Thursday, January 29, 2015

Best of the Archives: Endurance to Cross Your Own Finish Line

This post first appeared in Seekerville in October 2013. We're bringing it back to start the new year. 

In Seekerville we talk a lot about our journey from the island to the mainland. Call me idealistic, but I believe that everyone who wants to can make that trip. I also believe that being a writer isn't necessarily about being fair or even being talented. Sometimes it's just about determination and preparation.

 Here's a shocker for you..maybe you better sit down. I used to run. In fact, thirteen years ago, I was running seven miles on my speed days. I love running. Maybe as much as writing. 

I don't run anymore.

What happened? 

I stopped.

I remember talking to my doctor about my frustration a few years ago. She said to start again. 

Right. HOW?

One step at a time.

And that's exactly how it is with writing and your journey to the mainland. It begins one word at a time. One paragraph at a time. One page at a time.

Runners World Magazine has this advice for new runners: 

"The first 2 miles are the hardest 2 miles you will ever run. Once you have reached this level of fitness, it's relatively easy to do more. You simply have to budget the time, and be patient and disciplined in your training."

The same is true of writing your first book. The commonality here is that both of these efforts level the playing field. No matter how exalted you were in your previous life as a teacher, a brain surgeon, a real estate magnate or an artist, we all start out at the same starting line when we lace up those sneakers begin our running/writing journey. Sure some of us are blessed with long legs, or maybe the gift of storytelling, but we all must run the race.

  •  "Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."   - Doug Larson, English gold-medalist runner

  • "Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic." - Tim Noakes  Professor, runner in more than 70 marathon and ultra-distance events

  •  "Without patience, you will never conquer endurance."-Yiannis Kouros, holder of multiple world ultra records

 Endurance is built by patience and training.

So, I've created some island training plans to meet you where you are as a runner/writer. The most important thing about any training plan is to avoid setting yourself up to fail. 

Evaluate what you've been doing for the last thirty days and pick an appropriate training plan that will produce success.

After you reach your consecutive day goals feel free to move to the next level or adjust the plans to your individual needs.  An example would be writing six days per week or two sessions daily.

You don't have to move up a level.  

Beginning Writer Training Plan

 This 30 day plan is designed to get you in the habit of daily writing.

Your only goals are the beginning word count and ending word count. Weeks 2 & three are the same. It doesn't matter if it takes you all day to reach your daily goal or thirty minutes. One writing session or three. You must meet your daily goal.

Anytime you lapse, you must start over at day 1. So if on day 3 you get sick, then on day 4 you are back on day 1. If you are on day 29 and life gets in the way, you start over at day 1. Continue until you make it through 30 days. Use the goal numbers provided if possible. You can switch to different projects for the 30 days. But if you do not meet your daily goal you must always go back to the starting line. You may not edit. At the end of thirty consecutive days of writing you will have a minimum of 21,000 words.

1. Week 1 - Write 500 words seven days consecutively.

2. Week 2 - Write 750 words seven days consecutively.

3. Week 3 - Write 750 words seven days consecutively.

4. Week 4 -Write 1000 words seven days consecutively.


Intermediate Writer Training Plan

Pick a project. Any project. This is the project you'll stay with for six weeks. No excuses. You may not edit this project. Strive for reaching your word count goal in one session (no matter how long that session is) with breaks. Ideally, after six weeks you can maintain your goal and then add an editing session later in the day. If you do not meet your daily goal you must always go back to the starting line. Your six week goal is 42 consecutive days and a minimum of 63,000 words.

1. Week 1 - Write 1000 words seven days consecutively.

2. Week 2 - Write 1000 words seven days consecutively.

3. Week 3 - Write 1500 words seven days consecutively.

4. Week 4 -Write 1500 words seven days consecutively.

5. Week 5- Write 2000 words seven days consecutively. 

6. Week 5- Write 2000 words seven days consecutively.

Advanced Writer Training Plan 

Do not begin this plan unless you have successfully trained through the beginner and intermediate plans. No editing. Editing is done in another session during your writing day. Break as needed during sessions.

Adjust this plan to meet your needs and lifestyle.

DAY 1 Session-Average pacing 1000 to 2000 words

DAY 2 Session-Average pacing 1500 to 2000 words

DAY 3 Session-Average pacing 2000 words

DAY 4 Session-Speed day-Push toward doubling your regular daily output

DAY 5 Session-Slow day- goal is 1000 words.

DAY 6 Session-Average pacing 1000 to 2000 words



 Crossing your own finish line isn't about's about crossing the finish line.  It's all about one word, one paragraph, one page.  These plans are suggestions. Make your own plan. 

And then...

Don't ever stop!

Do share which training plan you're claiming or share your own training plan. If you're a reader share how many books you read a month.

BTW, here's some trivia for you. Did you know that if you write 2,000 words a day that equals 12 Love Inspired contemporary romances a year? -Thank you to Rogenna Brewer for that math.

Today in Seekerville we're giving away a big gift card. Comment to be entered. Winner  announced in the Weekend Edition.

Tina Radcliffe writes inspirational romance for Love Inspired. She is currently moving one step at a time toward her own finish line.


  1. I'm kind of slogging right now. My current writing project keeps getting put aside for the new indie publishing project.

    Lots of distractions lately.

    But the coffee pot is plugged in and the timer set.

  2. Helen has been here, and the coffee is brewing. All is well with the world. :-)

    I feel like I've been running lately. Revisions can leave a writer breathless as s/he races to the finish line. I completed them and sent the new and improved version of the story to my editor Monday. Now I've embarked on a laundry marathon. Still have several laps, er, loads to go.

  3. Well, as a reader I read on average a book a week. If life gets in the way it's more like a book every ten days.

    As a writer I will have to do the beginners plan.

    Thank you so much for this re-post. It is quite enlightening.

    I would love to be in the drawing.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  4. Hi,

    I'm a reader. I read about a book a week, but it does depend on the length of the book.

  5. Hello, looking at these numbers made me smile. Currently, I try to write 3, 500 words Monday through Friday with the weekends off to spend time with my family. It is hard sometimes and there are days where I stare at my computer and nothing happens. I'm going to try writing in smaller bites; it might make me more creative. I enjoyed this post. Thank you!

  6. I'd love to win a gift card. On average I read 3-4 books a week.

  7. And Wow, Helen, can I relate to distractions.

    Which reminds me. I had a workshop approved for RWA NYC with a group of writers. The topic? ADD/ADHD and the writer.

  8. Laundry marathons. A necessary evil.

  9. A book a week for you folks. Wow. Impressive.

  10. Kelly, 3500 M-F is an impressive goal. GO YOU!!!

  11. Way to go CathyAnn!! Reader extrordinaire!

  12. Party on. I must leave for work and will be checking in.

    I left a Panera's tray. Don't forget dessert in the Yankee Belle Cafe. Ruthy is cooking.

    Applesauce cake and brownies.

    Link is above in the Seekerville header.

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the re-post of this. I needed this desperately.

    I'm officially picking the beginner training plan. Nothing like having to start over at day one to help keep me on course. Baby steps... life has been kicking me all over of late, but I'm hoping I can at least have one small corner of my world moving forward.

    Have I told y'all lately how awesome Seekerville is? Thanks!!!!!

  14. I'm keeping up with my monthly goals. When I'm working on a rough draft, I write 1000 words a day. When I'm revising my manuscript, I might get 500 words logged on a new project. *SIGH* That darned day job keeps getting in the way.

    So, Tina, you are going to RWA in NYC? I'm thinking about going.

  15. Good post! Thanks.:-)

    As with most things that we have to be disciplined in—getting started is the hard part.

    Great advice like this helps!! :-)

  16. I am a reader and read about
    10-12 books per month!! The GC sounds soooo nice!

  17. Hi Tina, Good reminder. With today's post and Glynna's yesterday, we are getting set to break those limits. smile. And we're getting ready for speedbo. yay.

    Congrats on getting the workshop. They are so much fun to do. Makes going to the conference worthwhile. smile

    I'm passing this year. I just need to do as Ruthy says and write.

  18. Hi Rose, Glad to hear you still get 500 words when revising. I'm trying to do that also. But I think 500 words is better than not getting to that new wip. Keeps your mind on it. smile

    Hang in there. You're doing great.

  19. Thanks Deb H. for the gracious affirmation that we are accomplishing something-smile

    Hang in there.

  20. Thank you Tina. Right now my goals are in chunks because of my impossible schedule. For example, I'm giving myself till the end of Feb. to revise "Trail" into a shorter version for possible submission to LIH. This involves removing several characters' POV and focusing exclusively on Michael and Caroline, so I'm trying to find ways to introduce the antagonists and how they think through conversation etc., because I can't get into their heads. Well I can, but not for the book. LOL, :), whatever the symbols are. My goal is to have that revision done by March 1 so I can address "Well With Her Soul," the story I worked on for NANO, in SPEEDBO. But this post has inspired me, maybe I'll try a daily or weekly goal again. I'm like Ruthy, I LOVE to write and my writing time is precious, so I've been making use of scraps of time. In my day job, which is newspaper reporter, I'll sometimes get to a meeting early and line-edit on hard copy or write scenes on a yellow legal pad (THE BEST, Walmart makes a nice one with a strong back and holes punched). And I really made it sing this past week, when we were snowed in twice. I could have cleaned closets or put the Christmas stuff away, but I wrote. And it was sweet. The whole world stopped here, so I couldn't even telecommute, which was fine with me. Find out what works for you and, well, make it work.

  21. HELEN, I am sorry to hear you are bogged down. I can't even imagine what it takes to do an indie project. You have to be EVERYTHING.

  22. I'm also working with my crit partner, remotely (she's in another time zone) on my second book, "Town." We're only doing one chapter a month, and we're focusing on structure because she's strong in it and I kind of am not. Before I met her I thought GMC was some kind of a car. By-the-by, my word for this year is "Structure."
    So I have all these projects going, reworking "Trail" for a smaller word count, pumping up "Town" for structure, practicing my synopsis skills and looking forward to another round with "Well With Her Soul." I am constantly heeding Mary C's advice to "Be Ready." See, someone was paying attention.
    Would love to go over to Yankee Belle but had a McDonald's Big Breakfast, so Ruthy I will catch your goodies on the next round.
    Making It Work In NH In The Snow

  23. With my latest proposal out the door this week and my Seekerville blog post written/posted/hosted, I'm ready to get back into my daily word count efforts as I march toward getting this next WIP completed. It always feels so good to have reached my goal before I head out for the day--it starts the day off right with such a sense of accomplishment!

  24. Please enter my name in the drawing.
    Kathy Bailey

  25. Laundry marathon! Oh, fun, KELI! What always happens to me is after a proposal or book deadline, I have a office-cleaning and PAPER SHREDDING marathon! I'm one who redlines a lot and I proof read best on paper so it stacks up!

  26. WOW, KELLY! That word count is impressive!

  27. ROSE -- I'm impressed that you can be revising one book and still gaining word count ground on a new project at the same time. WOW.

  28. MARY H -- you're so right! Getting yourself started, overcoming the internal resistance, is the hard part. The next steps gradually become easier, but you have to take that first step.

  29. KAYBEE -- Sounds as if you're juggling a TON of things. I totally understand the writing around a day job and the effort it takes. Wonderful that you could take advantage of snow days!

  30. I am doing my hour a day writing and working on a voice program so I can get more production even though I can't type as much as I want.

    As for books, I have The Pioneer Girl in my hot little hands and I have thrown my research books to the side. This is a once in a life time experience. But really, I am trying to get back into reading a certain amount of research reading done a day and using PG as my reward.

    Thanks for this reminder post.Put me in for the drawing.

    Peace, Julie

  31. I'll be conservative here..if it's a LI book, I can read it it in one day, if it's a full length thriller novel it takes me about two you see, TINA, why I'm so anxious for new books! In summer it's quite another way, I have to work.

  32. See, this is why I love Seekerville. 'I believe that everyone who wants to can make that trip.' What encouragement! My realistic goal is the first one: the Beginner Writer Training Plan. I also read at least 3 books a week, usually more. Maybe I need to do less reading and more writing? That would open up a lot of time. My dream goal would be to write 2000 words a day. Probably not ever going to happen lol.
    Does the 12 books in a year take into account editing time and planning the next book? To the authors here, how do you start your next book? Just jump in and start writing, or do a complete outline of the story you are going to write, or other ways? Thanks for a great post!

  33. This is such a great post....and so apt. I've found in my own writing career moments where I've stalled out, where things have slowed. And then I pick up the pace. Another thing that is an apt metaphor is to have a running/writing buddy. My writing buddy pushes me to try a bit harder, work a bit more. Realize where I'm wasting time and how to be more productive. She encourages and pushes me. Always helpful.

  34. My training schedule has me beginning every day with a visit to Seekerville!
    I aspire to be in that advanced group someday but for now I better stick with the beginner. As many of us do, I have a full time job and a family. Those things preclude me from moving into that advanced training schedule. Someday. . .
    Endurance - need to work on that one.

  35. As far as reading I average at least 15 books a month.

    As far as writing my goal at this point is 500 words a day and I hope by Speedbo to increase to 1,000 words a day.

  36. Hi Tina,

    I didn't know you were a runner. I tried running over the summer and power-walking. But when the cold weather hits, I'm not out for much more than walking the dog. My hubby's leaving town for 10 days, so maybe I'll walk the dog longer and try to ignore the weather forecast of 8 degrees. Brr!

    I'm going to start the Intermediate plan, but I need to finish editing one project first.

    Do you want us to let you know when we start?

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing. Thanks!

  37. GLYNNA, I know what you mean about "sense of accomplishment." I tell myself, even if I don't get anything else done, I DID THAT.

  38. I read on average 10-12 books a month, with a few additional short stories thrown in the mix.

    I have SO many TBR books, I have actually had to organize my list for 2015 with over 50 must read books on it already! At that rate I'm already booked through July! I'll have to be selective with my remaining choices! lol

  39. GLYNNA, it is a lot but I have a lot to learn and to brush up on. I don't do it all at once -- I'll block out time for synopsis training, block out time to read my crit partner's stuff, block out time to work on trimming "Trail." I save the hard copy stuff for when I'm going to be Away From My Desk. It's time management, although not the way other people do it. And it gives me organizational skills for after I get The Call, because if there's one thing I've learned here, life doesn't get easier.

  40. As motivational today as it was the first time--thanks, Tina!

    I only wish I could consistently write 2000 words a day. On my 5-days-a-week writing schedule, that would still come out to 8-10 Love Inspired romances in a year!

    Alas, some writing days are a LOT more productive than others, but that's okay. It all comes down to commitment, because every word we write brings us one word closer to "the end."

  41. SALLY, even though I consider myself a "seat of the pants" writer, I can never just sit down and start writing without doing some preliminary thinking and planning.

    I need to know quite a bit about my characters' backgrounds and current situation--not everything, because some information comes to me later while I'm writing, but enough to set the story in motion.

    I also need to have a pretty good idea of what my characters want most by the end of the story, and maybe a few thoughts on what will keep them from reaching their goals.

    I might have some ideas about the black moment and how things will get resolved, but often that's a journey of discovery.

    The thing is, when you prepare a proposal to send to an agent or editor, your synopsis must clearly spell out the major turning points and resolution. So whatever your writing method, eventually you have to plan out the story and be able to summarize it engagingly in a few pages.

  42. Oh boy, Teenster, did I need THIS boost since I'm starting a new book in Feb., so THANK YOU!!

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the quote: "Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible." - Doug Larson, English gold-medalist runner.

    I also like the quote from Diana Nyad, "Isn't life about determining your own finish line," because we are not all dynamos in the writing world, so we have to set our own finish line without looking to the right or left, or at least I do.


  43. MYRA, thank you! I appreciate your thoughts. I am still trying to figure out my process, what works and what doesn't.

  44. Wow! Let me say that again...WOW! God knows just what we need to hear and for me today, THIS was it. I'm printing out the writing chart and stapling it to my forehead. Uh, maybe not, but you know what I mean. Thanks, Tina, for the post.

  45. Okay. 1000 words today. No distractions. It only takes about an hour, right?

    :) I love this post all over again!

  46. I remember this post. I could never get past 20 days.

    On another note, I understand it is Mary C's anniversary. Congrats, Mary!!

  47. I remember this post!! Loved it then, and love it now - - thanks Tina!!
    Yep, I've also had lots of little distractions lately (many of them fur-covered *wink*).
    Ooohhh, Tina's workshop for RWA sounds right up my alley.
    Okay, back to my WIP.
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  48. One step at at time. No Limits. :)

  49. What a great analogy for building endurance! Sometimes I get overwhelmed at how many books I have on my to-read list, but when I remember why I read- for the enjoyment of it- it's easier to take it one book at a time :) Thanks for the generous giveaway today!!!

  50. I remember when I first read this post. Since then, I've finished my first book and almost my second. Yay! :)

    My progress has lagged a bit this year, but I'm working to get back in a routine and see what God's planning for 2015.

    You've always been an inspiration, Tina.

  51. I love this post!

    I like to run, but like Jackie, it's slowed down since Thanksgiving because of the weather. We've had close to 80 degree temps this week (sorry to all those who've been snowed in) so I've been exercising every day. Always makes me feel better.

    I'm trying to get several small writing projects completed before Speedbo. Entering contests and making revisions on a couple of old ms. Last year I succeeded and wrote 1k/day during Speedbo and am hoping for a repeat!

  52. My goal is 1000 words a day, five days a week.

    But the Model T keeps breaking down.


  53. Wow, good for you Kaybee!! And for finding time even in your work day!

  54. Impressed snd depressed by the runners among us! Actually you encourage me!

  55. I guess I don't fit any of those plans because I can't write seven days consecutively. I'm somewhere in the intermediate zone with word count, but I definitely have to outline first. When I get on a roll creating an outline, my word count can soar to 2,000 in an afternoon. Thanks, Tina and Seekerville, for the encouragement today. Now, I'm jazzed to get to my writing time pretty soon. :-)

  56. I loved this post--the first time and today. Tina, thank you for the exhortation to cross the finish line! I needed this nudge to keep moving forward.

    As a reader, I only have time to read 2-3 books a month. Sigh. I have so many books waiting for my eyes to read their words!

    As a writer, I'm brainstorming a new story, but also working to revise the one I wrote last year. I simply need more time. When I'm writing my rough draft, I usually write 2 scenes a day-—4-5 days a week. That equates to about 3500 words.

  57. Yes, Rose!! Going to RWANYC!! And had a workshop approved with other authors!!

  58. An accountability partner is a great idea , Carolyne! And great to see you in Seekerville!

  59. Dally, that's a great idea for a post. How different authors START!

  60. Jackie Smith and Marianne! You read a lot of books. Wow!

  61. Wilani? 15???? Note to self.. Write faster!

  62. I'm like you, Jeannie. My TBR pile is insane!!

  63. Perfect timing for a re-look at this blog...I'm trying to up my production. Key word: TRYING!

    Your wisdom and tips on endurance training will help.

    Eldest daughter is training for a Half Ironman. I'm not 100% in favor of mother's heart worries. BUT, today I was gushing with enthusiastic praise when she completed a 30-mile, training bike ride. I'm not going to undermine her progress.

    I, too, used to be a runner. Loved it! Four miles was my max, with a daily two mile minimum. Those were the days. Don't remember why I stopped.

    Congrats on getting your workshop accepted for the RWA Conference. You rock!

  64. I love the posts about writing schedules. I would definitely be in the beginner category. It is a bit different for me, though, as I am still writing short stories and have a couple a month at least that I want to do in addition to starting a novel. So I need to include that in my schedule in addition to writing so many words for a novel. Also, with my subbing schedule and working some evenings at the mall, each day is just a bit different, so I have to schedule differently depending on what my schedule looks like that day. I have come up with something I am going to try for the month of February.

    As for reading, I read about 40 books a year, give or take. There are way more books I want to read than I will get to in my lifetime, but I will keep at it!

    Please enter me into the drawing for the Amazon card.

  65. Love, love, LOVE this post. I'm adding it to my favorites. I'm going to challenge myself and go for the intermediate plan.

  66. I'm so glad all you authors have these word count goals! That means readers like me can have "book goals" like reading at least one book a week! This week I've actually read THREE books but I've been sick so I'm reading more since I am just lying around! Keep up the good work ladies!

  67. Oh Debbie. Once in my life I would love to do a shorter-version of an Ironman but I can't swim well. Do you think that could be a problem?

    Wish her daughter well. Shows a lot of dedication. Awesome!

  68. Well this is truly inspiring.

    I'm going to start writing more. I really am.

    I've gotta go now and write.

    Well done Teenster!

  69. My current plan is to write 9000 words a month. This is tons more than I've ever written a month before and I'm hoping to build from that.

  70. I am so grateful for this repost! I am going to go with the Beginners plan. I can't wait to see where things go!

    I would also love to enter the drawing.

    Thank you!

  71. Way to go Becky B!!! Start at the beginning and do not stop.

    Becky D, you will have a Love Inspired book done by summer!

  72. The iron man! WOW. I am ready for the slug writer. From my work desk to my office desk.

  73. I remember reading this post the first time. I remember because running scares me more than writing does!

    Reading doesn't scare me so I'm in for the gift card. Thanks, Tina. :)

  74. Oh and my plan is 1k a day. Every day. Without fail. More is good, but 1k is essential.

  75. This is just as inspiring and challenging as the first time around. Thank you, Tina! You are a born encourager!

    I try to do 1500 a day when I'm drafting, but some days it's 500, some days it's 3K. Just depends on time limits and where I am in the story. I'm fixing to see just how fast I can revise and edit 85,000 words, lol. I just hope it's passable by the end of February. Pushing for it!

    We're getting close to the month of hearts, flowers and candies. That should give us romance authors some writing fuel for the journey. :) Speaking of romance... I'm looking forward to the movie Old Fashioned. Looks super sweet. Definitely a lot of inspiration for writing about tender feelings there.

    I'd love to be entered for the gift card! :)

  76. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary Was that quote in the original post? I wonder if I mentioned then how much I like it. Gotta go add it to my quotes list.

    That's an awesome statistic about 2000 words a day equaling 12 Love Inspireds a year.

    My training plan is to stick with what I have finally determined works for me. The other part of my training plan is cheering everyone else on :-)

    Nancy C

  77. The one K is the Special K plan.


  78. You do what you can and do it as often as you can, Meghan. That's me too.

  79. Thank you, Natalie, for the kind words.

    Coach Tina

    That reminds me..I am so far behind. Hoped to get another Boot Camp Manual out this month. ARRGH!

  80. I was a runner, Jackie. WAS being the operative word.

    We could run together virtually.

  81. Tina, Thanks for reposting this archived post.

    I'm editing, but when I edit, I allow my mind the freedom to start plotting the next book. I'll be trying this late next month.

    I'll be looking out for your workshop at RWA 2015. Congratulations.

  82. I love this! I'm going to try the beginning writing program!


  83. I love this. I can only respond as a reader, but I love the goal setting and the idea of consistency. I love to set goals for reading. Just 20-30 minutes a day adds up over time. This also inspires me with scrapbooking. Some every day. Thanks for the encouragement.

  84. HAPPY FRIDAY! I enjoyed this encouraging article on endurance. The race of life does become long at times. It's so important to keep our eyes of the finish line!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  85. I liked that quote from Abe Lincoln.. As a reader I average 2 to 3 books a week. But I think The Heretic will take a week to get through.. please put me in the drawing for the Gift Card... thanks

  86. Okay, you've convinced me, Tina. I'm going to go for the beginners level since I have a full-time day job and other responsibilities. I need to be realistic. :)
    I'm curious why you stopped running and if you're now running again? I started running about six months ago, every day for five miles. I've worked up to nine miles last week, not every day though. Who's got the time for that? :)

  87. writing 2,000 words a day that equals 12 Love Inspired contemporary romances a year. Now that is pretty impressive statistics.Best of luck Tina Radcliffe with your writing goals. Yes, please enter me in the drawing for the gift card. Have a wonderful day ladies.