140 in 140

I’m a writer, a label that often makes me feel as unworthy as when I first started running thirty years ago. I considered myself a jogger then; runners, I thought, win medals. For most of my life—spent largely in a financial career I never wanted—I believed the same about writing. Writers publish novels.

But if running has taught me anything about writing, it’s this: training is everything.

To run a marathon I train gradually, building speed and distance over time. The goal is simply to finish.

Writing this way deflates the all-or-nothing realm of perfectionism. Pressure-free writing trains us for the next step. Blogs teach tighter prose. Short fiction leads to a novel. Contest submissions prepare us for rejection.

At the start line of my first marathon in San Francisco so many years ago, my husband, an accomplished racer, asked me this: When does a jogger become a runner? Heart pounding, I had no answer.

“When you pin the first race number on your chest,” he told me. “Put one foot in front of the other and repeat.” His words propelled me to the finish line and inspire me in every race.

When I write, I put one word after another and repeat. And yet, I still wonder: When does a writer become a “real” writer?

It’s simple: When our words inspire others.

I train to run. I train to write. And if my words inspire, then I am a writer.

Enter the soul of a writer, runner, caregiver & beyond in my new #flashwriting project, “140 in 140.” Follow me on Twitter for 140 days of 140-character microessays.