This summer, I climbed two 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado with my longtime friend and fellow writer Jon Anderegg.
While hiking Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, I discovered several similarities between what my feet were doing on the trail and what my hands do each day on the keyboard. I hope this post encourages any author who has decided to embark on this long journey we call writing.
1. Don’t do it alone: While you could hike 14,000 feet by yourself, it can be dangerous (and boring). Jon and I spent more than a dozen hours together climbing both mountains, giving us time for good conversation. Similarly, an author could finish a manuscript without any support, but having a community of writers to edit and encourage you along the way makes a major difference.
2. Take one step at a time: There is no shortcut to hiking 14,000 feet or writing at least 70,000 words. At the end of the day, the only way a hiker summits that peak or a writer finishes that ending is by one step and word at a time. You can’t write or hike by sprinting. It’s more like training for a marathon. You must put in your time, step by step, word by word, until the end.
3. Enjoy the journey: It took me about five years to publish my first novel, and it’s taken me more than two years to finish my second book. So many times I wanted to give up, but the joy of the journey kept me going. Developing a world, creating a character, finding that perfect word—that’s what makes this all worth it. Hiking is similar. Despite the pre-dawn mornings and pain in your legs, you have to be able to marvel at the wildflowers along the way.
If not, you’ll never reach that summit and see the other mountains just waiting for you to explore.