Friday, August 03, 2012

Writing: Running The First Mile

I think I first read it in one of the novels of Robert B. Parker. His protagonist, Spenser, says that someone running only two miles is running the hardest two--the first and the last. Now, I'm not a runner. I leave that to my friend and golf partner, Jerry, who has run his share of marathons. I go with the philosophy that the only reason to run is if you're being chased.

That having been said, on my walks I've discovered that it's tough to get started, but once I'm going it gets easier. Now that I think about it, writing is that way. It's tough to get going--to sit down at the computer and craft the beginning of a piece, whether it's a 250 word meditation for The Upper Room or an 80,000 word novel for Thomas Nelson Company. (Please excuse the shameless plug).

But once I get started, once I introduce the characters and define the story arc, things flow more easily. I've run the first mile. That doesn't mean that the words just jump onto the page. Hardly. But running the first mile, or writing the first page, or crafting the first paragraph are the hardest parts of the journey.

Of course, this isn't just true of writing. How many times have I been faced with a difficult task, only to find that once I got started it was manageable? How about you? Is this true of your life? Or am I the only one who has trouble getting out of the starting blocks?

(Photo of Olympian Bob Hayes via Flickr).


Jan Cline said...

I'm a middle of the race dragger. The first and last mile are indeed the easiest. Then unlike a runner, I have a hard time figuring out when the race is over....when is the manuscript good enough...when do I stop and move on even when no one seems interested?

I've just recently put down one and started the next. It was hard. Even though the new story is flowing pretty well, I still worry about the other finished, submitted novel slumbering in the confines of my computer. If only writer's had a ribbon to break through at the end telling us "well done, now on to the next race."

Richard Mabry said...

Jan, Well-said. When we're writing that very first one, we don't know when to stop scratching at it because it's done. Truly, the first mile and the last one are the hardest. Thanks for your comment.