The running and writing connection is nothing new; novelists like Haruki Murakami have written entire books about how their running informs their fiction, and vice versa. But do content writers for websites have anything to gain from lacing up and hitting the road?
This summer, I found the answer to be an unequivocal yes. In early June, I signed up to run a half-marathon in October. As a very occasional jogger, I decided to think about my 19 week training plan in the same way I try to approach content writing. Set a goal, then slowly work to achieve it, one piece at a time.
The Importance of Endurance
As I started running longer and longer distances, a funny thing happened. I started noticing that my ability to endure was carrying over into my writing. The same week I ran 8 miles for the first time, I started talking to a client about writing a longer white paper he was considering turning into an ebook. The thought of writing 30,000 words on one job was terrifying, but I knew I could do it if I broke it up into smaller chunks and gave myself adequate time to tackle the job. I found that with both running and writing, showing up is half the job. Put on the sneakers, sit in the desk, and the words and miles will follow.
I was surprised to learn that I actually enjoyed my longer runs, but I realized quickly that short runs were still key building blocks to my training plan. After I submitted my first chunk of the ebook, the client ended up restructuring his timeline, and it was back to combing the open orders and casting calls for the kind of short blog posts I’d cut my teeth on. I found that going from a longer assignment to a shorter one meant that I could work more quickly on a few short assignments. By “sprinting” through blog posts and other short content, I learned to get more efficient and met my monthly income goals in less time.
There have been hard lessons along the way as well. In July, I ran my first 10K, and was so excited (and sore!) that I took a week off from running. I felt every day I had taken off when I finally hit the road again, and was reminded of this experience during the last frantic days of September. In the midst of starting a hectic semester of graduate school, I let my content writing schedule slide, planning to finish a whole batch of articles during a single packed weekend. Needless to say, I felt the burn of biting off more than I could chew, and recommitted to writing the way that I try to run and running the way I try to write: with commitment and consistency, and a realistic expectation for what I can achieve each week.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.