8 ways writing a novel is like climbing a mountain

Ann Charles

Although this author’s mountain-climbing experience is limited to reading books and watching documentaries about it, the sport has a lot more in common with writing than you might realize.

by Ann Charles

I enjoy mountain climbing—vicariously, that is, from my comfortable couch by watching documentaries or reading books on the subject. During a recent binge, I gobbled up everything I could find online about climbing mountains over 8,000 meters (26,000 feet). It was then that I realized how similar writing books is to climbing mountains. I mean mentally, of course, not physically. Although it does take a lot of diligence to sit at the computer for hours a day and compose pages of what we hope is marvelous storytelling, and not drivel.

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How can writing and climbing possibly be similar? For starters, no matter the size of the mountain, climbing it takes planning, time, and expertise. The same is true for writing. Below are several other “same as” examples pulled from tips I’ve learned from mountaineers:

  1. Be flexible. Allow changes to your schedule due to unforeseen roadblocks.
  2. Stick to your own rules, not someone else’s, so you make good, solid choices.
  3. When a larger group is going in the other direction, don’t be tempted to doubt yourself and follow them. Follow your own instincts.
  4. No matter how skilled you are, remember you can’t control the risks of the job.
  5. Do not make snap decisions. They can be deadly to you and your career.
  6. When it comes to a big project, break it down into days and steps. Sometimes you might have to regroup before you move forward again.
  7. Keep in mind that more experience often equals wiser decisions.
  8. Know that persistence and perseverance are required to make it not only to the top, but also back down again in one piece so that you can climb again.

No matter the size of the mountain, climbing it takes planning, time, and expertise.

Climbing a mountain is only half of the task. The same can be said of writing a manuscript. Until the work is published, your job is not complete (and let’s not forget the promotion needed to push a book before and after it’s released).

In the end, passion is key, whether you are pushing toward a mountain summit or publication. Try to embrace the journey and the process along the way.

Ann Charles is a USA Today–bestselling author who writes character-driven fiction full of mystery, comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and supernatural mayhem. When she’s not climbing mountains vicariously from under a blanket on her couch, she’s arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.

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