Saturday, December 31, 2022

We’ve Moved!

Hey there loyal reader! We are moving the content from this blogger site to our Writers Who Run website. I have enjoyed serving you for 13 years here on blogspot, but it’s time to consolidate and have the blog on our own website now.

I’ve evolved a lot over the last 13 years. What started out as an online writing journal to help me get more consistent has seen many iterations through the years: web design for authors, picture book contests, picture book reviews, I’ve offered critiques, held multiple contests, shifted into more running, and more novel writing tips.

The categories on this blog are:

Starting on January 1, 2023, we’ll continue to post lots of great content for writers and runners over on the new site with the following new categories.

  • WRITING (this will include similar topics as found in the plot arc library, story elements, and author’s life)


  • RUNNING (this is similar to the Writers Who Run category)


I’m excited to share this new endeavor with you. As we shift some of the existing content from this site to the new site, you’ll notice some of the blog posts will open in a new tab on the new website. We’re not taking the site down or removing any of the content; we’re just redirecting the best writing and running content over to the new Writers Who Run website. ENJOY! Happy 2023!

Keep writing, keep running.


Christie :)

Monday, December 19, 2022

Common Writing Fears and What to Do About Them

There are three big reasons why writers struggle to finish their books: fear, time, and focus. The hardest part about being an author may not be the physical act of writing or coming up with ideas, but facing all the fears that crop up as you go through the process. Writing is a long, slow process for most writers so it’s very likely you’ll face a few fears along the way and they may pop up more than once.

Unlike with the fears of water, heights, or spiders, writers may face a new fear popping up every other week. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, and so many more.

Common Fears Writers Face

Writers face a lot of the same fears as each other. That’s what makes them common fears. It’s normal. We fear that we won't finish our book, get it published, see it on bookstore shelves, and that readers will hate our sequels. We fear we won't make enough money to earn a living as a writer or that we’ll never win any awards. But here are the most common writing fears we face.
  • Fear of not being good enough. Do we even know enough to write a book? Can we tell a cohesive story that people will understand and enjoy?
  • Fear of rejection. If we’re not good enough, our stories will continue to get rejected, right? But rejection is a part of the game. ALL writers get rejected. Not everything we write will get published. Most things take time to find the right home.
  • Fear of failure. Even once we’re published, people will reject what we have to say and criticize our work. Maybe we won’t earn out our advance. Maybe we’ll get a smaller book deal later because of it.
  • Fear of nobody reading your book. Word of mouth is the best form of book advertisement, but if nobody reads it then there won’t be any word of mouth. Sales will flop. People need to read our books. That’s why we wrote it in the first place. If nobody reads our books, then what’s the point?
  • Fear of success. How can I keep doing interviews and answer all these emails while keeping up with my same writing pace? What if I run out of good ideas? What if the next book isn’t as good as the current one? What if it gets turned into a movie and I don’t approve of the actors or they twist the story’s meaning around? What if I can’t meet all my deadlines?

Our questions produce a lot of fears. Or is it the other way around. Either way, a little uncertainty is normal. Just don’t let your fears paralyze you. Keep writing!  

The Biggest Struggle As a Writer

The most difficult thing about being a writer is dealing with the constant onslaught of negative thoughts, fears, and doubts. Just about anyone can learn how to plot a story or add characterization, get more consistent and reach word count goals, or keep a rolling list of new ideas. But not everyone is equipped with a positive mindset.

I just bought the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. In chapter 6, he talks about how motivation is overrated and how our environment often matters more. Later in chapter 19, he shares how to stay motivated. Because clearly it’s still a component for creating good habits, staying positive, and facing your fears.

Writing fears are normal. Fears of failure, success, not being good enough, criticism, not finishing your book, rejection, and so much more plague many writers. It’s normal. The question is what to do about it? How do you overcome your fears? How do you keep writing in the face of fear?

Write anyway. Do it scared. Share successes with others. It will build your confidence. Confidence breeds motivation. Confidence fights fear. Confidence is a belief and hope that all will turn out well no matter what happens. Because you’re good enough.

Ways to Overcome Your Fears About Writing

Get energized and excited to invite enthusiasm back into your life. THIS is what helps you keep going. Here are three ways to kick your fears to the curb and keep moving forward. 
  1. Share your wins. When you share every accomplishment (big or small) with others, you acknowledge that you are making progress toward your goals. It gives you confidence. Every confidence-boosting win you experience will help you overcome your fears and keep writing.
  2. Embrace progress, not perfection. When you write, you are constantly improving. Writing gives you experience. The sheer act of doing the work means you are progressing in the right direction. Fear stops you from writing. I give you permission to let perfection fly out the window. Of course, taking writing workshops helps you continue to learn and improve your craft too. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to your past self. You’ll see improvement. And that will strengthen your confidence too.
  3. Lastly, but definitely not least, attend a writing retreat! Going to a writing retreat is one of the BEST ways to fight your writing fears. You’ll meet lots of other people to share your writing wins with. If the retreat offers critique sessions, you’ll be able to find things in your manuscripts to improve and make it better. Everything you learn in writing workshops, and every win you have will give you more confidence, more excitement, more motivation, and more momentum to keep going. Fight your fears. Be brave. Attend a writing retreat.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)


Monday, December 12, 2022

Overcoming the Fear of Getting Your Manuscript Critiqued

I majored in Creative Writing in college so I quickly got used to giving and receiving critiques without making them personal. But for a lot of writers, that’s a difficult thing to accomplish, especially in the beginning.

I have friends who have told me their horror stories: showing up for their first-ever in-person professional writing critique, only to retreat to their room and cry for hours. But they said as hard as it was to hear the feedback, the person giving it was absolutely correct. My friends’ eyes were opened to how much work they had to do and how much they had to learn about writing.

It’s not so much about how to give a critique or how to implement someone else’s suggestions, but how to prepare mentally to receive one in the first place (or 21st place) so that you don’t take it personally.

After all, writing is about the READER.

The Importance of Getting a Critique

Beta readers and critique partners are the lifelines to taking your writing to the next level. Without feedback on your manuscripts, it’s hard to see your blind spots. Do you need help with characterization, plot, setting, tense, verb choice, weak sentence structure, point of view, theme, voice?

Getting a critique, or any kind of feedback (from another writer) is especially helpful in making your writing the best it can be. The reader needs to understand your story, poem, essay, or book in as few words as possible. And of course, when an editor gets a hold of your writing, there will be even more revision work to do. And you’ll be prepared for it.

When you’re able to accept constructive criticism (i.e. a critique), you’ll experience the following benefits…
  • See it for what it is – helpful feedback
  • Become a better writer
  • Make changes that can have a positive impact on your manuscripts
  • Increase your confidence as a writer
  • Earn the trust of your critique partners and/or beta readers because they’ll know they can be honest and you won’t take offense


Prepare to Receive Writing Feedback

Getting in the right mindset to receive feedback for your manuscript will help you incorporate the advice without taking it personally. Some feedback will resonate with you more than other comments. Remember that you don’t have to make every single change that is suggested to you. Knowing this makes it easier to hear the feedback without getting defensive.

If you feel the need to explain yourself, don’t. To put it simply, your writing wasn’t clear. Revise your writing so it’s clear to the reader. Be aware of your emotional state and create a positive mindset. You can prepare to receive feedback by adopting the following mantras.
  • I always seek feedback to consistently improve my writing.
  • I am committed to growing as a writer.
  • Feedback provides me with the opportunity to become a better writer.
  • I’m receiving this feedback because my critique partners want to help me polish my writing.
  • If I want to improve, feedback provides perspectives from others that can open my eyes to pitfalls or weaknesses in my writing.

Getting Your Manuscript Critiqued

Attending a writing retreat can be a safe place to find a new reader for your manuscript. Especially if you don’t know where else to look for feedback. Getting feedback from other writers is extremely important. Your family and friends may love you, but if they aren’t writers, or at the very least avid readers, they won’t be able to point out where your writing falls short or give suggestions for how to improve it.

No matter where you find a beta reader or a critique partner, keep the following tips in mind so that you take their feedback personally.
  1. Listen actively while the other person gives feedback and explains their thinking.
  2. Ask clarifying questions so you understand where they’re coming from.
  3. Take notes. Don’t interrupt.
  4. Consider the other person's point of view. Remember that revision creates polished writing.
  5. Let the critique sit for a while and allow reflection time. Then you can decide what suggestions to keep and what to ignore.
Whether you get a professional critique at a writer’s retreat (you can start planning for next year now) or find someone on social media to give you feedback, remember that they have your best interest at heart. Even if it makes you feel like crap and run to your room and cry for hours. That’s okay.

Give yourself some space to feel the pain. Then when you’re ready, pick yourself up and dust off the negativity so you can dive into your manuscript with fresh eyes and start making improvements. Start with the ones that make sense and resonate with you. Then keep going.


Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

Monday, December 5, 2022

Planning for a Spectacular 2023

December is the month most people start thinking about the next year. You could say I’m a bit of a planner. I’ve already planned out the BIG race I’m going to run in January 2027! But next year is 2023. As I think about planning a spectacular year, there are a few things I do to get in the right mindset.

Make a List of Your Goals

Writers and runners are driven by personal goals. Finish the novel. Revise the novel. Again. Create a book of poetry. Get your short story included in an anthology. Get an agent. Run your first 5k (or 10k). Find a running partner. Get faster. Join a gym. Run a new PR.

Start with the biggest plans first. For me, that’s the Writers Who Run Retreat in July. Everything I plan revolves around that. And of course, it includes a 5k and 10k race!

Identify whether your goals are habit goals or achievement goals. A good rule of thumb is to set one big goal per month or three per quarter. Having a list of your goals for the year will help you stay focused from month to month.

Use a Planner

Whether you use a physical planner, a digital calendar, or both, you need to set aside a couple hours this month to plan out your year. Block the time off and put it on your calendar to ensure you create a plan for next year beforehand.

Personally, I love shopping for planners and calendars and looking at all the fun new designs. Elements that would make the perfect planner for me:
  • Spiral-bound 
  • Monthly planning pages (Sunday to Saturday) 
  • Weekly planning pages 
  •  Monthly tabs 
  • Time slots for each day’s activities 
  • The days go from 7 am to 9 pm vertically down the page 
  • Days of the week are listed horizontally across a page spread 
  • Place to list yearly and monthly goals 
  • Pockets and stickers can be fun bonuses, but totally not necessary 

I’ve used lots of planners in the past and these four are ones that I’ve tried or want to try. 
They each check off several of my wishlist bullet points, but none of them have all. 
  1. Full Focus Planner (quarterly) by Michael Hyatt (sold online only, $50) 2020-2021 
  2. PlanAhead Planner (CVS, Walmart, and 9 more, $10-$15) 2022 
  3. Gallery Leather (B&N and online, $27) 2023 
  4. Legend Planner (Target and online, $33) 2024

Imagine Yourself Living Your Best Life

The people who end up living the life of their dreams don’t accidentally get there. They plan, work hard, and visualize it. I recently participated in a 7-day visualization challenge. As I was driving to work one busy Saturday afternoon, I visualized a parking spot opening up and as soon as I turned down an aisle, TWO spots opened up close to the front door!

The power of the imagination is powerful. Writers make a living from imagining whole new worlds! Imagine yourself living your best life, reaching your goals, and fulfilling your dreams. Imagine yourself finishing that novel. Winning first place in a local 5k race. Getting shortlisted with a writing award! The possibilities are endless.

It all begins with deciding what you want. So make a list of your goals and start visualizing. Then PLAN to make it happen in 2023! And maybe do what I did and put the Writers Who Run Retreat on your calendar for next July. I’d love to meet you in person!

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)


Monday, November 28, 2022

Creating More Time to Run (or Write)

I always hated when people would say, “We all have the same 24 hours a day.” While that may be true, it lacks sympathy for those who struggle with time management.

Living in today’s world implies that we are all busy. Very busy. Some of us are so busy, we’re overwhelmed, stressed, or filled with anxiety. Is that you?

As far as finding more time to write or run, it really comes down to priorities. Your characters need to have values and you need to know what they value so you can create amazing conflict for them.

But when it comes to real life – your life – we don’t need more conflict. We want more time. Time to write. Time to run. Even time (dare I say it?) to relax.

Analyze Your Time

To analyze your priorities, you need to analyze your time. Once, I wrote down EVERYTHING I did for a month – at work. As I tracked my time and what I did with it, I kept tabs in a chart on a spreadsheet. When I analyzed how I was spending my time, it was eye-opening! There were certain things I did too much of. Others I took too long to complete. Lots of distractions. I categorized my actions and revamped my day to reclaim two extra hours each day in productivity!

You can do the same thing. I wouldn’t do it for a whole month though, one to two weeks is plenty. The main purpose here is to not only analyze your time but also your priorities.
If you find that you are watching 3 hours of TV 4 days a week, but you are running for 30 minutes 2 days a week, then that sadly says you actually value entertainment (or at least watching TV or movies, even if educational) more than you value your running time.
If you go out to lunch or dinner with your spouse 3 times a week, maybe opt to make one of them a running date instead. Celebrate with a smoothie afterward!

You can make simple changes to get more running (and writing time).

Make Your Running a Habit

A lot of what I share with you relates not only to running, but also to your writing, especially when it comes to time, productivity, mindset, consistency, distractions, and so much more.

Here are a few tips to get you started: 
  1. Run (or write) first thing in the morning - it’s often easier to do before the rest of the day crowds out your time. 
  2. Try to do it at the same time every day - it’s easier to become a habit when it’s based on the same triggers each day. 
  3. Do it daily. Or at least regularly. Maybe you write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and you run Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Whatever schedule you choose for yourself, be consistent. 
  4. Include other people. This helps you be more accountable. Have a training partner or a writing buddy. Go for runs together. Have Zoom writing sessions together - in silence. You may need more than one person - a running buddy and a different writing partner. 
  5. Be flexible when adding the activities you want to become a habit on your calendar. Leaving gaps on your calendar can account for all the unplanned life interruptions that naturally happen and we never save any space for them. 
 Lastly, read Atomic Habits by James Clear

Attend a Writing (and Running) Retreat

Since we’re talking about finding more time to run, attend a writing AND RUNNING retreat, such as the Writers Who Run Retreat. Honestly, this is one of the BEST ways to find more time to write and run.

We run every morning TOGETHER. Lots of accountability buddies! And every afternoon, there is time scheduled into your day for writing. While you may not be able to achieve this in your day to day life, the retreat is the perfect time and place to get motivated, strengthen (or begin) daily habits, and create real momentum in your writing and running life. Hope to see you there!

Keep writing, keep running.

XO, Christie :)

What’s one of your priorities? Share in the comments.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)


Monday, November 21, 2022

How to Become a Faster Runner

So you want to be a faster runner? There are things you can do and all kinds of workouts you can incorporate into your regular running routine to help. But first, here’s the running formula for speed and pace, as it relates to time and distance.

  • Speed = distance / time (6 mph)
  • Pace = time / distance (10 min. miles)
Here are the two formulas for time, if that’s the unknown variable you want to find.
  • Time = distance / speed 
  • Time = distance x pace
And there are two formulas for distance, if that’s what you’re trying to calculate.
  • Distance = time / pace
  • Distance = time x speed
It really just depends on if you’re a pace person or a speed person. But either way, if you know the pace, you can figure out the speed and if you know the speed, you can figure out the pace.

SPEED (dist./time)

PACE (time/dist.)

5 mph

12 minute mile

5.5 mph

11 min. mile

6 mph

10 min. mile

6.5 mph

9 min. mile

7 mph

8.5 min. mile

7.5 mph

8 min. mile

8 mph

7.5 min. mile

8.5 mph

7 min. mile

9 mph

6.7 min. mile

9.5 mph

6.3 min. mile

10 mph

6 min. mile

Of course you can get even faster than the numbers on this chart. So let’s find out how.

3 Types of Runs to Make You a Faster Runner

The three types of runs that will make runners faster are:
  1. Speed workouts
  2. Long runs
  3. Hill repeats

The most obvious type of workout runners need to utilize to get faster is speed work. Speed workouts come in many forms and varieties. You can do fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”) where you decide to run to a tree, a mailbox, or a street sign as fast as you want, then you go at your normal pace, then you’ll do another fartlek, as many as you want. It’s interval training without strict intervals or speeds. Or you can find hundreds of speed workouts online with pre-defined speed intervals.

Adding longer runs to your repertoire can be as simple as a 6-miler once a week, or you can work up to 10-15 mile runs. You can certainly work it into your plans for training for longer races and even create an off-season where you don’t include long runs.

Hill workouts can be done on a treadmill set to an incline or outside. If done outside, find a location where there’s a significant hill. Then you run up and down it over and over again. Hill repeats strengthen your legs while giving you an opportunity to practice your form. Speed is NOT the goal on the hill workouts. It’s the act of running up the hill that will make you faster on flat workouts. 

The Essential Workout Runners Need

One essential workout runners need to get faster is strength training, or weight training. Strengthening your muscles as well as stretching them will keep you balanced and ultimately make you faster. Running requires lots of work, effort, and energy expenditure in your calves, quads, hams, and glutes. So be sure to do a lower body workout at least once a week, followed by adequate time to S-T-R-E-T-C-H those all-important muscles for your favorite cardio activity: running. 

Two Things Most Runners Don’t Think About

Two things most runners don’t think about that will improve your speed is to focus on your form and to incorporate recovery days. I can’t go into all the specifics of proper form here because it can get pretty nuanced, but it includes landing on the balls of your feet (not your heels), leaning forward from your ankles (not your waist), and loose arms with relaxed shoulders. 

Lastly, definitely remember to include recovery days. YOU NEED DAYS OFF! Even if it’s only one day a week. You don’t need to be completely immobile on your days off. You can walk a mile or two at a leisurely pace. Or do yoga. Or a simple 20-minute stretch routine. Just don’t run at least one or two days a week. It helps your muscles recover and come back stronger. It also helps prevent injuries. Because who wants to show up race day morning and get an overuse injury during your warmup? Rest days are for recovery. Just imagine your muscles getting stronger and it will help you “stay still” for a couple days.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

What’s your favorite speed workout? Share in the comments.

Keep on keepin' on...


Monday, November 14, 2022

Training for Your First 5k

I started running in college. There was a jogging class taught by the same professor whose group I was in for my Freshman orientation. He also taught my health class, which was a required elective. He had lost almost 200 pounds when he was in college – by running. And now he was a lean, mean, fitness machine. So I signed up. (I also took a weight training class and an aerobics class with him.)

At the end of my jogging class, there was a race. People were walking faster than me. As a 20-something year-old, it was embarrassing. But I did it. If you’re gearing up to run a 5k race, here’s a few tips to remember.

Why Train for a 5k

After having severely sprained my ankle earlier this year, I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. Ever since I decided which ultramarathon to run four years from now, I feel like I need a fresh start to build up my stamina again. Thankfully the body has muscle memory, so it hopefully won’t be as hard training to build back up to running three miles as it was the very first time I ever ran that distance.

So why should you train for a 5k race? Three big reasons come to mind.
  1. If you’ve never run a 5k race before, you should train.
  2. If you haven’t run 3 miles in a very long time, you should train.
  3. If you want to get faster and win the race (or try to place in your age bracket), you should train.
Training for a race, no matter what the distance, is the smart thing to do to help prevent injuries. Injuries happen from underuse, from overuse, and from accidental missteps (we won’t talk about jumping off escalators - even though it was just a small hop and I was already at the bottom).

Build Up Your Stamina

You may have heard of the Couch to 5k program. They take people who don’t run and get them off the couch to run their first 5k. The main benefit of training for a race no matter what the reason (first time, not run in a long time, or want to win), is to build up your stamina so you can feel good about completing the race no matter what your time ends up being.

There are 7 ways to build up your running strength and stamina while training.
  1. Increase time (run 30 minutes instead of 20)
  2. Increase distance (run 3 miles instead of 2)
  3. Increase hills (add hill training once a week)
  4. Interval training (run 5.0 for 4 min., run 7.0 for 1 min.)
  5. Increase speed or pace (run 6.0 mph instead of 5.5 mph)
  6. Cross training (basketball, swimming, yoga, cycling, etc)
  7. Strength training (muscle strength is important even for runners)
All good training schedules basically use a combination of the above methods to increase your running stamina and prepare you for a good race result.

Create a Training Schedule

Even if you’re not training for a race, your running routine is, in essence, also a training routine, right? Two factors come to mind when creating a training schedule for your running routine. 
  1. What is your goal?
  2. How often do you run each week?
If your goal is to go from 0 to 5k, that training schedule is going to be hugely different from one that is for someone with a goal of running an ultramarathon. However, if the person who wants to run an ultra hasn’t run very far or very often in quite some time, then they should start off with the goal of going from 0 to 5k first.

The further the race distance you’re training for, the more important it is to create a strong base. If you run 5 or 6 miles a day 4 or 5 days a week, then you have a very strong running base already. When I was training for my very first marathon, I ran 3 to 4 days a week (including the long run), and averaged 2-4 miles per run (excluding the long run - obviously I built up to longer distances each week for that).

You can easily create your own training plan for any distance when you consider your base mileage and your goal mileage. There are lots and lots of plans online to help you if you’ve never run a race before, but if you have, then you don’t really need someone else’s chart because you have experience on your side. Unless you want to get faster and win. In that case, yes, find a training plan (and maybe a few running partners) to help push you.

Here’s one simple option for training for your first (or next) 5k race. I recommend building up the base first in case you have to adjust things, and then find a race to run because you’ll already be ready and won’t have the added stress of a time limit (or the ticking time bomb as we writers like to say).

A 6-week training chart to build up to 3 miles of running, with a run/walk combo. My goal is to run for 9 minutes, followed by 1 minute of walking (a strategy from Jeff Galloway) for 3 miles. So here you go. And of course – ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

*R2 = run for 2 minutes. W3 = walk for 3 minutes.








*R2, W3

1 mile

R2, W3

2 miles

R2, W3

2 miles

R3, W3

2 miles

R3, W3

2 miles

R3, W2

2 miles

R3, W2

2 miles

R3, W1

2 miles

R4, W1

2 miles

R4, W1

2 miles

R5, W2

2 miles

R5, W3

3 miles

R6, W3

3 miles

R6, W3

3 miles

R6, W2

3 miles

R7, W2

3 miles

R8, W2

3 miles

R9, W1

3 miles

From there, I can increase distance, increase time spent running, or increase my speed. I can also throw in interval training and hill training. All of which I plan to do to train for my crazy Wild Things Race 50k ultra in January 2027.

Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

How many 5k races have you run? Zero? Forty or more? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...



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