A few weeks ago, I ran my first in-person half-marathon in just over two years. Despite the fact that it was raining for a good part of it, it was fun and I had a good time.
Added bonus: I always tend to get caught up in the energy and excitement of an in-person race, and this time was no exception. I even ran at a pace a smidge faster than I’m used to; faster than I ever expected to.
So when I got to the home stretch and saw the finish line up ahead, I kicked it into high gear and pushed myself to cross it as soon as possible.
Which I did, I’m happy to say. I’d beaten my expected finish time by about 12-15 minutes.
Suffice to say, I spent the rest of the day feeling pretty good about it.
(I also have a strong suspicion I won’t be able to duplicate that feat anytime soon, but you never know…)
This brings me to my current writing project: a rewrite of my animated fantasy-comedy.
Although progress has been a little slower than I would have liked, I’m currently working my way through Act 3, and making what I consider to be some solid strides. If I can keep my output steady, there’s a good chance I could be typing FADE OUT by early next week.
Even now as I develop, plot, outline, and then actually write each scene, the excitement of “Almost there!” continues to build.
There’s definitely something be said for how a writer feels as they wrap up a draft. I’m already aware of changes/edits/tweaks that will have to be made, so when I’m done, I’ll stash it away for a few weeks and shift to another project (of which there is always a few). Then come back to it with fresh eyes and a red pen, read it through, marking it up as I go.
The past few weeks have been quite the whirlwind of activity on several fronts.
First and foremost, after much work and effort, I released my book GO AHEAD AND ASK!, VOLUME ONE. Responses have been enthusiastically supportive. Plans already in place for Volume 2, which is tentatively set for a late June/early July release.
In case you were wondering, there wasn’t any post last week due to traveling to help the inimitable Ms V wrap up her freshman year at college and transport her home. This also included my running my first in-person half-marathon since February 2020. Finish time of 1:59:06, which was much better than expected – especially considering how much it rained during the race.
But all this activity also meant I didn’t get much writing done, so now it’s time to get back into a somewhat normal routine.
As in – setting aside time to write, or using a phrase I’ve heard bandied about more than a few times:
AIC – Ass In Chair
I’ve got several projects that I’d like to work on, and the only way to make any progress on any of them is to just sit down and do the work.
However much time I can spare each day will be fine, and you can be certain I’ll do my darnedest to get the most out of that time as possible.
The results have already proven beneficial, including a drastic reworking of the latter half of Act Two for one script. This had been nagging me for a few days prior, and it felt great to work my way through to a solution that seems much stronger and more effective than what it was before.
I know all future writing sessions might not be as productive, but I’ll take whatever progress I can get.
Here’s hoping your upcoming AIC times are just as good.
All those years of running finally took their toll – a minor tear in my Achilles tendon and a bone spur that inflamed the bursa on the back of my heel.
Thus the recuperation is underway. I’m out of commission for a few more weeks when it comes to hitting the road. Got a stabilizing boot and everything. Great news from the podiatrist – I may be able to start up again in January, which thrills me to no end.
While I may be doing a few more upper body workouts at the gym, it’s also given me time to get some more writing in. Current project status – coming along nicely, thank you.
But this has reminded me of how many posts I’ve written that compare/relate running to writing a screenplay. Turns out – more than a few.
So what better time than right now to offer them up for your reading enjoyment?
Some of them have similar content, but all the sentiments, perspectives, and observations still apply. Even if you’re not a runner, you can probably relate to a lot of it.
One last thing – since running burns a lot of calories, my race-day tradition is to enjoy an incredibly delicious apple fritter from a local donut institution. I don’t have any posts about that specifically, but here’s something that could fall into that category:
One of the most common analogies regarding screenwriting is “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
Speaking from experience, it most certainly is.
For long-time followers of this blog, one of the things I enjoy doing when I’m not working on scripts is to go for a run. It’s good exercise, lets me catch up on my podcasts, and offers plenty of time to think about my writing projects.
After years of half-marathons, I decided it was time to take on the next challenge – a full marathon. A whole 26.2 miles.
Despite all the training I did, of which there was A LOT, when I set out that morning, I was still nervous. Could I actually do this?
That’s when I reminded myself, and did so repeatedly over the next few hours:
It’s the distance, not the time.
Much as I wanted to finish with a respectable time and pace, I’d decided it was more important just to finish.
Long story short – I got to mile 20 and a twinge developed in my heels and ankles, which then turned into out-and-out pain, so I ended up walking the rest of the way. It took me longer to get there, and definitely wasn’t the way I’d hoped things would play out, but I kept going and crossed that finish line. All the hard work and effort had paid off.
What does this have to do with screenwriting? It’s the perfect metaphor!
Earlier this week on social media, I posted my standard question to the screenwriting community – how’s your latest project coming along?
Answers covered just about the entire spectrum. From “great!” to “almost done with it” to “working out a problem in the second act” to “slowly” to “not at all”.
I can certainly sympathize with those last two. Frustration about a lack of progress is common. Our creativeness just isn’t cooperating, which doesn’t help either.
It usually boils down to two choices: accept the frustration, dig in a little deeper and keep pushing forward, or give up.
For me, giving up just ain’t an option. I love the writing too much to even consider it. But like with the running, I may not get the results I want when I want them, but I’ll keep trying until I do. It might take longer than I want, which honestly would kind of suck, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it.
As writers, we put way too much pressure on ourselves to succeed, sometimes within a somewhat unrealistic timeframe. “If I don’t get the results I want, I’m a failure.”
This is NOT an easy thing we’re trying to do. At least give yourself credit for being willing to do the work. Some people don’t even get that far.
Everybody’s path to success is different, as are our individual finish lines. You know the route you need to take, and how challenging it’s going to be, so it’s up to you to decide how you want to take it on.
So to all the writers feeling disappointed or frustrated about how things are (or aren’t) going, remember that the road ahead may seem treacherous and insurmountable, but if you keep pushing forward and do your best to enjoy the journey, you’ll be that much closer to crossing that finish line.
Hang in there, chums. I may be running my own race, but I’m still on the sidelines, cheering you on.
I haven’t written about it in a while, but one of my other interests is running. It’s inexpensive, good exercise, and I’m fortunate to live in a place well-suited for it.
Added bonus – plenty of time to think about whatever script I’m working on at the time.
However, the passage of time and some good old wear-and-tear are starting to take their toll. My pace is a little slower than it used to be, but I don’t mind.
I especially enjoy half-marathons. 13.1 miles is a good, solid distance. In the Before Times, I’d run about 6-8 a year.
This year, kinda-sorta. All but one of the races I’d signed up to do this year were cancelled. Race organizers, however, were undeterred. Runners were given the option of doing the races virtually, as in “you run the same distance, but on the route of your choosing, then send us your time and a map tracking your route, and we’ll send you your shirt and medal.”
With all of this going on, one of the things I’d always wanted to attempt was running a full marathon. 26.2 miles. Running a half wasn’t too hard, but taking on a full seemed much more formidable.
But the biggest challenge was I wanted to see if I could do it.
So I trained. A lot.
This is also where that part about wear-and-tear really started to make itself known – primarily in my heels and ankles.
But I kept at it, always trying to push myself a little more each time. I was confident, but still plenty nervous.
As the days wound down to Race Day, my anxiety levels were growing. The biggest question on my mind was “COULD I DO THIS?” My family were as supportive and encouraging as possible, but in the end, it was all me.
So I started out. The app in my phone announced at the onset that “tracking would continue for 26.2 miles”, which is quite intimidating during those first few steps.
“It’s the distance, not the time,” I reminded myself.
Off I went through the pre-dawn streets. Sunrise was still about 80 minutes away, and save for some hills and a bridge colored international orange, it was a pretty flat route.
The miles ticked away. I got to the halfway point, feeling pretty confident the second half might not be as challenging as expected.
Mile 19. So far, so good. At this pace, maybe an hour fifteen to go.
Mile 20. The wear-and-tear decides to kick in. For my heels and ankles. Steps got a little bit tougher to take. Then a stabbing pain at the base of my left shin. That doesn’t seem good.
I wanted to keep going, but was more concerned about inflicting further damage, so I chose the safest option: I stopped running, and walked. Not what I wanted, but at least I was still moving.
It’s the distance, not the time, remember?
I got to Mile 24 and thought “maybe I can run these last 2.2 miles” and ran for about 4 steps. Nope. The walk continued.
But I kept going, and eventually did cross the virtual finish line, with a time of 5:11:33.
Not the results I was hoping for, and despite some unexpected problems to deal with, the important thing was I DID IT.
One of the most apt metaphors about screenwriting is “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It takes a REALLY long time to be able to do it, especially properly, so you need to keep working at it, constantly trying to do better.
The journey to finishing a script, let alone establishing a career as a screenwriter, might not be the one you anticipated. Everybody moves at their own pace, so don’t be discouraged if it seems like everybody but you is moving forward by leaps and bounds.
The important thing is to focus on becoming a better writer and making your script better. Work on crossing the finish line that’s waiting for you, and you alone.
Giving yourself a medal, however, is totally optional.