Now the bad news. That same reliable stopwatch reported a time of 64 minutes, 34 seconds during my 7-mile run this past Saturday. Ugh. I'd like to blame this last rather lacking time on the heat and humidity level at 83%, or the fact that I neglected to bring a drink with me, or that black cat that deliberately crossed my path on mile 5 (;0). But no sense spewing out excuses like raindrops during a 3-year drought--it wasn't the best run. And yet without that stopwatch to push me, I'd wager a bet my time would have been a lot worse.
Other items I find useful for my marathon training?
-2 good pairs of sneakers
-2 bags of frozen peas (for icing those aching knees)
-vitamins, including glucosamine pills--again, for those pesky knees
-lightweight running clothes and of course the ever-important sports bra (God may not have been feeling especially generous the day He fashioned my upper hemisphere, but I'm determined to take care of it)
-a training schedule. I got mine at http://www.marathonrookie.com/. It requires 4 workouts per week--2 intense, longer runs, and 2 recovery workouts with shorter mileage.
Writing a novel requires a few tools, also. I like to think of my laptop as my main support--the sneakers, if you will--of my writing. Sure, I could write with a pen and paper, and still often do, but it's kind of like running barefoot; I feel free for a little bit, but soon realize I can't keep up with my thoughts or the technological world without some serious blood and blisters.
The schedule is a must for me. Finding consistent, quiet time to write can be a big challenge, but I'm more productive if I adhere to certain times of writing. Early morning while my family is sleeping, or after lunch when my kids are having their quiet--I use that word loosely--time work best for me. Like my running schedule, I also try to give myself "rest" days. Tearing myself away from my WIP allows me to come back to it with fresh eyes and new ideas.
I liken my stopwatch to my critique group. They keep me accountable and on target. They push me to write my best. Although at times, they've played another role: that bag of frozen peas, soothing my frustrations and mending my soul when I feel discouraged.
ACFW? They're my running clothes--well, you can't show up to a race naked, can you? They've given me confidence and support to pursue this dream of mine. Without this group, I would have given up long ago.
Now, for the essential classes and resources. Like my vitamins, I take plenty of them. They keep me strong and help me learn as a writer. Every month, ACFW offers a different online course to cater to the many aspects of writing a novel. In addition to these classes, I've read many books on the craft of writing. Here are some I highly recommend:
Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
On my "to read" list:
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins
Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
Also handy, Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide, or 2010 Writer's Market by Robert Lee Brewer.
Did I miss anything important? Runners? Writers?
As a side note, on the writing front, I did a mini sprint these last two weeks. I'm about 3/4 of the way through my revisions. Then, they'll go to my critique group and they'll be more--you guessed it--revisions. Like that 7-mile discouraging run, there have been many times over these past months that I thought "What in the world am I thinking? I can't really do this."
No, I can't do any of this, I realize. At least by myself. And that's when I fall on my knees and hand it all over to the Big Guy. He'll handle it better than I ever could.