Writing – It’s a Marathon


Writing a Novel is a like running a Marathon

I recently watched the London marathon, and as ever I am in awe of everyone who participates, particularly on such a hot day. It is not for the fainthearted, and as much as I would love to say that I have run a marathon, I am just not prepared to do the hard work to get there. It takes months of dedicated training to work up to running the 26 miles course. You need to have a determination of steel to push through and keep your legs going. If you have taken part in a marathon, I want to take a brief moment to applaud you.

The nearest I have come was a few years ago I did a 10K run for charity, which also took in part of the central city route of the marathon. It was also a blistering hot day and the heat was a killer, you could feel the heat reflecting off the road. In the end, I was thrilled to complete the run just under the time I was aiming for – all my hours of training paid off in the end – and I have a shiny medal to prove it!

Watching the runners and thinking back to my own training schedule, it reminded me how it really is similar to writing a novel. Writing a good novel takes a lot of dedication and determination, and you need to keep motivated to get through the “walls” and get it done.

My Writing Goals

I am just over halfway through writing the first draft of my novel, and I will admit that I was overwhelmed when I realised that the average fiction book is somewhere between 60,000 to 80,000 words. That is a lot of words to write.

To help me face this daunting task, I opted to split the book down into 4 parts. This has given me milestones to achieve and by breaking it down into smaller chunks, it makes it a little easier for my head to deal with. This is a technique I used regularly with my coaching clients to make it easier for them to keep moving forward one step at a time, and like any journey, take enough steps and you will get to the finish line.

Prepare Like a Pro

In a recent interview with Susanne Mueller we talked about her coaching book being born out of her participation in an ‘Iron Man’ event and 15 New York marathons, and in the interview we learn about the parallel between her training for sporting events and her writing her own book ‘Take it from the Iron Woman’. (Listen to the podcast episode – Meet the Author: Susanne Mueller)

Currently, I am working on Part 3 and to help me, as I must admit I do feel my energy and enthusiasm starting to wane – I have now subdivided the section further into months. As my novel covers a 12-month period, it helps me to think about the comings and goings along the timeline for each month. I am still not 100% sure how I will structure the final book, but right now this makes sense to me, and, after all as the writer, it is my prerogative to decide how I tackle the writing of it.

I will admit that I am a big fan of the “Word Count” tool; it has become my best friend (although on some occasions a foe). I write a bit and then like to check and see how many words. Right now my focus is on getting the word count up and the first story draft completed.

Next Steps

Once the first draft has been completed, it will then be time to shift into the editing stage. This is the process I am dreading. I have never had to edit before and will have to engage support for this task. This is the stage to critically go through the draft with a ‘fine tooth comb’, adding and deleting to make the storyline flow, ensure character continuity and accuracy. I know that there are sections which will need to be re-written to incorporate the “show don’t tell” way of writing mentioned in an earlier blog post.
(Blog Post – ‘Show Don’t Tell’)

As I am writing the book in the 3rd person, I have opted to include parts where the main protagonist is thinking to herself and I need to make sure these are clear for the reader to follow.

Once I am happy with the overall story and editing completed (as if a writer will ever be 100% happy), the book text needs to be carefully proofed for grammar, spelling and typos.

At this point in time, I will be delighted to hand it over to my publisher for a professional cover design, and layout for both e-books, such as Kindle, and the paperback version.

The Book Marketing Journey is Only Beginning

At this point you would think the journey ends when the book is birthed – but no. This is where I change my writer hat over to become my book’s personal ambassador. Marketing is as important as the writing. This is time to start telling the world about your awesome book, get people to know about your book and where they can purchase it. It is a time to show your baby off and get people talking about it – buying and reading it.

Writing a book is a long game – it takes time, diligence, determination, focus, drive and a whole dose of belief to make it through to the finish line… and even then, I would suspect that most writers would already have started on their next book. It really is a labour of love and you need to be passionate about it.




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Who is Janet The Writer?

Janet the Writer is made up of many wonderful life experiences, a love of reading and an avid desire to bring joy into the world of others.

My journey has been a mixed bag of experiences, career paths, adventurers and travels.


Books saved me

I was born and was raised in Northern Ireland at the height of the “Troubles”.   It was not easy for me as a highly sensitive child to be under the constant fear of bombs and shootings.  I was fortunate to find solace and comfort in books.

Books were my way to escape from the, as it felt to me, cruelty of the real world.   I particularly adored that one book would take me on an adventure to Narnia – a strange and magical world filled with talking animals and the mystical Aslan; while another would have me experiencing life as a sleuth, side-by-side with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

I was an avid reader and my mind was full of incredible stories – so much so that my imagination loved to invent its own stories too, in which I was the heroine and would slay some terrible fantasy monster to save the day.


Books for Learning

Books have always been important to me, even as an adult.   I have learnt so much from them.  

For example, I have learnt to communicate in several languages, which has aided me to connect with people in some of the countries where I lived and even I now where I currently reside in Switzerland.  

Additionally, books have taught me about how to transform my life using an array of alternative coaching methods.   I have enjoyed whipping up fabulous desserts and cakes from our ever-growing selection of cookery books.  I have laughed and cried at the ups and downs of life, felt the hopelessness and despair of failed romances, and even stood teetering, hand in hand with the main protagonist, on the edge of a giant abyss called “depression”.


Many Forms of Writing

Even when I look back over my “work life”, I realise how important the written word had been.

When I first starting working as a secretary/PA, typing up endless communications and reports, I realised how important the information being conveyed to the recipient could be.   As an IT Trainer, I supplemented my live training sessions with ‘easy-to-follow how-to manuals’, broken down into to step-by-step instructions on how to complete a task from start to finish.  

During my stint working as an Economic Research Assistant, I spent most of my time researching information and summarising the key points in a easy to read digest.  As a Project Manager, I would compile constant reports detailing statistical data on how the project was going.  

As well as on a personal basis over the years, writing endless letters and newsletter sharing with our family and friends back home, our exploits and adventures in foreign lands (this was the era before FaceTime/Skype and Emails, when you had to put pen to paper to stay in contact).


Words are Truly Powerful

WORDS really can convey an emotion, or conjure up an image of a fantasy creature, or share with you the sensual delights of an experience.

I have always dreamed of writing books, lots of them, and now is my time to step up, kick fear into touch, grab my pen and start allowing my stories to flow.

I invite you to get to know me better through my writing – and I am sure that some of you will relate to some of my stories and experiences.   Please don’t forget to let me know your feedback and comments – I’d love to hear from you.


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