Guest Post: 6 Things Running Taught Me About Becoming an Author by Kelly Brakenhoff

Guest Post:

6 Things Running Taught Me About Becoming an Author

It took two years of running regularly before I called myself a runner. Eighteen months and 5 books after my first mystery published, and I’m just now feeling like a real author.

Nine years ago, I began a Couch-to-5K training program which literally took me from an active YMCA enthusiast who couldn’t run around the block to completing my first 5K run. Once I began writing with the intention of checking off “become an author” from my bucket list, I noticed there are similarities between the two pursuits.

In fact, authors Joyce Carol Oates and Haruki Marukami are both runners.

Would you like to be able to run around the block? Or maybe you want to write that book you’ve been dreaming about for years? Follow these tips and soon you’ll make progress on either ambitious goal you’ve set.

Start Small.

The beauty of the Couch-to-5K app is that you literally start from nothing. You run 30 seconds, walk a couple minutes, run a minute, walk, repeat.

Likewise, in writing projects it’s easiest to divide your large goal like an 80,000-word novel or a 50,000-word month (like November’s NaNoWriMo) into more attainable daily goals.

Follow the plan, plus a little more.

When the app says run farther, run farther than you think you can. The first time the app told me to run 20 minutes without stopping I was so physically anxious, my stomach churned. But I reminded myself that I had done the previous workouts. So I just did it. My lungs burned and my side hurt, but I did it.  

The same thing happened when I wrote more than 2,000 words in one day for the first time. You don’t know your limits until you test them. Once you break out of your self-imposed barriers you gain confidence in meeting the next goal on your journey.

Learn proper technique.

Most writers were voracious readers first. You have to read a lot of books in the genre you want to write so you can follow their lead. I’m always studying articles, workshops, and videos coaching me to craft better stories. One of the books I read this summer was 5,000 Word per Hour by Chris Fox. I’m nowhere close to that speed yet, but I’ve incorporated a lot of his tips to maximize the time I spend wiring every day.

Once I had a few half-marathons under my belt, I wanted to break the 2-hour mark. As a 50+ year old runner, that goal seemed impossible until I studied how fast I’d have to go per mile to finish in under two hours. A trainer helped me improve my foot speed and use proper posture to go faster without working harder.

Schedule it on the calendar.

Another key is to schedule workouts. It’s easier to plan ahead than to squeeze it into a busy day. The same idea goes for writing. If you can learn to sprint where you set a clock for 10 or 20 minutes and eliminate distractions to just get the words out, it’s amazing how much you can write in a short time. Plan a few of those sprints every day and soon you’ll hit your daily goals.

Don’t give up.

When going up a hill, put your head down, put one foot in front of the other and breathe.  Don’t give up, no matter how slow you go.  

For me, the murky middle of the book is the hardest slog. There are days I want to weep because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get to the ending I’ve envisioned. Dean Wesley Smith’s advice to “Just write the next sentence,” is the writer’s equivalent to putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t give up.

How will it feel when you’re done?

When you feel like sitting on the couch or napping instead of training, remind yourself how good it will feel when you finish that day’s workout. I can’t honestly say I enjoy running, except on those rare days when the temperature is perfect, my running buddy is by my side, and I don’t have other commitments rushing me along.  However, I am addicted to the feeling I get when I have finished the run. No other exercise leaves me with the same level of satisfaction.

It comes down to fear. I don’t have to be great at something before trying it. I’m not a New York Times best-selling author. High school classes aren’t discussing the themes and symbols in my mysteries. When a reader leaves a sincere review about why they liked the books, or emails me a question, I love the feeling of having written about characters they enjoyed in a story that touched them. It feels great!

The main thing I’ve learned in both running and writing is to just get started. Don’t wait any longer to pursue your dreams and goals. If I can do it, so can you. Good luck!


It’s beginning to look a lot like murder . . . And Cassandra is knee deep in . . .
in Dead of Winter Break by @inBrakenVille

About The Book

About The Book:


Her boss is dead, and the police are calling it burglary gone wrong. But when the killer comes after her, it’s going to take more than a pair of furry boots to keep the smart, witty Morton College administrator, Cassandra Sato, out of the deep. . .

Snow.
Her first Christmas in Nebraska could be her last unless her friends help unravel the mystery and housebreak her dog.

Buy now for a fast-paced, holiday themed whodunit.

Dead of Winter Break is the third book in Kelly Brakenhoff’s popular Cassandra Sato Mystery Series. Death by Dissertation was a 2020 RONE Award Finalist. Publishers Weekly called Dead Week, “a diverting whodunit.”

Book Link – Amazon  / BookShop


About The Author

About The Author:

KELLY BRAKENHOFF writes the Cassandra Sato Mystery series including DEATH BY DISSERTATION, a 2020 RONE Award Mystery Finalist, DEAD WEEK, “a diverting whodunit,” (Publishers Weekly), and DEAD OF WINTER BREAK available in November 2020.

Kelly is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends.  NEVER MIND and FARTS MAKE NOISE, her children’s picture books featuring Duke the Deaf Dog and illustrated by her sister, Theresa Murray, have quickly become popular with children, parents, and educators for promoting inclusive conversations about children with differences.

The mother of four young adults and a German Wirehair Pointer, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

Author Links:


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