5 Reasons Writing a Book is Like Climbing a 14er
For someone with an admittedly short attention span (me), I seem to choose pursuits in life that require an awful lot of perseverance. So today, I’m going to talk about 5 Reasons Writing a Book is Like Climbing a 14er.
For the non-mountaineers reading this, a 14er is a mountain peak above 14,000 feet in altitude. In Colorado, where I live, there are 53 of them. I like hiking in general, but climbing a 14er is not your average scenic hike. We’re talking major elevation gains and decreasing oxygen, people. You have to want this.
At first, it might seem like writing a book—an activity during which you spend a great deal of time with your butt planted in a chair—would not be very much at all like a wilderness excursion requiring considerable physical conditioning.
But that would be wrong. Here are 5 ways in which these two activities are similar:
#1 Initial excitement of planning/deciding to do it.
Getting an idea for a new book is exciting. You’re full of ideas, planning new characters, imagining what it will be like when it’s done, and you feel powerful. You know it will be work, but the idea is just so good, it will be worth it. Deciding to climb a mountain, and picking which one, is exciting, too. You’re looking at fantastic photographs other hikers have posted, planning which routes will get you there, what physical training you need to do in the meantime, and imagining the sense of achievement when you stand at the top.
#2 At some point, you are going to ask yourself “why am I doing this?”
Every writer I know of has, at some point, looked at what they’ve written and lost hope. For one reason or another (your plot didn’t hold together as well as you initially thought, or the market for your type of story has just tanked, or any number of other writer-related insecurities), you want to abandon the project.
At some point, while hiking a 14er, many hikers (myself included) are out of breath, battered by wind, out of the ideal shape we promised ourselves we’d be in, and looking ahead at the miles yet to climb, thinking, “why did I think this was a good idea?” It would be much easier to just turn around and head back down…
(Note: with hiking, there can be safety concerns that lead to abandoning a hike. Know the difference between perseverance and foolishness. Lightning, in particular, is no joke if you’re above tree line. If a storm is approaching, get to safety. The mountain will still be there another day.)
#3 You keep going anyway.
Even when every sentence is a struggle, you keep writing. You may walk away from the screen for a little while, but you eventually come back and re-attack the project. Maybe you do have to do some editing, and work on your craft. Or maybe you give yourself permission for that first draft to suck miserably, knowing that you can always edit it later. Whatever. You keep writing, because you know that walking away would lead to regrets you don’t want to live with.
Same with 14ers. If you want to make it to the top, you keep planting one foot in front of the other. You rest, drink some water, and Just. Keep. Going.
When you summit a 14er with someone, you share a bond with that person forever. The more epic the mountain, the more epic the bond. Hikers also tend to help one another out—it’s the classic man vs. nature struggle, and all men (and women) on the mountain are in it together.
Authors do the same thing—at least, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of authors who think it’s important to help each other be the best we can be, whether that means helping a new writer improve her craft, or helping promote a new book you’re excited about.
#5 The Ultimate Accomplishment
There is no feeling that beats the feeling of typing the words “The End.” Except, maybe, the feeling of reaching the summit of a tough 14er. There’s a reason authors shout it from the rooftops when their book hits the shelves (or goes live at Amazon) – they’ve worked for that day. Same reason you’ll see summit photos plastered all over the walls and social media pages of an avid hiker.
It’s also the feeling that makes both writers and hikers bask in the glory for only a short while…because before long, they need to start planning the next book, or the next peak to climb.
Entrusted: A Relic Guardians Novel
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ENTRUSTED by Allegra Gray is a stunning historical Young Adult masterpiece of suspense, hope, and determination. This story follows orphaned Audrey as she’s tasked with keeping ancient relics safe from tyrannical hands and their unholy deeds. With the help of a charming adventurer, Tobias, Aubrey must do all she can to protect the relics she’s been entrusted to guard…even if it costs her life. Read the rest of this entry »