Training Plan

This week we've been discussing the sacrifices we have to make in order to write. What we give up depends upon our priorities. I might be willing to sacrifice TV, but you'd rather give up the softball team instead.

What we sacrifice varies. But so does how much. I've learned that just because we're writers, doesn't mean we're all aiming for the same thing.

Think about athletes, specifically runners. Some are content to run for personal enjoyment and to stay physically fit. Others train for the local 5K run. Some are working more vigorously for a Marathon. And then there are those who are headed for the Olympics.

All of the runners have different goals. But they should share one commonality: a training program. None of the runners can reap the full benefits of their goals (even if only to stay physically fit) without rigorous, consistent, self-disciplined training. We've all exercised and know that when we don't stick to it, we often give up too easily.

So how does this relate to writing? Not all of us are writing for the same reasons. Some are journaling and blogging for personal enjoyment. Others are writing short stories, non-fiction articles, or poetry for publication (the 5K ). Some are content to work on books and platforms geared toward a smaller publishing houses (Marathon). And then many are seeking the big one--traditional publication (Olympics). My analogy isn't perfect. In fact, I think the Marathon and Olympic goals may often overlap.

The point is that every writer needs a consistent training plan, the same as a runner. However, we need to decide what we're striving after first, because that will determine how much we need to sacrifice. An Olympic runner has to work more vigorously and sacrifice more time than a 5K runner. In much the same way, an Olympic bound writer has to have a tougher training plan, set aside longer hours, and give up many other things to write.

So, what kind of writer are you? Are you writing for personal enjoyment, the 5K, a Marathon, or the big time Olympics? Does your training plan reflect where you're headed? If not, what can you do to put in place the kind of consistent training plan that will help you succeed?


  1. Good Morning Jody! I put myself in the Olympic category, although I don't "train" for twelve hours a day! My goals are high and I do devote a lot of time to writing.

    Good luck on your way to your "gold medal"!!

  2. Oh no? A plan? LOL! Hmmm, I think I'm in between marathon and Olympics. I don't care about being a bestseller but I'd like to make a career out of writing, even if I only make 25K a year.

  3. I'm training for the Olympics baby! :) No, seriously, I'm training for anything that would enable me to glorify God. My upmost for his highest! I have a strong desire to share the stories God has given me with a wider audience that my friends and family... hopefully that happens. But if not, I have to just trust God has a reason for it. :)

  4. Wow, Jody, you sure do make me think! Starting out I would have definitely said Olympics, but after a year and having life get in the way, I must be a marathon runner who gets a little lost and off the beaten path every now and then. I need to learn to focus and be disciplined, because that is what true runners are...disciplined! Because there is pain involved in a run like that and you have to push through. Your post hit me like a ton of bricks and it was just what I needed. Thanks, friend!

  5. Oh, this is a tough question because I feel as though I'm training on demand from God. So wherever He takes it, is where I hope my training goes.

    Personally, I'd like to start contributing to the household finances again, but hubby and I are giving that up to God, too. I know I'm called to write these days and so I study the craft and write. When I have a successful day of word count or editing, I feel like I've pleased Him, when I have a bad day, I pray for more help!

    At this point, as long as I keep struggling to do my best, learn and grow in the process, then I know God will take me to where He wants me to go. If I say publication is my goal, then I feel like I'm claiming something that He may not be wanting of me, and I can't do that.

    If only He'd tell us each directly what we're to be striving for as the end goal. Wouldn't that be wonderful! Not sure that it would change my approach much though.

  6. Marathon. And to carry the metaphor a step further, I guess I've been munching on chips and not really training. Although I am still writing (several pages a week), it is going toward specific mini-goals, not the overall marathon. Thanks for the coaching!

  7. Does it count if I say all of the above? Sometimes I'm writing for personal enjoyment (who am I fooling, that's most of the time), sometimes I'm working on a short story, I'm okay to be published by a smaller house and if it's in the Big Man's plan I'll be an Olympic according to what I'm working on, I am training as appropriate.

    And sometimes I'm just lifting my kids over my head to train in other areas of life.
    Fun post. I love it when people make me think!
    ~ Wendy

  8. Wonderful wisdom here Jody! I wish I could have said this:)) It is the training that counts but you are so right--we all write for different reasons.

    I'm not sure where I'm going but far enough to have one good book pubished and I know I will need to do a lot of work to get there.

  9. Fun analogy. I'm writing to, hopefully, add to the good stuff our kids have to read.

  10. the plan is to be in it for the long haul, right? I don't know any aspiring authors who look at their craft as short term. It requires too much sacrifice...the very thing you are talking about :D

  11. I'd like to make it to a Marathon at least, the Olympics definitely! What I've found on this journey is how very much goes into preparing for that ultimate goal, medal, race. It's not just the running (writing), but the diet and rest and exercise and motivation and inspiration and small victories and hard work along the way. Gives me a newfound appreciation for professional athletes, that's for sure.

  12. Jill: I'm sure you train very hard! Hopefully one day we'll both have those Gold Medals! :)

    Jessica: I don't think many of us will ever be the Michael Phelps of the writing industry! Few people are destined to the best seller list! But we can certainly met the goals God has for us!

    Katie: If your training plan is in place for the Olympics (and it sounds like it is!), then you'll make it! You've already gotten confirmation on your talent. Now it's just a matter of time and training!

    Sherrinda: Glad to get you thinking this morning! Life does have a way of getting in the way of our training plan. But fortunately we can always pick up the plan and get going again!

    Eileen: Great point! We do need to know where God is directing us. Are we an Eric Liddel? Does God want us to run hard for his glory? Or is he satisfied with us serving him in smaller ways? Good thoughts!

    Warren: I think we all stop and munch on chips! But even the little goals help us get to where we need to go, right?

    Wendy: I figured someone would blow my analogy! But wherever we're at and whatever writing we're doing, keeping at it and continuing to grow our muscles is what we need!

    Terri: I think I've been realizing this so much more lately! We can't compare with one another because we're all coming at this with different goals!

    lotusgirl: I hope to read something of yours someday!

    Tess: I'm definitely in this for the long haul! But if I wasn't in the Olympic training, then I might not be working quite so hard!

    Joanne: Great extra thoughts! Part of our training definitely needs to include keeping the rest of our life healthy!

  13. Hi Jody -

    Great point! Not only can we use this to tailor make a training plan for ourselves, but it's also something to keep in mind when critiquing.

    I'd put myself in the Olympic category. Ha! Guess I'll have to ratchet up my training program.

    Susan :)

  14. I'm a 5K-er. I think my work habits are pretty sound. I strive to write one story and receive an acceptance each month. So far so good. :-)

  15. Katie took my line! Olympics Baby! LOL Seriously, I so understand what you are talking about. I'm not sure my plan is "formalized" just because I also work a day job and have kiddos WHILE training for the Olympics... and that's a lot to bite off! It means I have even MORE sacrifices than the average Olympic runner.

    It reminds me of Ecclesiastes (I so botched that spelling... I know) "There is a time for everything under the sun" Right now is the time for sacrifice and hard work to train. I completely understand after I am AT the Olympics that it will still be hard work, but my hope is that eventually I'll be able to readjust and get into a rythme that is a little more reasonable.

  16. Definitely want the Olympics, although I'm not sure I agree with the notion that what we're striving for dictates how much we have to sacrifice.

    I go back to what you said in the beginning. "What we sacrifice varies. But so does how much."

    The how much is not only related to our goals, but also to our talents, our training environment (think FT vs. PT writing analogous to professional vs. some other facilities), where we are in the training process, and that X-factor that always comes into play (right place, right person, right time). This is why it's so dangerous to compare one's journey to that of another writer.

    But yes, we must make choices and decide whether our writing is more important than other things that might entertain us for the moment, but maybe not fulfill us in the end.

  17. Ultimately I am training for the Olympics. I get the pleasure of working at marathon level but the stress of training much harder than that! I think once you get to marathon level or just before, the amount of work you have to put in is intense for just about everyone. Whether you're going with a smaller press and writing time overlaps with market planning time, or you're achieving Olympic level and there are more serious deadlines and expectations. That said, those in love with writing (no matter what level of training) make sacrifices but also get the joy of doing something they love. Perhaps then the sacrifices don't seem to huge when we can see the outcome.

  18. Wow, Jody, this is a great post! I think I'm probably shooting for the Olympics. :-) I want to be published by a major publishing house, though really, I don't care if I make it on the NYTimes bestselling list - just as long as I can maintain a steady career.

  19. Your post was great! You must have been, in spirit, on my sabbatical with me, because I share these thoughts. I'm reworking my training schedule now and have discovered that I don't need to be following everyone elses, but find one that works just right for me! Thanks for the affirmation that I'm on track!

  20. Great analogy. And much like any athlete training for the Olympics (though I'm not in the least athletic...I'm grinning as I even contemplate comparing myself to a world-class athlete) I'm willing to work, to learn, to listen to instruction from coaches/mentors/those who have gone before...and I realize that I'm not the only one making sacrifices so I can do this. Like the mom who drives her Dorothy Hamill to skating lessons on cold winter mornings or the dad who works two jobs to afford the ice time for his budding Scott Hamilton, my family makes sacrifices to see me chase this dream.

    I just realized how dated I sound with those ice skater names...Maybe I should've used gymnastics and Nastia or Shawn as examples. :)

  21. What a great analogy! I think I just try to write something everyday. I wouldn't call that Olympic pace, but for me slow and steady will hopefully get me to the finish line someday:)Or at least until all my children are out of diapers.

  22. Love your running analogy! I am definitely aiming for Gold, but I'm not sure that my training always reflects this. Luckily, I don't have to worry about a once every four years window of time to submit my writing!

  23. Great post! Of course I have the desire to be an Olympian...but my writing seems to have taken a rest stop while my family life takes over a bit. Hopefully I can start training again and soon!

  24. I've never thought about it like that...hmmm. I'm definitely a 5k right now, building up for a half-marathon soon and the olympics in 4 years. Would that be winter or summer olympics?

  25. Susan: We will need a more intense training program if we're shooting for Olympic style writing!

    Rebecca: From what you've said before, I figured that's about where you were!

    Krista: I'm sure it must be really difficult to have an Olympic plan for writing when you're juggling so many other things. But I think the key is consistency and never giving up!

    Patricia: I know that analogy is far from perfect! Talent does play into writing much the same way it does athletics too. (And lot of other factors too, as you mentioned!)

    Cindy: I agree. The pressures of a marathon training vs. Olympic are very intense!

    Melissa: I'm glad the post was encouraging! Sometimes we Olympic writers need a little push, don't we?

    Donna: We're all definitely writing for different reasons! Glad we're thinking the same these days!

    Erica: You're a stitch! I'm dated with you! And I agree! We need our support team! We couldn't do it without them.

    Kara: With little ones, it's definitely difficult to have time to do Olympic training!

    Kate: We're lucky we don't have to wait every four years!

    Chelle: Sometimes life and family bring us detours that stop us.

    Joyce: Sounds like you're moving along at just the right pace! I'm sure we'll see you in the Olympics sooner than you think!

  26. I'm going for the gold...and although I'm in intensive training, I may have to be in the Senior Olympics before I'm ready!

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  29. You are right, we all set out with different hopes & goals. As time goes by, it can change. Sometimes, we begin with baby steps. We set simple goals for ourselves and see where those goals lead us. Often times there are forks in the road that put us off course for a while or even take us on a shorter path. Personally, I'm still taking baby steps... mostly because I am always put my family before my own personal goals.

  30. I like this metaphor quite a bit and will try to restrain myself from writing an essay about it here in the comment box.

    Let's just say that marathon training is about more than one race. Once you get in shape to complete one marathon you are in a great position to complete more than one. I hear about people that get on a role and complete many books. The completion of one book, I hear, makes you stronger for the next one. Also, once you can PR in a marathon, the 5ks are a lot of fun. Suddenly that distance seems short. Oh, I long for the days when I was in shape. Just jogging a mile right now is work.

  31. Jody, I know I need to be in the marathon but keep falling out. One day soon, I will make it to the finish line. As I read your post what came to mind was I need a training program! Thank you for the coaching. On Friday I need to enter my office, shut the door, and write until three papers are completely finished. When rest does come, I need to work on a writing program for the fall that won't exhaust me.


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