Tag Archives: beginner writing

Day 26–The Elements of Style


If you are new to this blog, and want to use it to it’s fullest potential, I suggest you start at Day 1 and continue on from there. Or keep on reading.

Rules

Good writing does have rules. And for the beginner the rules can be a bit intimidating. Even though most of us have grown up writing, it doesn’t mean that we’ve ever had to worry about the rules of writing.

As a writer you are the master of your craft, so lets say there are no rules, only suggestions. I great place to start for writing suggestions is a book by, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

This book is less than a 100 pages and has everything a writer needs to start learning proper syntax and grammar.

The Boston Globe said-“No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little  volume.”

It’s true the book is small, practically pocket-size, but it carries valuable information for any writer.

The book covers the Elementary Rules of Usage and Composition. I particularly like the section on An Approach to Style, it is a list of reminders and suggestions, not rules.

A few of these reminders are:

  • Place yourself in the background
  • Write with nouns and verbs
  • Do not overwrite
  • Avoid fancy words
  • Be clear
  • Prefer the standard to the offbeat

I highly recommend this tight easy read to any writer. You can pick up a copy for less than 10 bucks, and that’s a pretty affordable writing class.

It will affect your writing for the good.

Writing Prompt–Pick up a copy of The Elements of  Style, and then take your last piece of writing and edit it with this book.

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Day 23–Starting in the Dark


Many new runners don’t want to be seen by anyone as they struggle through their first weeks or months of running. They are self-conscious about the way they look. Some runners may feel this way for months or even years.

The same can be said for writers, especially newer writers. They feel self-conscious about their writing. They keep it in obscurity, and may not even mention their love for writing to friends and family .

This self-consciousness causes many writers and runners to start in the dark.

Waking up before the sun illuminates the streets, runners hit the roads, hoping to not be seen or noticed by anyone. Writers burn out bulbs as they stay up late into the night ruminating and writing.

Why do  many runners and writers start in the dark, and continue in this obscurity for years?

Some  feel they cannot really call themselves writers or runners until they have accomplished something. Like published an article or run a race.

If you write everyday or run everyday, start calling yourself a runner or writer today. And don’t be scared to share this with friends and family. You are the one who decides whether you will be called a runner or writer.

Another reason many choose to keep their writing and running hidden is because of form.

This is understandable. A new writer’s form may be a mess, just as a green runner or veteran runner’s form may be very sloppy. The newbie may be waiting until they’ve perfected their form to share their hobby with others.

There is no Perfect Form. The most seasoned writer may have the most awkward prose, but he/she is still a writer.

A finisher of 100’s of marathons might run like a snake with legs, but this person is still a runner.

Writing and running in the dark is fine, but to share your love of running and writing with others can get you into the sun.

And remember the sun is what keeps us alive.

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Day 22–You need to do, what you don’t want to do, to do what you want to do.


Yesterday, besides waking up to not enough coffee, we also had no electricity and no water, this is part of living in a third-world country. So I can’t complain.

I had a 14 mile training run in the schedule and by the time I could get out to do it, it was already 11 in the morning, and the sun was high in the sky, throwing down blasts of heat. Because of this, I was trying to find a way out of the run.

I did not want to go on the run!

I couldn’t push it off to the next day because it was the last day of the week. I tried to rationalize why I should just do half the mileage, a nice 7 mile cruise, I did have a sore calve muscle, not bad enough to make the run shorter.  I could not cook up a good reason.

After circles of rationalization, I left for the run. Still, in the back of my mind I was thinking if I want to, I can still cut it short.

I got out on the trails and never looked back. After 2 miles I was in reflection mode and thoroughly enjoying the time to ruminate on goals, the nature surrounding me and what I wanted to accomplish when I got back.

I was doing what I wanted to do-Run.

So I thought I didn’t want to run, but this soon changed after I got going. I think this is a common occurrence for endurance athletes and writers.

There are times when you do not want to sit down and create a world on paper. You say:

I do not want to write!

In spite of this sentiment, you sit down and start writing. After a paragraph or page, you are writing and you are doing what you want to do-write.

What I get from this is that for some reason our minds play tricks on us. They want the easy way out. What would be easier than writing or running? Watching TV, drinking coffee, chilling on the deck in the sun, all kinds of things. But, once we get going we find that we are doing what we want to do.

The trick is knowing ahead of time what you actually want to do.

So decide what you want to do now.  And when the time comes to do it-Just start.

The first steps and first words may feel forced, but after a mile or paragraph you will find that,

you had to do, what you didn’t want to do, to do what you wanted to do.

Running Prompt-Do a run you’ve been dreading-Speedwork, long run or tough trail run.

Writing Prompt-Write in a form that does not come easy for you-a poem, essay or fiction.

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Day 13–Write, Run, Write–Prompt


Last night my wife and I watched Julie & Julia for the second time. Any bloggers out there who have not seen this film, I highly suggest it , since it centers around a blogger. I highly recommend it to anyone. The first time I watched it I wasn’t blogging, so this time I came away with some inspiration and personal application.

What I would like to focus on is how Julie did something, and then she wrote about it. She would cook and then she would write about the adventure. As writers we at times face the dilemma of not knowing what to write about. As shown by this movie, the best way to get around this dilemma is to do something, and then write about it.

Since this blog is for runners and writers alike, let’s focus on writing born from running. Many writers are runners, and I think this is because getting out on a run gets you motivated. To borrow the comment of a reader, you feel like you can conquer the world when you return from a run. So if a run helps feel as if we can conquer the world, then it definitely will give us the confidence to write.

If you don’t do this already try it out. Sit down with pencil and paper, pen and pad or laptop and blank screen. Write something down, like a title, subject,  or sentence, even just a word will do. Then take that title or subject and go for a run. Whatever that piece of writing is, go for a run with it. You will find that by the end of the run you will know that subject on a more intimate level, and will not be able to wait to sit and write about it.

It helps bring sandwich bag with an index card and pen. I do this so I can write down key words or ideas while on the run.

In Julie & Julia the act of creating or cooking helped prompt the creation of writing. The main character wanted to write, but she needed a push. Cooking was her push. So if you want to write but you’re not writing, give yourself a push with a run.

Once you see the results of the run, it will motivate you to run the next day, and write the next day and then run again. You will have created a cycle that  will benefit your writing and running.

Let me know if it works.

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Day 7–Birds of a feather Run together


I once heard someone say, “If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’re bound to get your hair cut.”

I also think it’s safe to say,  if you hang around runner’s long enough, you’re bound to run.

Some of us might just happen to be surrounded by runner friends, but the majority of beginning runners don’t have this luxury. So what do you do if you don’t know a single runner? Start by getting to know some. You may have friends or acquaintances who run, and you don’t even know it. Once you start talking about your running, you’ll find that word spreads and other runners will find you.

But, what if you literally are the only runner in town. Then, how do you get inspired and learn from other runners? One good way is to check out some running forums. These are sites where you can find out what is going on in the running world, ask questions and find information on practically any running topic.

Here are a couple to check out:

RUNNERS WORLD FORUM

UK RUNNERS FORUM

LETS RUN FORUM

COOLRUNNING FORUM

BACKCOUNTRY RUNNER-trail running forum

ULTRAMARATHON RUNNING FORUM

Forums are a good place to start flocking together with other runners. In upcoming posts I will cover more ways to be inspired by other runners.

Writers can also benefit from fellow writer association, but if you think it’s hard to find a runner, try finding a writer. Sure there are millions of them, but if you don’t live in the right town, finding writing peers will be a challenge.

So what’s an aspiring writer to do?

Ways to flock together with other writers:

If you want to run everyday, and write everyday. Or maybe run and write everyday, please check out the intro for this blog. Start reading and you will be on track to a running/writing streak.

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