As a former marathoner and now a writer I can say, "Seriously, long distance running and writing have a lot of commonalities."
You can't train for a marathon in one day
It takes a long world view to succeed as a long distance runner. It's the same with writers, authors and novelists. Don't go into writing thinking that you'll train for a week and then write a best seller. It's kind of a dangerous environment for indie authors. Traditional publishers, agents and editors used to work as gatekeepers, which can be both positive or negative. Negative for writers who have submitted ten, fifty or even one-hundred manuscripts out to multiple publishers. Many authors got the manuscript back with a big "Rejected" written across the face of the manuscript. But then they put in the work to edit and get reader feedback and send it out again. They took classes, read books and went to conferences. They did the work over a long period of time honing their writing craft and learning how to create a book that publishers and readers wanted to read. The positive to the gatekeepers were the writers became better writers.
Today's indie authors don't have those gatekeepers telling them, "this far and no further." They find a cheap editor or have a family mmember edit their manuscript and slap a cover on it and send it to Amazon and other retailers. "Boom, look I'm published," they exclaim. That's the same as a runner thinking that running around the block a few times makes them a long distance runner, instead of putting in miles and miles of practice runs.
Today's feelings don't help you perform.
You have to work through your "feelings." I won't lie, as a long-distance runner, there were many days I wanted to say, "No More Running." I don't feel like running today. It doesn't matter, you have to push through your feelings. Writers need to sit down at the keyboard and put in the practice. It's a discipline that is hard to achieve but makes a difference whether you'll reach your writing goals.
I was reading Nora Roberts Land from the Dare Valley Series this past week when I was on vacation, and I saw something that every novelist should consider in their stories.
It's a romance story / mystery. College age students are going to parties and getting sick and soon a couple of students die in what appear to be natural causes. But that isn't the story. Like I said, it's a romance and that is where the importance of misdirection and misunderstanding comes in.
What do I mean by misdirection and misunderstanding?
I was reading Robert B Parker's novel, Back Story, the other day and I ran across three terrific lines in the story. These lines were so good at painting a picture that I had to stop and write them down. Now, I don't want you to copy these lines and put them in your next novel. No, I want you to study the lines and see if you can add that type of description in your own novel.
What does this line make you see, feel or experience? Does it bring back memories in some way, either good memories or bad memories?
It was bright outside, and the sun was making long parallelograms on my floor.
Wow, can you feel the brilliance of that line? It tells me a couple of things. The sun is shining, duh, but it's also either late afternoon or winter. Late afternoon, the sun could be shining in a west facing window. I suppose it can be early morning coming in an east window. But it could be winter time and the sun is low in the sky coming in a south window. Does the sun warm the room? The sun could be adding tension to the room, if the person is in prison, or being held hostage and there is a time limit for when a deal has to go down.
This line took me back to a building I used to work in a couple of years ago. There were a number of windows that allowed light to make long bright rectangles across the floor.
Then a few paragraphs later someone walked through the room and Robert B Parker wrote,