What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – by Haruki Murakami

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly.

But I knew that if I did things halfheartedly and they didn’t work out, I’d always have regrets.

I think I’ve been able to run for more than twenty years for a simple reason: It suits me.

But no matter how strong a will a person has, no matter how much he may hate to lose, if it’s an activity he doesn’t really care for, he won’t keep it up for long. Even if he did, it wouldn’t be good for him.

The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.

It’s pretty obvious: talent. No matter how much enthusiasm and effort you put into writing, if you totally lack literary talent you can forget about being a novelist. This is more of a prerequisite than a necessary quality.

If I’m asked what the next most important quality is for a novelist, that’s easy too: focus— the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment.

After focus, the next most important thing for a novelist is, hands down, endurance.

How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate— and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself?

If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that.

Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life— and for me, for writing as well.

No matter how much I write, though, I never reach a conclusion. And no matter how much I rewrite, I never reach the destination.

That’s life. Maybe the only thing we can do is accept it, without really knowing what’s going on.

What the world needs is a set villain that people can point at and say, “It’s all your fault!”

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