The best way finish writing a novel … train for a marathon!

Let’s start with the obvious, completing a novel is difficult and there often seems to be a never-ending supply of distractions to drag you away from the computer or the writing desk. I know the story that I wish to write and I’ve completed a draft of the book, but as almost every writer will tell you, that seems to be just the beginning.

After carrying the story with me for more than a year and thinking about the characters and the way it is currently structured, I’ve decided to make some significant changes as I plow through the editing process. That leads me to the dilemma of the day, time. More than anything, I want to finish the novel by the end of the summer and have it ready for an agent and editor (now there’s a dream).

But having said that, I can’t or won’t ignore the responsibilities I have to my family, my students, and the school where I work. I also don’t want to abandon the personal health gains I’ve made during the last year.

Here’s one possible solution – I often think about the plot and character issues on while riding my bicycle, but that too takes time and for nearly six months of the year my main focus while on the bike is to stay warm and complete the ride in one piece. Despite my constant whining, I think I’ve come up with the perfect solution.

For the past year, I have worked diligently to watch the amount and type of food that I’m eating and after losing more than 45 pounds, I have started running again. Who would’ve thought? this past weekend I ran in the Mother’s Day 5K and as I was rumbling around the corner and heading down Stevens Avenue, it came to me. I should work on my book as I  spend my time running, and then when I get home, sit down and take note of the ideas and changes I’d like to make or add to my stories. It seems simple and I think it just might work. For the next six months, I’m going to document the process (here) and we’ll see.

There I am near the front of the pack (blue shirt – gray hair) at the beginning of the Mother’s Day 5K – Photo courtesy of Andrea Merchant

With any kind of luck, I’ll finish editing my novel and complete a few more road races. Right now, I am planning on running the Beach to Beacon in August and then the Maine Marathon (I am doing the half) at the end of September. About then, I should also be finished with the book. As a runner who more than qualifies for the master’s division (55+ years of age) I plan to run no more than four days per week, any more than that and I think my body will betray me and break down, and I’ll still ride my bike two days a week and then rest completely on Mondays.

I’ll give it a month and if this training and writing schedule works out, I’ll let you know. Thanks for listening to my first-world problems and if you happen to see me on the roads of Saco or Portland, or at a race, please say hi.

Stay tuned – as always, if I think it’s interesting, I’ll write about it.

Thanks again for reading my stories and as always, you may purchase my novel, Homecoming: A Soldier’s Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption at your local, independent bookstore or online:, or

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David Arenstam

About David Arenstam

Originally from away, but here to stay - Maine is my home and I love writing stories about the people and places from my end of the state. I am a teacher and writer and my first novel, "Homecoming: A Soldier's Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption" is available now at