Daily Archives: June 10, 2008

Reading, Writing, Running

Two writers. Two runners. Two quotes.

Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate – and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself? I know that if I hadn’t become a long-distance runner when I became a novelist, my work would have been vastly different.

From an edited extract of Haruki Murakami’s forthcoming memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (via Chasing Ray).

Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think what it might be. In running the mind flies with the body; the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms. Ideally, the runner who’s a writer is running through the land- and cityscapes of her fiction, like a ghost in a real setting.

From “To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet,” by Joyce Carol Oates.

I was never involved in anything athletic till around 1980 when a friend talked me into training for a 10K with her; the experience was so exhilarating that I have been running (with the occasional time off for injuries) ever since. For a few years I was pretty obsessed. I joined a track club and seriously trained for marathons, half marathons, track meets — I did them all and even have a few trophies for placing in my age group. After a few years and a few injuries I withdrew from competition, but kept running for myself. Daily if possible.

And running is glorious for me. It is when I brood. Imagine. Create. Contemplate. Dream. Even these days when I often listen to books while running. But not always. It depends. When I have something on my mind, a good run is the best place for me to work it out. Many are the memos and emails that I have written while running and not sent. Whole speeches have been developed as I jogged along the Hudson; tricky articles have suddenly become clear as I passed the dog run. My run is the best place for me to sort out difficult situations at school. It is where I get my ideas. (Note to self: when I’m a famous writer and doing school visits, tell them that!)

Does anyone else find running or something similar helping them this way?

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