The Last Few Miles

When I started my gap year in January (call it a sabbatical if you want to be fancy), I went through the first weeks with the help of The Artist's Way. One of Julie Cameron's first recommendations is to write three longhand "morning pages" every day. I miss a few days here and there, but I've found the exercise immensely helpful as I alternately slog and fly my way through this first manuscript.

Today I found myself creating a metaphor for where I am in the process. I've run marathons and you quickly learn your mental state through the miles and what to watch out for. Is it possible writing is the same? No race is ever the same, as I imagine no novel ever is. But boy do I feel the same as if I'm nearing the end of a qualifier marathon. It's that first necessary step in making it to the big leagues of the Boston Marathon.

I hit a second "wall" about mile 18 of a 26.2 mile marathon. It takes a mile, maybe two, to push past it and then you're in the final stretch. This is where it starts really playing games with you. You know you'll finish at this point. Then you hear the cheers as you pull closer to the finish line. But wait! It's a trap. Don't start running faster because there are miles left to go. Sometimes at this point in the race I get overwhelmingly bored and I just want it to be over.

I feel this way about the book at the moment. The end is in sight. I'll be that much closer to the big race. I'm already thinking about the additional training (revisions) I need to work on. I'm dreaming about a big finish in Boston (New York book launch). What I don't want to dwell on are these last few miles (~10K words). I know they won't take long. I know I will get there. But my focus is on the future, not the present.

Time for a reframe. Time to get back to real time and do the work here, the only place it matters. What helps you get back to the present when you find yourself dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future?