Running, Writing and the 20-point Shot

1 Oct

Waiting to start

“Give me your hands,” she said, holding her own out, palms up.

Confused, I took them nonetheless. Was this some kind of congratulatory high-five? I wondered. No, this felt comforting, her warm hands making me realize how cold my own were.

Another woman grabbed at my waist, slowing me when all I wanted was to keep moving. “I know it’s hard,” she said, “but we need the bottom part.” Then, she ripped off the bottom of my racing bib and with that, they released me to walk off the momentum and adrenaline of finishing my first race.

I started running a little more than two years ago. I’ve logged probably 2000 miles since then. My first runs consisted of sixty seconds of shuffling like an eighty-year old woman interspersed with ninety-minute segments of walking. I recall the first sixty-second shuffle vividly. Ok, time to run, I thought, as the voice from my C25K app directed. I can do this. I look ridiculous. I hate running. “Walk,” the app directed after what seemed an eternity. I walked, then shuffled, then walked again for twenty minutes.

Yesterday, I ran for thirty minutes and 6/100ths of a second without stopping, except to slow down twice for a cup of water from a Cub Scout by the side of the road. I finished second in my age group.

I started blogging at about the same time I started running. Both were things I did because I thought I ought. Running would get me the bone-strengthening impact I’d been missing swimming laps. Blogging would give me a way of exercising my mind while kicking the cobwebs out of my tech savvy. And, both filled the massive amount of time I had on my hands while looking for a teaching job in a crashed economy.

Running and writing have become integral parts of my life, but for some reason, I’m able to be more disciplined in my running. I find it far easier to get my butt—and legs, of course—out the door three times a week than I do to park my butt—and my typing fingers, of course—in front of my computer everyday. OK, that’s not completely true. It’s very easy to park in front of the computer, what’s not so easy is doing it to write.

I’ve read many stories of successful people translating skills learned from one discipline to another, where they also inevitably become successful. I believe it’s possible for me; I believe my running regularity and success should make it easier to develop discipline, and achieve success, in a writing career. But so far, I haven’t done it.

The stakes are much higher for my writing. No one pays me to run and no one is depending on me to be paid when I run. People are depending on me being able to make money writing. My husband wants to retire, my kids will go to college. We need, desperately need, to be out of debt.

And yet, I hesitate.  The thought of cold calling prospects leaves me breathless with anxiety. Writing letters of introduction takes hours of torment and deliberation over every word. Networking events? Weeks of self-pep-talking to get me there.

I know the answer is going to be something like a C25K program for writers. I could even say I’ve stalled because I’m not good at inching toward a goal; this weekend proved that isn’t true.

When I watch basketball and my favorite team is behind by 20 points, I wish for the 20-point shot. But, there is no 20-point shot, not in basketball, running or writing. I’m going to have to start writing professionally the way I did running,  sixty seconds of shuffling at a time.


Yesterday was the second anniversary of starting my blog. I’ve gone from approximately 45 readers to nearly 300 since then and I thank you all for your loyal support.


19 Responses to “Running, Writing and the 20-point Shot”

  1. SocietyRed October 1, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Nice job on the race and happy anniversary! You don’t need a 20 pointer for your writing, you have excellent 3 point skills 🙂

    • jmlindy422 October 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Aw, thanks! Still, wouldn’t the 20-point shot be nice?!

  2. Dinnerversions October 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    See, now this is why I have you on my list of ‘Blogs That Make Me Laugh or Inspire Me’ because you’ve succeeded in doing both today. I am a novice runner (walking > running) AND novice blogger. You’re in a transitional place right now but I have no doubt that good things are in store for you. Happy Anniversary!

    • jmlindy422 October 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks so much! And you inspire me to believe that there is hope for my children’s nutritional needs. Gonna have to check out your blog list again.

  3. philosophermouseofthehedge October 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Running and writing go so well together. Although I just walk really really fast now, motion does make a difference…and the important thing is to just keep moving. You’ll be fine – (oh, do you read Roxie’s bog? Lots of good realistic help on the business of writing. Multiple business oriented series. Here’s one:

    • jmlindy422 October 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Thanks for the tip. I will definitely check this out.

  4. kelloggs77 October 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    There are a lot of writers out there who know where you are coming from. Count me on that list. I just read a book called “You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).” It’s a quick read and definitely helped nudge me in the right direction toward what I need to be working for…and more importantly, helped put me in the right frame of mind. Check it out!

    • jmlindy422 October 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      I love the title! I’ll check it out. Thanks for reminding me that even great writers go through the anxiety and paralysis.

  5. Beverly October 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Congrats on your blogiversary! I need to get off my butt and post to my blog. I was doing great until I went back to school, the kids went back to school, and my work schedule changed… yadda, yadda, yadda. Lots of things to write about, just no energy to do it. You are an inspiration. 🙂

  6. The Waiting October 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    We are on the same wavelength (yet again) today. I was just thinking about how I need to get off my butt and start figuring out ways that I can make money off my writing, even if it’s just writing lame copy for ads or something. I owe it to myself and my family to pay off the ridiculous amount of money I still owe on my student loans. We’ll both get there, but it will take some doing, eh?

    • jmlindy422 October 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      I wish I was able to write lame ad copy! I have some friends who do and I’m in awe. I think I’ll be ok with longer form, public relations type stuff. Actually, the commercial work pays LOTS better.

      Yes, we’ll get there and it’s good to have you here on our wavelength.

  7. Karin Evans October 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Janice, I think that right now Robin Sheerer would remind you that WRITING and BUILDING YOUR WRITING BUSINESS are really different functions. To have a writing business, you have to do both, but they take different kinds of skills and different motivations. (You know all this.) The stuff you need the C25K program for isn’t the writing itself – it’s selling your writing business. I’m not saying that writing is easy – but you’re already very good at it.

    I also know you well enough to know that you can handle yourself perfectly at any networking event, you can write any letter of introduction, and there is no query letter you can’t figure out an angle for. But what your post here reveals is the internal struggle to put yourself out there. When you have a solo business, you are constantly putting yourself on the market, and everything is extremely personal. That makes it deeply hard for most normal people (except for mutant egomaniacs, but I can’t stand them, so I don’t know any – at least not anymore, hahahah). I completely identify with this particular struggle, and I took a sharp turn away from it myself. But I’ll bet there are some C25K programs that really could help you build your writing business. (You could ask Robin for ideas – did you know she just published a new book? The title is Thrive, look it up.)

    I can’t wait to read your future best-selling book. xoxox

    • jmlindy422 October 2, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Yes, the building my writing business is a stop and start thing. I have all the knowledge to do it but the putting it into action is troublesome. In addition to the internal struggles, there is the need to be a webmaster, accountant, etc., etc., etc.

      Re: the book. I’ve decided to spend NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as NaNonWriMo (National Nonfiction Writing Month). I’m spending this month finishing my website, organizing the book and shuffle-stepping the marketing. You’d think it would be easier with my marketing background, but there you are.

      I have identified a number of resources for the C25K writing business, but will check out Robin’s book.

  8. Jeff Curto October 2, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    A quick note about using the social networking world to build your readership (and increase your options of being paid to write).

    I learned of your (great) blog through a Facebook post by mutual FB friend Karin Evans. She (correctly) linked to your FB profile in her post. I went to your profile and, for the life of me, couldn’t find anything that linked me to your blog. A Google search for your name and “blog” got me here, but it shouldn’t have been that hard.

    Similarly, there’s no link here on your blog to your Facebook page. Nor is there a link to your Snide Reply Facebook fan page. It’s pretty easy to connect the them all together and even easier to have your blog posts post automatically to your FB presences.

    I’m not saying that this is the end-all-be-all solution to the problem of “marketing your writing” but the more people who are reading you, the better your shot will be.

    • jmlindy422 October 2, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Thank you so much for the advice. Will think about this some more, but I purposely don’t link to my personal Facebook page because I write about my family in my blog and want to respect their privacy, particularly that of my kids. I had the Snide Facebook fan page for a while, but didn’t really know how to not link it to my personal stuff. I am very protective of my kids, as you can tell. So, it appears the solution is to get back into that Snide Facebook page and make sure it isn’t linked to my personal stuff. Does that sound about right? I know it won’t be an end-all solution, but it’s definitely one of the things I need to do. Social media marketing is all of those little things put together, isn’t it?

  9. Le Clown October 3, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Happy 2nd anniversary! Two years already? Holy crap. That makes me a very young readers of yours. I like to be young. Let’s pretend I’m 8. There.
    Le Clown

    • jmlindy422 October 3, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      No matter how old you get, I will always be older, so you can always be young! I like pretending you’re 8. Eight-year-olds are terrific.

  10. Jeff Curto October 3, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I understand the desire to keep things separate (though I’d also note that a Google search on your name ends up finding both your FB presence and your blog presence… you can’t hide from “The Google”). In other words, if you’re writing about your family in your blog, it’s reasonably likely that anyone who wants to figure out that this person is in your family isn’t going to have to stretch very far to get to that conclusion.

    I could be wrong about the way you are looking at this, but if you’re writing about your family “out in the open” on your blog, you are referencing your family in public and anyone who knows you will know that, whether they are connected to you on Facebook or not. There are tools on FB to allow you to set various privacy levels for posts that you make so that certain things are available to only your closest family members and friends and other things are visible by the public.

    Regardless of that, there is an easy way to have your blog posts appear directly – and automatically – on either your personal FB page or your FB blog page (or both).

    You give it the URL for your blog and it will feed that info to FB. You can also have it feed new blog posts to Twitter, as well.

    At a minimum, I’d suggest getting your FB fan page linked to your blog and vice-versa and getting your blog readers to “Like” your FB page so that you might start to cross-pollinate those readers.

    Essentially, there are lots of tools out there that allow you to link one social media outlet to the next so that, in the end, you don’t have to do any “work” in terms of getting your content to different venues. And… as you note…. that interconnectedness is what the whole world of social media networking is all about.

    I’ll note that I’m not an expert on any of this stuff, but I’ve been podcasting for 7 years and have looked at a wide variety of ways to extend the audience for my podcasts… I’ve got it set up now so that all I have to do is publish a podcast and it automatically posts to FB, Twitter and LinkedIn. Any Twitter posts that I make automatically post to FB, too.

    I hope you don’t think I’m being too preachy here, but I saw your most recent blog post as a lamentation about the difference between the joy of writing and the trials of getting paid to do the thing you love. As a photographer with a 35-year career in the medium, I “get it” exactly. The neat part is that in today’s world, we have ways to push our work out there without the encumbrances of traditional publishing. You’re doing it, I’m doing it….. everyone’s doing it. The key is to figure out how to make your own voice at least a little bit louder than the other folks out there so you can be heard.

    • jmlindy422 October 3, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      Not too preachy at all, but a LOT to digest. Add to that the utter frustration of trying to build a website through WordPress not being a website designer. I should link up with someone who needs writing and exchange services, but I’ve done it in the past and it was extremely unsatisfying. Will re-read your very thoughtful and helpful post.

      Re: my family. My last name is different. I don’t reference their names, first or last, so the only way you can figure out who they are is by going through Facebook and doing the math. I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that if I linked my Facebook page to my blog, that people could very easily find my son and probably my daughter. I have publicized my blog on Facebook, but that’s not the same thing, is it?

      As I said, I’ll digest this further and, again, thanks.

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