Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Training

It’s the first day of spring! After a cold and snowy Indiana winter, spring is a time for new beginnings and rebirth. We’re already nearly three full months into 2010. Think back to January 1. Did you come up with some resolutions? Did you map out some goals? Yes, I did too. Pull that list back out and look it over. How are you doing? Knocking it out of the park? Sharpened pencil still hovering over item number one? Maybe somewhere in the middle with a few goals met, but many others pushed to the next week or the next month.

God taught me a lesson this winter about persevering through life. It could apply to any difficult undertaking, but we’re here to talk writing. Let me share a few ideas that might help get you through the next writing slump or difficult objective you encounter.

Five days a week I run three miles. While the winter weather usually confines me to indoors, I found myself between treadmills and so I headed to the local River Greenway to run one cold day in February. I parked my car and bundled up to fight off the chill. The wind pushed at me and I could picture myself like those TV weathermen who report from the shore while a hurricane makes land—leaning into it, hair whipping around, face stinging in the cold breeze. When I don’t have the treadmill to gauge my speed, I start out too fast. So there I was, only about a third of a mile in, fighting the wind, the cold, and the beginning of a side-stitch. That’s when I started to doubt. It’s too cold out here. I should go home and skip today. This stinks. Why did I ever start running in the first place? This is no fun. This is too hard.I still had several miles to go and if I had any hope of getting this done, I needed to dig deeper and figure out how I was going to do it.

The first thing I did was check my pace. I cut back a little on the speed and the side stitch vanished. In your writing, maybe you are going too fast or too slow. Either one can cause you to burn out. Make a plan to finish on time.

Next I did what I often do when I need to get my mind off of myself—I prayed. I started with A and began to work my way through the alphabet. Prayer realigns our focus and gets us through the tough times.

The last thing I did was to focus on what was true. I told myself that I could rest in a short while. I promised I’d be so happy when I met this goal. I bribed myself with the Reese’s peanut butter hearts in the trunk. Focus on the truth in your writing journey. Remind yourself why you do it and of the reward waiting at the end.

I am happy to say that I made it. On the return route, the wind blew at my back, the sun warmed my chilly cheeks, and I noticed the sun-kissed icicles and the birds on the river. I reminded myself of that truth too—some days of writing are like that—you hit your sweet spot.

Here we sit on the cusp of spring and I give you permission to dust off those New Year’s resolutions and goals. Tuck the failures of the past away with your sweaters and let hope peek through like a winter-white ankle. It’s the season for new beginnings.

Nikki Studebaker Barcus


  1. Very true. It's so easy to say maybe this isn't really the direction God is leading me in, rather than saying, His timing!! I learned (TOO MANY) years ago that perseverance is the answer! When writing suspense, there's no other choice. Very often, our characters change as the novel evolves and we don't know whodunnit til the end either!

  2. What a delightful writer you are, Nikki! I checked out your website, and agree with others who know you -- you SHOULD write a book. And indeed, you are. . . thanks for the "run"! I hope to finish with the sun on my face too, enjoying God's marvels around me. . . :-)

  3. Great reminders, Nikki! I'm doing pretty well on the writing goals. Not so great on the treadmill resolutions. . . .