Friday, December 27, 2019

Whether You’re Walking or Writing, the Journey’s the Same

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

When you walk in endless circles on an indoor track, there isn’t much too look at, so you study people. Record cold forced my husband and me to abandon our morning walks in the neighborhood and retreat to the shelter of a nearby recreation center. Within three days, I’d identified the regulars and learned their names. Watching them, I realized that a writers’ life lesson was playing itself out in front of me.

Pat is the first man on the track each morning. He’s recovering from a recent health setback and walks with a stutter step, cradling his left arm close to his chest. Exercise isn’t fun or easy for him, but he knows it’s important. Before I can stuff my ear buds in my ears and click Play, he’s already begun his laborious trek around the track.

Like Pat, writers often encounter setbacks on their journey. Maybe every editor on our list rejects the manuscript we’ve labored over for years. Disappointment cripples us, making forward progress hard. Some days we struggle to bang out a coherent sentence. We find it hard to bounce back from a rejection. Pat’s example reminds me to look at rejections as redirections and persevere, even when it’s hard.

Betty was one of the first walkers we met at the center. Petite and grey haired, this spunky grandma has to be in her mid-seventies. She’s not fast, nor is she graceful, but she’s committed. Thousands of walkers have come and gone over the years, but Betty’s outlasted them all. She’s walked one mile a day, every day, for the past 15 years. She estimates she’s walked more than 5,400 miles—one mile at a time.

Betty reminds me that slow and steady also wins the publishing race. We may not be the fastest or the flashiest writer, yet if we write 200 words a day, we can complete a 73,000-word manuscript in a year. If we write 250 words a day and take the weekends off, we can still complete a 65,000-word manuscript in twelve months. 

I urged a friend to take the plunge and write the book she’s always dreamed of writing. “It’ll take me five years to write a book! Do you know how old I’ll be in five years if I write a book?”

“Do you know how old you’ll be in five years if you don’t write a book?” I asked. She found it hard to argue with my logic.

Margie and Mert arrive at the rec center together, walk in step, and hold each other accountable to show up every day. Although the sign clearly says, No walking abreast, they do it anyway. They’ve discovered that those who exercise with a friend are less likely to quit.

Margie and Mert’s partnership looks a lot like writers who have discovered the joy of writing with a buddy. Writing compatriots cheer us on by their example, nudge us when we get lazy, and refuse to let us quit. When their career speeds up, they bump draft us, introducing us to agents, editors, and markets we could have never met on our own. 

Sidney’s another regular to the track. I secretly call him Superman. Every time he whizzes by, I remember those famous words, Faster than a speeding bullet . . . . I don’t know if he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he can pass most of us twice in one lap. If I had to pick him out of a lineup, I could do it – if I was allowed to identify him from the back. It’s the only view of him I’ve ever seen.

We’ve all encountered Sidneys on our writing journey. They’re at the pinnacle of their career, cranking out books faster than we can write a grocery list. They write, speak, podcast, consult, teach, and edit—and look good while doing it. Barely breaking a sweat, they leap over publishing hurdles, dodge rejections, and cross the finish line before we finish our one sheet. Their success both intimidates and encourages us, making us wonder if we could ever do what they do.

My last walker/writer comparison is a new visitor to the gym. She generated a lot of attention recently, looking like she’d stepped off the pages of Runner’s Monthly. She wore cool clothes, expensive running shoes, and a fancy watch that measured her heart rate, cardiac output, calorie burn, and oxygen levels. She hit the track at a fast clip but left twenty minutes later, exhausted and shaking her head. “I quit,” she muttered. “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too hard.”

The writer equivalent of Miss Runner’s Monthly buys all the right stuff, attends a writers conference or critique group meeting, and wins a contest or two, but because she doesn’t consistently show up, she doesn’t succeed. 

Pat, Betty, Margie, Mert, and Sidney are inspiring examples of people who set goals and worked toward them—in their own way and at their own pace. Miss Runner’s Monthly reinforced what I suspected—the only way to fail is to quit. 

Where are you on your writing journey? Gaining ground after a setback? Slowly making progress? Paired with a buddy, or zipping long? 

Regardless of what goes on around you, set your eyes on your goal and keep writing. Don’t compare yourself to others. Recognize that Christian publishing is a team effort. When one writer wins, we all win. We’re members of the same team striving to reach the prize—together. And what a prize it will be.

The apostle Paul, one of the greatest writers of all time, summed it up this way: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-15).

Writers ready? On your mark, get set, WRITE!


Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of several devotional books, including Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible releases in the spring of 2020 with Our Daily Bread Publishing. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


  1. What a fun and informative post.
    It is amazing the small things you notice when you pay attention. And so much wisdom from observing human nature in a race track.
    Great post, Lori.

  2. Thank you, Ingmar. May God richly bless your writing journey in this new year!

  3. An adage that's seen me through many trials and challenges in this life my friend; "Quitters never win, and Winners never quit." Thanks for this gentle reminder of how this also applies to my writing career. God's blessings Ms. Lori.

    1. Yes, Sir, there's only one way to fail. And, by golly, we're not quitting! May God be glorified through your writing this year, J.D.

  4. I particularly relate to the friend who used age as an excuse. With my 70th birthday looming I ask myself a different question: Is this the best use of my remaining time for God?

    1. I love that, Pam. The older I get, the more conscious I become of my mortality. May we make make every day count for His glory!

  5. Thank you for this, Lori. I was SO blessed. I relate to those people on the walking track so much, and particularly enjoyed your application of the Philippians passage to writing. Onward and upward! Thanks again!