I am probably more excited than I should be for the chance tomorrow (and Monday!) to have the day off work thanks to Fall Break, and spend as much of it as I can writing in my home office. I am looking forward to comfy pants (it’s all about the small pleasures!), a pot of green tea, and just me and my MacBook Air (and all our furry critters who like to hang out with me when I’m home).

I have done an insane amount of grading this week and an insane amount of meeting with desperate students. On Tuesday I got into work at 7:30 and worked until 3:30. Then I changed into my running clothes and pounded out three miles until it was time to pick up my daughter from her after school activity. I needed to put some serious distance between me and all those student exams. My goal had been to get close to all the grading done so I could steal some writing time Wednesday morning and Thursday, in preparation for Friday’s marathon work session at home. I try and always follow that sound writing advice I came across somewhere that you should always stop for the day when you are on a roll, because then it will be easier to pick up where you left off. If you stop when you are blocked, you will waste so much time the next writing session trying to work through that impasse. So I wrote until I could stick a mental bookmark in the spot, and then when I ran today I sorted out some things in my head. I think I’ll be ready tomorrow to dive back into it. I can write at work, but it never feels completely comfortable to me. I’m looking forward to having my own space around me tomorrow.

I was telling a good friend who called me today that I think running has made me a more disciplined writer. Running has taught me about pushing through walls (and pain), about the importance of training, and about making goals for myself. I love what Susan Dennard has to say about the importance of routine when it comes to writing, and training for a race involves that same focus on routine. I do my long weekly runs on Saturday morning, and my body is used to that. On the occasions that I’ve had to switch a long run to a Sunday, for example, my body always takes a little more time to warm up to that change. Writing a book is pretty similar to running a long race, except in a race you might get a medal, and when you write you get to weave a story, and end up with this wonderful collection of characters at the end of it.

When I run, all the loose ends and problems I couldn’t solve during a writing session often get worked out in my head. It’s like I have a giant Connect Four game in my head and the ideas and characters are colored tokens. Running helps them slide into the right slots, so everything gets sorted out. For me, a huge part of writing is having the time in my head to work things out.

Today I ran the greenway near my daughter’s school and crossed a road to run past another elementary school. On my way back I heard kids calling to me from the fence at the top of a small hill. The hill was covered in ivy and brambles, but someone had thrown a football over the fence and they wanted it back. There was a row of kids standing on the other side of the fence — about five boys, and two girls. When I retrieved the ball I held it up but of course they all wanted it. I made a conscious decision to throw it to the girl closest to me. Her eyes lit up when she caught the ball and she took off like lightning with the ball tucked under her arm. Girl power!

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