The start of the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, Alaska.
When I ran my first marathon, I had little idea of what I was doing. I ran slower than I could have, so when I crossed the finish line I was smiling. I was hooked. I wanted to keep running marathons, and I wanted to improve my time.
So, I started running more and more, and figured that by putting the miles in, I’d improve. A year later I ran my second marathon. I improved my time by a few minutes, but was hurting at the end, and it took weeks to recover.
(That’s not me, but it’s an accurate representation of how I felt.)
Long story short. Logging a bunch of miles didn’t really help much because I didn’t know how to train.
So, I talked to other runners, read books, and focused my training. Over time, I’ve improved some as marathoner, but I’ve worked harder than I imagined I’d work after crossing that first finish line.
When I finished my first novel, I was excited. Then I tried to make it better and learned how much I didn’t know.
A few novels later and I’ve improved, but I think much of my improvement has come from major rewriting, trading manuscripts for critique, reading craft books, taking a creative writing class, and studying other novels.
This running/writing analogy isn’t perfect, and I know there is no substitute for putting in the hours writing, but I’m curious: What are you doing to improve your writing besides writing? Is there one thing that has been particularly helpful? Where’s the balance for you between writing and doing other things to improve your writing?