I’ve learned three things from writing marathons:
1. I can trust my basic prose level to sound okay on first draft, without me paying too much attention to it as it flows out. I need to save my concentration for keeping the whole story in mind. Doing paper edits before the marathon helps a lot on thinking about the story’s shape; so do the comments I get from my workshop on the partial. Making notes after those comments and edits, on specifically what I need to include before the novel’s end, also helps a lot. The notes can be lather, rinse, repeat at each stage of the writing process.
2. Breaks are necessary for me, even in a marathon, even if the breaks are only standing up after an hour or so to put away part of a load of laundry. That’s one kind of break. The other is finishing a large section, then taking a think-break and making notes on the next section, so I don’t have to waste time flailing when I sit back down again to write. I can enforce my think-breaks by, for example, trapping myself downstairs waiting for my laundry to finish, with no entertainment but the notebook and pen.
3. I can write a lot in a short period if I need to, but never as much as I wish I could. I have to remind myself not to have wildly unrealistic expectations; it helps to know what I’ve managed to accomplish in the past.
Excellent points. The most important thing for a writing marathon is to know yourself. Sometimes doing writing challenges and the like can help you learn about your writing habits as well.
As for me, in running and in writing, slow and steady definitely fits my style. I wish I could sprint to the finish, but I'm the tortoise in this game.
The most important thing for a writing marathon is to know yourself.
That's a quotable quote!
I am usually a tortoise, but every once in a while, I need to do a marathon.