Wednesday, November 17, 2010

writing and running

Seems a lot of writers are also runners, and as I work the theme of running into a new story I’m working on, I can see why. The physical act of writing is fairly static: You sit in a chair, you stretch once in a while, but mostly it’s your fingers moving. Running is a chance for those of us who otherwise sit a lot to get out and get moving. It’s a way to connect with motion and forward momentum. I’ve found this can be really, really useful when a project is getting bogged down and losing that page-turner quality.

Running – especially outdoor running…especially trail running – is anything but static. When you’re out off-roading it, your entire being needs to be alert and aware. It’s good practice for writerly types who, if given the choice, would spend most of their time with their heads in the clouds. I remember when I used to go for runs across the remote prairie where I lived I always had at least one ear and one eye on the alert for mountain lions because a canyon they supposedly liked to frequent was just a couple miles away as the crow flies. It was great motivation to keep moving at a good clip, let me tell you (and I was never quite sure what I’d do if I actually ran into a mountain lion, but just being aware of the possibility seemed somehow like a good idea).

These days I run mostly on a frontage road near the interstate, but I usually take Lizzy the Cow Dog with me on her telescoping leash. That means I have to keep my eye out for cars, since she has very little sense that way and will basically run right out into the road, completely oblivious. So, my eyes are on the dog and the road ahead, my ears are kept busy with iPod tunes, and my legs are doing their thing, reminding me that forward momentum is what keeps the world – and the story – alive and interesting.

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