This is another recycled blog post. I originally posted it on Sean Hayden’s blog last spring.
I used to do a lot of endurance racing with my horse Sabaska. For those who don’t know, endurance races are really long trail rides in short periods of time. For example 50 miles in twelve hours. They are organized by the American Endurance Ride Conference or AERC. The motto of endurance racing is To Finish is to Win. Essentially, as long as you come in under the time limit with a healthy horse you’ve won. (Note they don’t worry about the condition of the rider too much. LOL).
Training for endurance takes hours and hours and more hours in the saddle. They say you should ride the number of miles in a week that you intend to ride in a competition. For example if you are training for 50 mile rides, you ride fifty miles in a week. If you’re training for 100 mile rides, you ride 100 miles in a week. Some of this will be on flat land, some steep, some will be at a walk, some at faster gates. Sometimes you’ll get off and run with your horse or walk behind them as they go down very steep terrain.
There is a lot to learn when you start out racing. You have to learn how to safely condition your horse, how to shoe your horse, what kind of tack to use, the different tricks and practices that help you and your horse make it through long distances in short periods of time safely. You study books, you talk to more experienced riders and you get your butt into the saddle and you ride. Your horse has to learn a lot too. She has to learn to drink whenever water is offered, eat often (this one isn’t hard) and to expect long hours of trotting with very brief rest periods. She also has to learn that just because you’re back at the trailer resting, it doesn’t mean you are done for the day.
It is a hell of a lot of fun.
Writing is a lot like endurance racing. Can you see how?
Training to write takes hours and hours in a chair, staring at a computer. You have to write, read books, do research and practice, practice practice. Your subconscious also has a lot to learn. It has to learn that just because you’re done for the night, doesn’t mean the story is over. It has to learn to concentrate for the entire story and help you get the novel out. The writer has to learn those skills too.
It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
Both take discipline. You can’t finish a fifty mile ride without practicing and you can’t finish a novel without a lot of work.
The great thing about endurance? You get a lot of time to think about novel ideas.
And the most important similarity. If you finish a story you win. 🙂