For Memorial Day some friends of ours went with me and my husband on a 5K Mud Run (er, walk). And what a reality check this 5K mud run/walk really was for me. I go walking almost three miles everyday--pushing my two kids (30lbs each) in a double stroller--so I thought it would be no problem.
After standing in the relentless AZ heat for almost an hour just waiting for our start time, I was a little dehydrated. But still totally pumped. We finally got in line for our turn, counted down from ten, and we were off to a great start.
Until about 100 meters in, I got a side ache. I mean, come on! I knew it was going to be a loooong race after that. (In my defense, I had told my team that I was going to be the weak link. I think they thought I was exaggerating. I was not.)
But, I pushed on, mostly because I was trying to impress my husband--yes, married almost seven years, still trying to trick him into believing that I'm semi-athletic (failing miserably, by the way). All of a sudden everyone was running toward us, yelling that we were all going the wrong way. So we had to turn around, run the quarterish mile to get back on course, then continued. At this point, it turned into a mud walk for me, my pride going out the window when I realized my breakfast was going to be apart of the obstacles for the runners behind me if I kept pushing myself. I even considered stopping, because so far, this mud run? Not so much MUD as endless dirt and thorny shrubs (that I brushed against and got thorns in my legs. Fun times)
About a mile in, we had a water station, then a hose down, then a bouncy house slip and slide, then another water station. And I was a new woman. I could actually jog after getting wet and having some much needed water. They should have had some of those things in the first mile, instead of just having us run in dry dirt in the hot sun, nothing to break it up.
So, as usual, this made me think about my writing. I started out strong in this race, lost momentum when we went the wrong way, got discouraged when it was the same thing over and over for the first mile, and even thought about giving up. But I kept pushing myself forward (mostly because of pride, kind of because I'd paid a lot of money to torture myself like this) and once I got hydrated, ended up having so much fun that I'm going to do it again in September.
Like with our writing, sometimes we lose momentum, hate our beginnings, don't know where we're going, don't know why we're even torturing ourselves like this anyway--no one is making us write and submit and get rejected over and over again--but then you get to that point where it is just fun. Maybe you have to slow down a bit to make it enjoyable again, or maybe you have to just go crazy with your plot and characters and remember that above all, writing is supposed to be FUN or enjoyable or fulfilling. That the more we write, the better we get at it, and when we take a wrong turn, it's not the end of the world, we just have to get back on track.
The point? Don't quit!! Keep pushing yourself forward, remembering why you're writing in the first place, and have fun with it again.