Tag Archives: Beaver Island


7 Nov

In my sophomore year of high school I joined the cross-country team. Did I need to lose weight? Nope. Did I consider myself a long distance all-star? Nope. “Then why do you want to join the team?” asked Marv, the beloved teddy bear/coach.

“I want to get involved after school,” I said.

“You got skinny legs kid,” he said, “But we’ll turn you into a runner. It’s all about endurance.”

Marv never told a lie. This was a guy who daily sported a track suit only to hit up the Burger King drive thru before threatening to rear end us with his Buick “war wagon.” Though, he knew the importance of endurance.

Though it wasn’t till recently I learned that it also applied to writing. While countless souls may doodle in their notebook and speak about their “novel,” are they writing it? More importantly, how often and for how long?

Though I eventually moved from sporadic attempts to habitual weekly and now daily writing. I was writing often, but I noticed something was lacking. Endurance.

Someone noticed this void back in 1996. It was Marv as he dipped his french-fries in barbeque sauce. It may have something to do with my inability to focus. I’ve conveniently convinced myself I have ADHD. I’m not asking for Ritalin, I’m just labeling the obvious. Luckily, being born in 1981 meant I was a few years shy of being drugged. However, I’m thankful for my hyperactivity as it easily spawns the crazy ideas.

But what are ideas? They’re just a rain less cloud. Some ideas may require only a page or two of scribbling, but when I ready myself to write a novel, I’m doomed.

Writing endurance can be measured by the minute you stop typing, and subconsciously look for a diversion. Maybe you grab a soda, check your e-mail, or cut your friend’s toenails. You’re allowed to blow your nose, that doesn’t count.

Let’s go back to my first practice with endurance when Marv was my master and I his apprentice.

“Go out there and run kid,” he said.

“How long coach?” I asked.

“Just run,” he said, “When you get tired, stop. When you’re ready, run again. I’ll let you know when it’s time to go home.”

I can’t say I pushed myself though I certainly struggled through my elected four half-mile sets. The next day, my Dad had to rent a forklift to get me out of bed. “How can I possibly run anymore?” I thought.

It was possible. Within a month, I was running the gauntlet. Five to 10 miles a day, and every Thursday I’d trek up and down ski slopes. Never once did I stop. No one would noticed as I was always second to last. I will always cherish Marv for allowing anyone to join the squad. I never won a race, but I crossed the finish line.

Now if a writer wants to close the curtains on a screenplay, novel, or even an article. They need to develop their endurance.

Previously, I clocked my endurance at one page. Though recently, including this very piece, I’m nearing page three and I have yet to slow down. This is what it takes to succeed. A writer needs to simply write. The longer you condition yourself to write, not only will you have more to show for, you’re also be naturally transitioning your pieces over complex plot lines. How can an ensemble cast in a short story seamlessly mingle together when you stop after each page? It’s best to just gun it out. After time, writing won’t seem as such an obstacle. And if you push yourself a little further, you may even win something.

I’ve been conditioning myself for just the past three days, and my endurance has already improved to roughly 4 pages, or 1,000 words. Just work on strengthening your ability to write without stopping. No e-mails, no trips to the refrigerator, just keep typing/penning away!

Moving along, most runners look back at the race, and think, “I could have done better.” Which is why I suppose some were happy when they threw up. This was proof they tried hard. Once the race is finished, there’s no going back.

But with writing, we can. This is where editing comes into play. I never can go back to Beaver Island state park and improve my time. But I can revise this piece. Do you think this is the original copy of this piece? Nah. In fact, I only kept these lines to prove the point. This baby has been conditioned to the core.

No one can coach you there. It’s up to you. It’s not like Marv is going to crash the war wagon into your workroom if you decide to watch Hanna-Barbera cartoons on youtube. So be your own coach and build up that endurance.

What should you write? Anything. If possible, just work on a blog entry each day. When do you stop writing? When the piece is finished. You’ll know when to stop.

Don’t even think about editing. Allow your heart to distance itself from the piece. Then when your critical owls can grab each word with their menacing talons, let the editing commence. For now it’s time to celebrate, play the ‘Superman’ theme song, quench your thirst, or go next door to cut Ms. Glasgow’s toes.

In no time, you’ll be churning out manuscripts faster than Harry Potter books out of China. By the way…I wrote this piece while in a warm-up suit rocking some Burger King.

For help with endurance participate in NANOWRIMO or the Picture Book Marathon.