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.

About Kevin Eagan

Kevin Eagan (@criticalmargins) is a freelance editor, writer, and teacher who lives in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. In addition to writing about book technology and teaching college students how to write, Kevin works as an associate editor for punctum books. Previously, he was the books editor for Blogcritics. You can also follow him on Google+ or check out his professional website, KevinThomasEagan.com.

  • http://literacychange.org jenniferdines

    I often get my best writing ideas when running!

    • http://criticalmargins.wordpress.com Kevin Eagan

      So do I. In fact, I have my voice recorder app on while running so I can dictate ideas when they come!

  • http://causticcookies.wordpress.com peterlicari13

    I’ve been running since I was in fifth grade. Both running and writing are my life’s passions. I couldn’t agree more with you when you say how both are about discipline. Plus, they both have an elegant beauty to them: The more you do it, the better you get.

    Awesome post! Good luck with the running schedule. Seems like it’s working well for you.

    • http://criticalmargins.wordpress.com Kevin Eagan

      Thanks, Peter!

      It seems to me that writers who run (and vice-versa?) tend to “get” the discipline needed to do both successfully. In that way, they share similarities. You should read Murakami’s book if you haven’t done so already. It’s a good one!