Our Writerly Roundup blog series features a curated collection of articles on the craft of writing and the creative life that we don’t want you to miss.
On Running & Writing, Elizabeth Templeton, Brevity
When I make time for a run in the morning, I find my writing has a natural flow. Running offers automatic mental clarity to push forward through a difficult piece of writing. Elizabeth Templeton talks about her connection with running and how it fuels her writing:
All these years later, when I run alone, I am most always writing in my mind. Words tumble upon one another. Sometimes, eager to hold them, I squeeze too hard and they shatter— letters spilling and meanings dissipating. Other times, I pull and stretch, and the thinking between the words snap—taut line of meaning recoiling into a disappointing heap of flaccid words. The struggle of coherence against fragmentation is one more connection between these two activities. It seems not so much the images or the imagination, but rather, the act of writing itself that wrings coherence out of experience.
There is a symbiotic relationship that forms between writing and running:
As I push myself toward new challenges in writing, these connections I surface between running and writing buoy my spirits. Both activities lend a certain fluid grace to my day-to-day life. Both begin awkwardly, all physical and mechanical, and move me toward the emotional, sometimes even the spiritual. Both are hard, occasionally painful—but imagining life without them is harder still.
Ultimately, Templeton points to the significance running and writing has for her life. She says:
In old wallets, notebooks, packs, I find scraps of paper recording, in cryptic abbreviations, dates and mileage, times and routes, states of mind or body. Route names summon stages along the way to adulthood. A phrase will stir another association: of solitude, or the spark of competition. Now stashed in an envelope in my desk drawer, running logs extend back over forty years, and thousands of miles of this continent; evidence of my continuity, and of my mortality.
I always have an option to stop or keep going. The running helps me move forward on the road and the page.
Many of you are nearing the end of National Novel Writing Month. It is a daunting task and Amy Brady asked various writers about their perspective on writing. Her specific question — What is one short piece of advice they would give the novice writer? T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls says:
Lean into your strengths and what you notice, not what you think will “impress” most. When I stopped trying to be the most heady with the most impressive vocab and instead leaned into describing feelings (I’m deeply feeling!) my work became real.
Aaron Gilbreath of Everything We Don’t Know pushes writers
Write frequently to build your muscles, and let yourself make messes, bc messes let you explore, make discoveries, connections, see what you think. Revision is for beauty and structure and clarity. Drafting is for discovery.
Christine Flanagan, author of The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon says:
Everybody writes just one sentence at a time. Each sentence is another brick. Just keep stacking them up.
I highlighted a few writers in this space, but the article is worth reading in its entirety. There are nuggets of wisdom about the writing life from editors, writers, and academics.
The Most Anticipated Books of 2020, Ashley Johnson, She Reads
Who can resist a good list of book recommendations for 2020? See which book you want to read next year in this list complied by Ashley Johnson.
Have you read a compelling article about craft or the creative life that you think should appear in the next Writerly Roundup? Please send links to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com—we’d love to hear your input!