period. When I do get back to it, I end up right back at the start, going over and over the same early chapters.

It is six weeks since I last went for a run and in that time, I am sure that my fitness has dropped so far as to place me back at week one on the schedule. It is a little longer since I have worked on my current novel (my time has been taken up by redrafting my other novels to bring them up to scratch for publishing) and so when I get back to working on it, I will have to reread over everything that I have written so far, from page one. 

Nothing improves me as a writer more than editing and as such, I am likely to see much that can be improved since I last worked on the story. I have roughly 30,000 words to date and I suspect that by the time that I have rewritten them to a satisfactory standard, something will come up and require me to put the project on hold yet again. When I return, I know that I will be unable to avoid going right back to the start.

(Above picture was taken in Auckland. We were at the top of a very steep hill, when we saw this guy who had not only jogged the whole way up, but he did it whilst walking his dog and having a tire dragging behind him!)

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