As some of you know, I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve lost a little, but it’s a slow process (we go out to eat way too much here in Florida), so I’ve started taking walks with my husband on the days I don’t go to yoga class. Today I had a rough time convincing myself to go. Although it’s sunny, the temperature is only in the high 50s and the wind is blowing, making it seem colder. And I stayed up late last night, so I’m tired. And my back hurts. And…
Well, you get the point. I was making excuses, which I also do when it comes to writing. (I can’t write because I’m not sure how I want this scene to go. I won’t have enough time to really get much written, so why start. I’m tired…and so on.)
Starting a book and starting a walk are very similar. With both you have to decide where you’re going and what direction you want to take to get there. Once I get started walking, I usually find a comfortable pace, my muscles warm up, and I begin to enjoy the scenery. With a book, once the characters have been introduced and I’ve indicated the setting and time period, and introduced the major conflict, if only as a hint, I’m eager to tell the story.
As with writing, it’s the middle of the walk where I slow down. (We have a 1-mile loop we walk here in Florida.) I’m now at the halfway point. I must go as far as I’ve come in order to get back home. Can I make it?
My husband mentioned that when he was in training as a Marine, if they had a march, they often didn’t know where they were going, so he never knew if he was halfway there or not. I told him that reminded me of the difference between writers who are plotters (I tend to be one, though I do wander quite a bit.) and pantsers (who start out with characters and maybe a conflict or an idea and simply let the story unfold.) Pantsers may know where they want to end up, but they have no idea how long it’s going to be before they get there. Or maybe they don’t even know if they’ve reached the end until they do get there.
Today when we reached the last third of our walk, my husband yelled at me to slow down. I didn’t realize I’d picked up speed, but I guess I had. I knew I wasn’t far from the end of the walk, I knew exactly where I was headed. Again, this is similar to when I’m writing. Once I get past that middle (that’s where I’m stuck right now) and I can see the ending in sight, I’m eager to get to the computer and write. My fingers don’t type fast enough to keep up with the words running through my head.
And when I type THE END, I’m tired and happy and a little sad that I’ve actually reached the end of the story and have to say goodbye to these characters and their adventure. I have a similar reaction at the end of a walk. I made it. I’m a little tired, but the fresh air and the exercise were exhilarating. I accomplished what I set out to do.
(Now, if I can just get through the middle of this book I’m working on.)