Hiking = Writing

Yesterday, Sunday, TMOTH and I took my daughter, son, and Labrador Retriever for a hike at a nearby lake.

A photo from a trail I frequent… yes, this *is* Kansas!

Upon reflection, I learned a lot on that hike… about writing.

The trail we chose started out flat, across grass in a wide-open field. As we approached the woods, it got muddy, then rocky, and had a steep slope down to the lake. Once on the shore, we trudged over driftwood, rocks, and, again, mud until we decided to turn around and head back the way we came.

The flat, open part of the hike reminded me of how I usually start out on a writing project: good initial progress, seeing a portion of where I’m going, but not clearly the whole trail (even when I’ve outlined.) I usually hit some point where I’ve got a good feel for where I’m headed, but the writing gets rocky, and I slow down, carefully finding my next step.

Then, I get to the middle. Fits and starts, I’ll progress in quick bursts, then find something I have to climb over, go under, or around. (In the actual hike yesterday, this was difficult since my son was in a carrier, pulling me off balance!) My daughter taught me a few things in this portion, as she forced us to take breaks (allowing for reflection, possible changes, or redirection in my writing analogy) and look at bobbers, shells, rocks, or throwing sticks and stones into the water.

Sometimes, in these sections of my writing, I get hurt, as I did on the hike (it wasn’t bad–a scrape on my shin when my foot slipped as I was climbing over a large, fallen tree.) I have to backtrack, rethink what I’m doing. Often, these instances happen when I’m editing. On my most recent edit of Homebody, I had several major changes, some of which I’m still tweaking. When I started writing this story, now going on five years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined some of these types of twists in my story.

On the way back up the hill, I’m starting to pick up steam. While I’m watching my footing carefully, I know I’m headed for the climax: I’m about to write “The End” soon. I may have to take a breather now and again–after all, it is a steep climb!–I’m moving steadily upward, and know how far I’ve got to go.

Then, I crest that hill.

I can see the end!

For me, this is often the fastest part of the hike–and the writing. Renewed energy hits. Frequently, I can write a 30 or 40 page section in first draft mode in a single evening, especially the closer to the climax I get.

Then I reach the car–or write my last lines. Relief! My characters are out of danger, my feet can rest (and I can get another cool bottle of water from the cooler and turn on the A/C!)

Do you have a favorite analogy on how you write? How has that taught you about your writing?

Also, I want to extend my hearty congratulations to Linda Yezak, who guest posted for me last summer, on the publication of her debut novel, Give the Lady a Ride. I can’t wait to get it (hopefully on my Kindle!) and read it!

Until next time,

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2 thoughts on “Hiking = Writing

  1. I box, so I love to think about writing as being like a fight. Stepping in the ring, over coming fears, settling into the fight, setting your opponent up and being consistent round after round. Then hopefully coming away with the win.

    For me writing is all about over coming fears, stepping up to the computer, settling into the story, setting up the plot, playoffs and twists and being consistent until the end of the book. Hopefully after much work, you come away with a win 🙂

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  2. I like that analogy! 🙂 I'm not a boxer, barely can sit through the “Rocky” movies, but I can see where you're coming from.

    Until I met my husband, I wasn't a hiker. Now, I love it. 🙂 Most of the time. Not too fond of it in really high altitudes when I haven't adjusted, when it's bitterly cold, or when it's really hot and humid. At least the first two, I can do things to adjust. The third, I'd rather be inside A/C with my laptop.

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