Haruki Murakami on writing while running

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Haruki Murakami. flickr creative commons user Bradley Wind
Haruki Murakami. flickr creative commons user Bradley Wind

Last week, I mentioned that a writing goal, like Chris Guillebeau’s goal of 1,000 words a day, can help you create the right writing habits. It’s the same for anything, really: if you can commit to something realistic, and do it every day, the rest will fall into place and you’ll see improvement.

For me, this same principle applies to running. As with my writing, my running hasn’t always been consistent, and I’m trying to change that. I try to run every other day, with another workout on off days to rest my muscles. Since November, I’ve been able to keep this schedule (for the most part) so it has become a consistent habit.

One of my favorite novelists is Haruki Murakami. His memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a reflection on his career as both a runner and writer. Throughout the book, he admits his writing only became an artistic and commercial success because he wrote every day and kept disciplined throughout his career.

This discipline came into play through his running as well. In the midst of his writing career, Murakami has run a handful of marathons including the Boston Marathon.

I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running a couple years ago, but I found this quote from the book to be just as relevant today as it was when I read it the first time:

Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.

What I talk about when I talk about runningRunning, just like writing, is a difficult process. It requires commitment and drive, then it requires follow-through. It’s not something you can do every once in a while; instead, it takes years of practice to improve.

Maybe you’re not a runner or writer, but the same applies to other creative work. Just remember: this is a process, and it requires drive, persistence, and consistency to be successful.

Kevin Eagan (@KevEagan) is a freelance editor and writer living in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. Critical Margins is his place to share his interests. You can also follow him on Google+ or check out his professional website, KevinThomasEagan.com.