How I wrote my book and ran a marathon

Recently, I wrote a book.

A lot of people in the non-cyber world have asked me how I did it.  I just decided to.  How long it took.  Five months with a two year break halfway through and another two years sitting on it.  How I fitted it in amongst having young children and going to work.  I wrote the front half during my first pregnancy at 6.00 AM and the last half during my second pregnancy at 8.00 PM.  People ask me those sorts of questions before asking anything about the book itself.  It seems they are more interested in the process.  Or perhaps the title, Up the Duff without a Paddle, just needs no further explanation.  Or just isn’t interesting.  Yikes.

After feeling a bit of blog apathy earlier this week and discussing twitterbloggate with lovely twitter friend, she suggested doing some behind the scenes stuff on my book.  I hadn’t thought of it to be honest.   Why would anyone be interested?  But then I remembered all the questions and how we all like to know how something is done.  What a good idea, lovely and clever twitter friend.  Who also makes very nice homemade liquor.  I would like to know how that is done.

It might also help dispel the theory that I am Superwoman amongst a few of my friends. Actually, I don’t want to completely dispel that one.  Because I quite like the title.  It makes me feel ever so slightly important.  And I also like her red boots.

You see you only have to go on twitter to realise that lots of us are doing this.  Writing. Blogging.  Tweeting.  All whilst bringing up children and hanging out the washing.  Frankly, it’s intimidating how brilliant and talented these women are.  Amongst them, I am only an aspirational superhero.  So far.

Despite being a new writer, I realise I do have things to say about how I wrote my book.  Not the motivation behind it, you can find that on the blog I wrote for Netmums.  Simply the process.  And a lot of it has to do with running.  Particularly marathon running.  I have found them to be not dissimilar disciplines.  I’m not the first.  There’s a rather fantastic book by Haruki Murakami called What I Talk About When I Talk about Running.  If you like writing and running it’s well worth checking out.

For me, the most compelling similarity between running and writing is the need for discipline. You only get to 300 pages or 26.2 miles by actually doing it.  Gradually.  Sitting down and putting in the hours or getting out and clocking up the miles.  It’s that simple.  Or that hard.

The other common denominator is structure.  I planned the book chapter by chapter with a flow chart and a word document.  Sounds anything but creative, I know.  But I like Powerpoint and it helped me work out where it was going.  When I trained for the marathon, I followed a strict training schedule and built up the miles over four runs a week.  At 6.00 AM funnily enough.

They’re both solitary recreations.  You only have yourself to rely on and yourself to let down. It’s nothing to do with me not being a team player, as Daddy Pig suggests.  More likely that once you have children, you’ll do anything to be on your own.

Finally there’s the euphoria.  The post-run endorphins that make you feel elated, like anything is possible and you can achieve it all.  It’s the identical feeling I get when I press Publish on my blog.  Deep satisfaction.  The two are so closely intertwined, that since I’ve started blogging, I’ve begun running again.  It’s as if one feeds the other.

There is one flaw in my theory.  Naturally.

Confidence in ability.  I have no self-doubt about running.  I never questioned being able to complete a marathon even though I hadn’t regularly run more than three miles at a time.  But when it came to writing a book I challenged myself constantly.  I have the stats to prove this. 420 miles in four months.  225 pages in four years.  They speak for themselves.

There are just so many ways you can write something, how do you know which is best?  People will always interpret your writing in a way they don’t your running.

Unless of course you run like Phoebe in Friends.


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    5 thoughts on “How I wrote my book and ran a marathon

    1. Sarah

      having just run the London Marathon at the weekend this post was particularly interesting to me. Especially since I afterwards declared “don’t ever let me say I’ll run a marathon again, if I need another life changing challenge I’m going to write a book.” The similarities you identify are right, discipline and determination are required for both and i’m sure sometimes that both can also bring you close to tears at times. Thank you for sharing your insights into writing a book, I may very well need them. Found you from #PoCoLo

    2. Suzanne

      I am in awe….you wrote a book and ran a marathon!! Obviously not at the same time, but you achieved both – amazing. A friend of mine just completed her first book, the only way she did it (according to her) was by sticking to a schedule. You cannot simply sit down and hope it all flows. My husband is convinced that one day i will write a book, for me it’s about the confidence…Off to check out Twitterbloggate. Can’t wait!

    3. Verily Victoria Vocalises

      What an organised person you are! I am sometimes called Superwoman but are nowhere near as organised as you with flowcharts and the like! Maybe I should do that and it will stop me stressing so much!! A clear direction is what is needed. Btw my OH saw the title to your blog when I was reading through PoCoLo last week and he loved it 🙂 Thanks for linking up again lovely xx

    4. itsamummyslife

      This line made me smile – it sums up EXACTLY why I run and why I write: “More likely that once you have children, you’ll do anything to be on your own.” I have more motivation for both of these things now that I have children, I dont have time to think about whether I want to, in the time I get I just have to do it, simple. I’m not built for a marathon though, I stick to 1/2s.

      Congrats on the book too! 🙂


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