Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What's Your Pace? By Andy Scheer

How many words did you add to your writing project this week? More than your critique partner added to hers?

Who cares? So long as you're still progressing, your pace on this stretch doesn't matter.

This past week, my wife and I enjoyed a three-day getaway in the mountains west of Denver. Each day we hiked about three miles. But for each hike we fell into a different pace—reflecting the altitude and terrain.

Day one's trail, around a mountain lake, was mostly level. A few times muddy stretches or uphill sections slowed us, but we averaged a steady pace and finished the circuit in good time.

Day two found us trekking up Mayflower Gulch to an old mining town. We'd enjoyed the hike two summers ago. But this time the steep track was covered with snow and ice. We'd expected some snow. But not the effort of walking uphill for more than a mile and a half when every step meant unsure footing.

We took the trail slowly. We paused often to catch our breath. Some younger hikers passed us. But we arrived safely. We enjoyed the scenery. Then we descended the mile and a half—without falling. But only because we took our time.

Day three's trail was dry but steep. Several times my wife outpaced me, especially on stretches where scenic vistas beckoned me to take a photo—and catch my breath. Again we were overtaken by a much younger hiker. But she lived nearby and said she hiked the trail daily. For us, it was the first time. So we took it at our own pace, enjoyed the journey, and finished the hike.

Having completed those trails, my wife and I are better, more experienced hikers. If we ever take those paths again, we might be able to complete them more quickly—conditions permitting.

What terrain are you experiencing on your work-in-progress? If you've reached a steep, uphill section, don't worry if you're moving more slowly or have to catch your breath. It's a good time to look over your shoulder to see how far you've come. Then start writing again—at your own pace.


Karen Wingate said...

This is such a good analogy - and makes me feel so much better! One day last week I inserted about three paragraphs into an already written chapter. But they were very significant paragraphs and took a lot of care in wording in just the right way. I felt more productive than on the days where I wrote 2000 words of a rough draft! So much like a mountain climb with tricky footing, but hooray, we conquered it!

Lilly Sanders Ubbens said...

This was really encouraging to me, as I balance my two month old, two year old, and my writing. Thank You!