Guest Post by Kim Chaffee
Warrior is my word of the year. I love how it makes me feel just thinking about it. Strong. Courageous. Unbreakable. Warriors do hard things like train for marathons and write books. You heard me correctly. I am likening training for a marathon to writing books. I am currently doing both of those things so I can say that with some authority.
If you write books, then you my friend are a warrior. Here are five reasons why:
1. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part.
I saw a shirt on Etsy the other day that read, “Kinda want to go for a run…kinda want to stay in bed.” Ummm, yes. I simultaneously thought, who is reading my mind and I’ll take a dozen please. Procrastinate, overthink, overanalyze: This is what I do before stepping out for the day’s training run. Why do I do this? Because I know that I have 4 miles or 8 miles or 10 miles to run that day. That’s far when you haven’t even walked to the kitchen for your morning cup of joe.
The same is true in writing. Staring at the blank page or screen in front of you is daunting. I have to create a whole story from nothing? People who tell you writing is easy are liars. Straight up. Writing is hard. But that’s okay because you can do hard things. If you’re a pantser then let the words start flowing. If you’re a plotter, then build your character or your plot or your title. Just start! Once you get going, you’ll be closer to that finished first draft then you ever have been.
2. It’s a huge mental game.
I can’t do this. This is too hard. You should just stop here…no one would fault you for stopping here…the shame of giving up will go away eventually. So many times, thoughts like these have tried to get me to throw in the towel, to quit on my goal. The mental struggle is real.
The same is true in writing. I’ll never publish as many books as X. This story is total garbage. Sure, I have one book published but I got lucky…everyone will know it was a fluke…I am a terrible writer. These are thoughts that all writers have. There’s even a word for it- imposter syndrome. And there are very successful authors that still battle with it despite success. But you can’t give in. Instead, try changing your mindset. Realize that you are thinking and feeling these things because you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Congratulations! You are now in the space where you are growing as a writer! You’re doing exactly what you need to do to make your dreams happen! So keep going.
3. You won’t be ready overnight and that’s okay.
As I write this, I’m at the point in my training where I just started to run distances I’ve never run before. Last weekend was my first 15-mile run ever. I won’t lie. It was hard. So hard that instead of rejoicing that I had just run 15 miles, I worried about the 11 miles that I would eventually need to tack on. Yikes. Maybe I can’t do this. That thought actually entered my brain. It took a good twenty-four hours before I had my Oprah like, lightbulb moment…the marathon isn’t tomorrow. It’s not next week or even next month (at this point). I don’t need to add on those 11 miles for another two months. I’ll do it slowly and gradually. It’s okay that I’m not there yet.
The same is true in writing. The very first story you write probably won’t be the first story you sell. And that’s okay. No one wakes up, writes a story and sells it in “a very good deal” right out of the gate. Take classes, expand your knowledge of the genre you write, put in the time to write lots and lots of stories. Your book doesn’t have to sell tomorrow or next week or even next month. Be gracious with yourself if you are not yet where you want to be on your publishing journey. Just keep putting one word after another.
4. It takes a village.
On race day, it’s true that I, alone, will be the one at the start line. I, alone, will be the one running from Hopkinton to Boston. But there’s no way I will even make it that far without the support of so many. The family members that check in to see how far I ran today. The running friends that join me for some miles to keep me going and cheer me on. The loved ones that gently remind me that refueling your body with cookies and little chocolate candies (again) probably isn’t the best choice. I’m grateful for them all.
The same is true in writing. You, alone, will query the agents and editors. You, alone, will field “the call” when the moment arrives. But a critique group of fellow writers to share your work with, an agent who helps submit your story to closed publishing houses, an editor who molds and polishes your story, an illustrator who brings your words to life. They truly are the village behind every published book. Find yours.
5. There will be bad days.
Sometimes there are days when my legs feel like lead and it takes everything in me to get through the miles. Those days are hard. But I try to remind myself of that beautiful truth revealed in the ever-insightful movie, Inside Out. In order to feel joy, we must understand what it feels like to experience sadness. I fight through hard days so I know how amazing it is to have great ones.
The same is true in writing. Rejections happen. Writer’s block happens. Opening up the Publisher’s Weekly Right’s Report and learning that your book has already been written and sold… in a multi-house auction, happens. It hurts. Lean in to the hurt. Don’t shove it aside and pretend it’s not there. Feel it. But don’t wallow there. Feel it and move forward. That is where warriors are born. And you are a warrior.
Kim Chaffee is the author of Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon, illustrated by Ellen Rooney (Page Street Kids, April, 2019) and Nothing Wee About Me!, illustrated by Laura Bobbiesi (Page Street Kids, November 2019). Kim is an avid runner and former second grade teacher. To learn more about Kim, visit her website at www.kimchaffee.com/.
Use the links below to order the Kirkus starred, Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon.
You can also visit Goodreads to put Nothing Wee About Me! on your "want to read" shelf. www.goodreads.com/book/show/41150313-nothing-wee-about-me?from_search=true
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