Tag Archives: writing

Caffeine Roundup.

Caffeine Roundup

RUNNING//

For Everyone Who Says They Cant.
Anne from FANNEtastic Foods did an amazing interview with Jeff Le who shares his incredible story of never giving up.

Why Taking a Break Isn’t the end.
We’ve all had to take time off and it can be really, really hard to get back in the game.  But it can be done.

Is Being Lean Really Worth It?
Not specifically running related, but it raises a really interesting question about lifestyle and what’s right for each of us.

WRITING//

Revising your writing again? Blame the Modernists
I’ve always thought that revision is where the magic of writing really happens, but I guess that hasn’t always been the case.

7 Things Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Storytelling
Another fun list about great story telling.

Comfort Writing and How To Avoid It
A great post about keeping your writing fresh.

READING//

Etsy: An Unlikely Source for Children’s Books
If you’re looking for fun children’s book, why not check out Etsy? Never would have thought of this!

The Legacy of Franz Kafka As Seen Through His Impact on Gabriel García Márquez
In honor of Franz Kafka’s birthday this past week.

Famous Books Inspired By Dreams
I found this list really interesting. I’ve definitely had some strange dreams, but I can’t imagine any of them becoming full-fledged stories.

FOODING//

Low-Fat Lemon Bars
I made these last night and they were fantastic! The ingredients a little confusing in some parts, but definitely worth it.

Fish in a Tin
Still not sold on sardines as an alternative to tuna? Then check out this post.

roasted cherry bourbon milkshakes with hot fudge.
I haven’t had a chance to make this yet, but it looks incredible. Definitely on my to-make list for this summer.

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Filed under Books, Caffeine Roundup, Fooding, Running, Writing

Rest Days.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am very into both running and writing, and I am especially thrilled when the two overlap (See: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami). So when I found this quote on one of the writing blogs I follow, it really jumped out at me.

“There are days when I don’t write at all, but they are more like rest days.
There are days when I write a few thousand words and none of it goes into
the book, but those are like practice days, and they definitely happen to
everyone.” — Joanna Penn (in an interview with The Write Practice)

Just like running, you have to exercise your writing muscles. Back when I was working on my thesis for grad school I had no problem just sitting down and pounding out a few thousand words, but it was because I had been practicing for two years. And in the last year, as I’ve taken time to sort of detox from grad school, I’ve found myself having trouble even getting started. It’s sort of like how the hardest part of your run is the very first step (and the next few if you’ve taken some time off recently like I have…)

a professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit

You have good days and bad days in both running and writing. The key is getting yourself to start and then not letting yourself give up because of a bad day. Just take some time, rest, and start again tomorrow.

What does your writing/running schedule look like?

Do you plan your rest days? Or take them when you know you need them?


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Caffeine Roundup.

Caffeine Roundup

RUNNING//

Ridiculous New Shoe from Adidas: SpringBlade
So Adidas came out with some new shoes…with springs…what do you think? Gimmicky or the shoe of the future?

Running Laps Should Never Be a Punishment!
I remember hating the 10-minute warmup runs I had to do back when I played soccer. It wasn’t punishment, but I remember  any running that didn’t involve a soccer ball sure felt like. Younger me never would have considered doing distance running for fun.

The Running of the Interns
On the day of the Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA (yay!), a new sporting event emerged!

WRITING//

The Decline and Fall of the English Major
I was an English major in college and I often sing its praises, but the English major has had an interesting progression over the past few years. The once traditional liberal arts major is now becoming few and far between.

Daily Routines of Famous Writers
I love lists like these. Simple, interesting, and inspiring!

Call for Submissions:The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
In case you had a story you were looking to submit.

READING//

The Lottery Letters
Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite authors and her story “The Lottery” has stayed with me since the first time I read it in high school. I was blown away by the story’s complexity and commentary on society. So I found this New Yorker article to be hilarious.

14 Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen
Hello new summer reading list!

ΦBK Summer Reading List
I’m a Phi Beta Kappa member, so I get their monthly newsletters. I thought I would share their brainy books reading list. Some interesting stuff!

FOODING//

Chocolate Cherry Espresso Smoothie
Anne from Fanntastic Foods put together the perfect combination of breakfast smoothie and morning coffee.

DIY Coffee Concentrate + Speedy Almond Milk Iced Coffee
As it continues to get hotter and hotter, my coffee is getting colder and colder. Here is a great recipe for DIY iced coffee with homemade almond milk!
(Door Sixteen had the same idea)

Honey Sunflower Bread
I absolutely love baking bread and this new loaf from Budget Bytes might be my next project.

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Busy summer travels.

This has been an incredible summer so far, especially the past few weeks. I’ve been traveling almost non-stop, between college ruinions in Virginia, grad school reunions in Cincinnati, and training in Chicago this past week. I’m hoping now I’ll get a little down time to just relax by the pool and get some reading done. I  started Dan Brown’s new novel, Inferno. I know it’s not the peak of literary merit, but Brown’s books are always quick reads and an entertaining ride (except for The Lost Symbol which I listened to via audio book on a nine-hour drive to Maryland, and it was awful.)

Just a quick catch up to what I’ve been up to this summer in picture form:

virginia_wine

Above is a picture from my trip to virginia, sipping wine with my girls looking out over the top of a mountain. It could not have been more beautiful.

sillykitty

But after almost 20+ cumulative hours of driving to get to and from Virginia, I was *very* glad to get home to my kitty, Professor. He was very displeased with how long I had been away. Luckily I have an awesome roommate who takes care of him while I’m gone.

sushi

Then the following weekend was my trip to Oxford and Cincinnati to visit friends from grad school. We stopped off to grab some tasty sushi before a night of drinking.

beforeidie

And we decided on what we wanted to do before we die. (Mine is to “Publish a Book”)

greatbar

And hung out at this AWESOME bar outside, drinking $2 beers because why not? There was a Ke$ha concert that same night, which now explains why there were so many people  covered in glitter.

notcomfy

And then I slept on the most uncomfortable futon ever — felt like college all over again!

parklunch

I was lucky enough to get home early Sunday morning, so I took advantage of the great weather and grabbed a sandwich to take to the park.

parkreading

And then I finally finished reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, which is a fantastic book. I look forward  to seeing the movie next.

chicagobreakfast
Then it was only a few days later that I was off to Chicago for my training. I didn’t get any pictures as it was quite a whirlwind experience. I will have to write a separate post about that later. I did manage to grab a picture of my breakfast from the second day. Exciting, I know.

And now for some R&R by the pool…

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki MurakamiHow it was possible for me to get this far in life without realizing there was a book out there that combined my two loves: running and writing, is beyond me. This book, of course, is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This book is only 180 pages. Short and poignant, it is a collection of short essays written by Murakami while training for yet another marathon. He describes his many experiences as a runner, including training, running races, and how all of it can be related to his writing.

To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t run enjoying this book. A writer may pick up this memoir to glean some wisdom about writing–which there is some–but I don’t think there is enough to satisfy someone with no interest in physical fitness.

But for me, it was the perfect mix. I have always said I would never run a full marathon, but having just run a half marathon and  now, having just read this book, I am starting to think a full marathon might be a reality for me sometime in the future. This book was inspiring in so many ways. As soon as I finished, I laced up and ran the fastest, most enjoyable four miles I’ve run probably ever.

One might consider this book a bit self-indulgent, which is exactly what Murakami said he feared in his introduction. It felt like he was working through his own thoughts, never really drawing helpful conclusions so much as, raising questions about life. At times I found this a bit frustrating, like reading someone’s diary, but at other times, I found it really human, and I appreciated knowing that this amazingly accomplished writer and runner has the same fears and concerns that I have, and works through them with the same uncertainty as I do.

As a runner, I really appreciated the discussion of his training and race experiences. He describes a grueling experience running the original marathon race in Athens, and his seemingly unbearable trial of human strength running an ultra-marathon. The details he gives of the pain he felt, physical and mental, remind me of many of the thoughts and feelings I have experienced as well. (And also solidified my resolve to never run an ultra-marathon because it does not in any way, shape, or form, sound fun.)

Below, I have excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book:

“When I’m training for a race, I have to show my muscles who’s boss. I have to make it clear to them what’s expected.” Page 72.

“Even if there were two of me, I still couldn’t do all that has to be done. No matter what, though, I keep up my running. Running every day is kind of a lifeline to me, so I’m not going to lay off or quit just because I’m busy. If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.” Page 73.

“What’s needed for a writer of fiction — at least one who hopes to write a novel — is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, two years. You can compare it to breathing. If concentration if the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs…Continue to breathe while you hold your breath.” Page 78.

“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life–and for me, for writing as well.” Page 83.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated it both for the wisdom is imparted, and  for inspiration of a shared human experience. It made me feel like I could pour my love into both writing and running, and that I didn’t have to choose one or the other to place my focus. Most of all, it made me feel like things I have been unable to even comprehend attempting are possible and achievable.

I’ll no doubt come back to this book for a pick-me-up every so often. It only took me a few hours to read, and it provided just the push I needed to get myself off the couch, out the door, and back putting one foot in front of the other.

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What gets you up in the morning?

Serious question.

What gets you up in the morning?

When the alarm goes off and you open your eyes to see the sun peeking through the blinds, what is it that ultimately gets you to throw back the covers and swing your legs over the edge of the bed?

The logical answer here is that you have to be at work at 9am so you can earn the money to pay your bills.

For most people, this is the answer five days a week, and on weekends, you lay in bed for a few extra hours because it’s not like you have anything you have to do, right?

One day after work, I was sitting at home and watching TV, and I just started crying. Suddenly, I realized that this could easily be the rest of my life: Getting up and going to work, coming home to sit around, eating dinner before heading to bed, only to repeat the process all over again the next day. I was suddenly very, very afraid.

If that’s all I have to look forward to for the next 40 years, what is the point of living? Honestly, if all I did every day was go to work, eat, and sleep, what would be the point of it all?

At 24 years old, I never thought I would honestly be asking myself to identify my reasons for living. I mean, this is is my prime! I should be more excited about living now than any other time in my life, right? Then why was I suddenly feeling so depressed about my routine?

The fact is that for so many years, school had given my life meaning. Working toward graduation was this ultimate goal that propelled me forward. Once that was gone, I felt like I was floating. What was I working toward now? And I realized, from here on out, I was in charge of creating my own motivation. The universe wasn’t going to provide me with any more freebies.

It’s scary to suddenly feel that kind of freedom. It is 100% my choice whether or not I spend every day after work doing nothing, or if I use that time to work toward something I want.

But what exactly do I want?

This becomes the bigger life question. Before, all I wanted was to be done with school. Mission accomplished. But what now?

Well…I want to be a published writer; I want to have an exciting career; I want to be an accomplished runner; I want to live an exceptional life.

Then dammit, I had better be using my free time to work toward these goals! Screw sitting in front of the TV after work.

It’s moments like this when I grab my running shoes and lace up, or pull out my notebook to scribble down some notes.

Growing up is scary and I was not prepared for this part of the process. I thought it all came naturally, falling into your lap as you moved forward, but that’s not the case.

With freedom comes responsibility–you’re in charge of your own life now. What do you want, and how bad do you want it?

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A Body In Motion Tends to Gets Shit Done

If I have learned anything from post-grad life, it’s that unless I absolutely force myself to do something, it will probably only happen every 5-6 months.

Since graduation, I have written exactly one complete story and have revised absolutely nothing. This is devastating because I am not doing the very thing I went to school for 5 years and earned two degrees to do.

And it’s much too easy to convince myself that I am just too tired after my six hour work day to go for a 30-minutes run.

The hard truth of it is that in school, you need very little self discipline because you have hard and fast deadlines to adhere to. Post-graduation, that’s just not the case, so one must develop some serious self-control in order to actually get things done, even things you legitimately want to do (because there will always be an excuse not to).

How do you go about cultivating some self-discipline?

According to the first link I found on google, one must:

1. Develop and Follow your Priorities

2. Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal

3. Challenge your Excuses

4. Remove Rewards Until the Jobs is Done

5. Stay Focused on Results

[article]

For me, personally? I’ve made a few strides in getting myself to actually get things done, and the number one reason is this: I adhere to a schedule. And I don’t let myself slow down or blow it off.

I am finally in the office every day, so when I come home, the work day is actually over and there is a separation between work and play. This is particularly crucial because after working from home for 5 months, the lines began to blur and I started to seriously resent my living room couch.

So now, when I come home, the first thing I do is: sit for a moment, have a small snack, drink some water, and then I immediately go for a run. I’m usually tired, kind of want to make dinner, and really just want to watch tv–but no. It’s 30 minutes, I have no reason not to go.

When I get home from my run, I shower and feel like I have accomplished something.

And it is that that feeling of productivity that keeps me going. Without feeling productive during the day, I get depressed, feel down on myself, and then proceed to accomplish NOTHING.

It’s all about inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, so start your day by being productive and keep being productive.

Come home and go on your run. Come home and write your story. Sure, take a small break, but don’t turn on the TV, don’t lay on your bed–keep yourself in the mindset that you aren’t done for the day  just yet.

Because the minute you sit down and stop, you stop for the night. At least in my experience, it is really hard to get moving again, and that’s what has been killing my productivity. Don’t let it kill yours too.

 

 

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