7 Things I Learned about Writing Through Running Pt. 3


March 19, 2015 by Ray Yanek

Thing #3:  Running downhill on a brick sidewalk at night is never, ever, EVER a good idea.


Many sidewalks where I live are made of brick.  We also have a lot of big trees.  The giant tree roots tend to grow under those bricks and raise them like cute little red zombies, as does time and a lack of maintenance.  These raised bricks become serious trip hazards–even in the daytime, especially if you are deep in the zone I mentioned in Thing #2.  The odds of taking a serious, viral-video worthy header are high.  The risk of an express ride to the emergency room, even higher.

Let me reiterate:  running downhill on a brick sidewalk at night is never, ever, EVER a good idea.

Unless, that is, we’re talking about running towards our creative goals.

In that case, fuck it.

Go for it.

In fact, running downhill in the dark on sketchy terrain, screaming and waving your hands in the air like a drooling lunatic is the only way to go.

The creative process relies on blind faith.  Everyday a writer sits in front of a blank screen praying and hoping that something comes to mind.  It’s terrifying.  If we sit and worry about all the raised bricks that could pop into our paths we’ll never start the creative run (see Thing #1).  Sometimes, you  have to trust in the process and push ahead blindly.  Then, when the words start to come and your writing momentum increases like the speed of a runner racing downhill, go with it.

Throw caution aside in those moments. Don’t look back; don’t look ahead.  It’s one foot in front of the other.  One word than one more. Yes, tree roots will jut from the ground in front of you.  Loose bricks will threaten to twist your ankles, toes could get broken, knees scraped, noses flattened.  But the reward of letting those words and ideas flow on the downhill course from your brain, to your shoulders, to your arms and then to your fingers is immense.  You have to hit those downhill sections of the race with reckless abandon and pray you can make up the time you lost on the uphill portions.

Pump your legs faster, scream louder, drool wetter, and run like you stole Satan’s

lighter off the bar until the ground underneath you levels out. If you fall you fall.  If you come back later and find out the entire run was a disaster that you need to delete from your phone’s milage calculator, so be it.

At least you created.  Take each scraped knee and sprained appendage as a badge.  You’ll recover quickly and be back on the road again tomorrow.

Or maybe you’ll find that you shaved quite a few minutes off your time….



4 thoughts on “7 Things I Learned about Writing Through Running Pt. 3

  1. Kevin says:

    Go big! You can’t win if you don’t put it all on the line.

  2. zeuslyone says:

    I remember running a state championship X-C race in high school. There was a crazy steep downhill jaunt at around mile 2. I started churning down it, trying to keep good form and speed (and most importantly, trying to keep from dying in a tumble down the hill). Eventually, I had a “fuck it” moment, let go, and ran down as fast as I could, hoping that my legs would be able to keep up with gravity. Somehow, I made it, and it was exhilarating, one of the most memorable race moments I have. I don’t even really remember the rest of that race–just that part. You’re right. This also applies to writing. Sometimes, you just have to let go, churn through while following the flow of it, and trust the creative process. Possible injuries/creative crash and burns be damned!

  3. What a great analogy! I love it. I don’t always write that way, but it does help to jumpstart my creative juices when I’ve stalled out.

    Participating in NaNoWriMo annually helps me to run full bore into the writing process and loosens up the creative bits. Even if I don’t use anything I produced during the month of November, I find it’s much easier to sit and commit to writing afterwards.

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