Interview

How This Writer Gets Her Best Ideas While Running

Writer Spotlight: An interview with Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

Kimberley Payne
Nov 8, 2019 · 7 min read
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Personal photo of Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

When did you join Medium? What influenced your decision to join?

I initially joined Medium in April 2016 when I became a Thrive Global contributor. I became a Medium member in April 2019.

When did you join Koinonia? What attracted you to this publication?

I was invited by Janis Cox to submit my piece “Running Inspiration in the Bible,” to Koinonia after it was published in Medium. I was happy to see it also published in Koinonia.

How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

I have been writing all my life. My first freelance article was published in 1993 in a major nursing publication. I got paid $150! Other publications followed.

I taught college writing for many years. At the rank of instructor, my two original peer-reviewed original research studies were published in the American Journal for Pharmaceutical Education, and my book, English for Pharmacy Writing and Oral Communication, was published by Lippincott Wilson & Wilkins (2008).

I am published in International Journal for Human Caring (2014). I am published in Spiritus — A Journal of Christian Spirituality. My article, “The Ascetic Life of the Ultrarunner” was published in 2018.

Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

I don’t think anyone influenced my decision to write but I had two great English teachers. My 5th grade English teacher Mrs. Campbell loved my writing. She thought I was very creative and a good storyteller. Mr. McNaughton, my 8th grade English teacher, also loved my writing. He was my favorite English teacher. I never imagined I would become a writer but I’m glad I am.

Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

I get ideas and inspiration from life experiences — the good, the bad, the ugly, and all their blessings. I never run out of ideas.

Some of my best ideas come to me while running or in my sleep. I record my ideas on my iPhone while running. I keep a notepad and pencil next to my bed to jot down writing ideas that pop up in my sleep.

What do you like most / least about writing?

I love everything about writing. To quote my favorite writer Paulo Coelho — “I write to empty my mind and fill my heart.” And I must say I have never experienced writer’s block.

How do you balance professional time with personal time?

There are 10,080 minutes in a week. In fact, this is the title of my first piece for Thrive Global and Medium in 2017. I have plenty of time to balance professional time as an adjunct professor and writer with personal time to do the things I love, to travel, etc.

I think I’m able to balance professional time and personal time because I’m disciplined. Discipline creates balance.

Training for and running ultramarathons keeps me disciplined and balanced. I’ve been running over 30 years and the last 15 years I’ve been running ultramarathons (50 mile, 100 mile, and 24-hour events). Most recently I had 60 hours to run as many hours as I wanted at A Race for the Ages. I logged 112 miles. I’m training for the Across the Years 48-hour ultramarathon in January.

I love to hike. I love to garden. I have flower and vegetable gardens. I love to rock climb. In the winter when we have snow, I snowshoe. And I love to bake and to knit scarves.

Time is a gift. I think I use it wisely and productively and in fun ways.

What Medium publications/writers are you currently following?

I follow publications on Medium including Koinonia and The Ascent where I am also published. And I’m following a variety of writers, including writers on Koinonia, who offer great tips, experiences, and insights.

What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

As previously mentioned, love to run ultramarathons. I love to garden, bake, and knit. I love to rock climb.

I love God’s creatures. My husband and I are feral feline caregivers even though I am allergic to cats.

My husband and I love the national parks. We’ll be hiking park number 23 and 24 soon. There are 61 national parks.

I love to read. I love books. I have over 1200 books in our humble abode. I am a bibliophile. My recent piece “Rescuing and Running with Books” is published in Medium and The Ascent.

And of course, I love being Mimma to my grandchildren Jordan and Sawyer.

How is your faith reflected in your writing?

I have an academic theology background. I teach theology/religion studies. I am a Catholic Christian. My faith is reflected in my writing. I write about the spirituality of ultrarunning, Christian asceticism, gardening, healing, and the saints. My piece “The Spiritual Dimension of Gardening” is also published in Koinonia.

What are some things you learned from your own writing? From others?

From my own writing, I’ve learned to “write anywhere, anytime.” I recently published a piece with this title on Medium.

A great way to learn about writing is by reading. I read so much. I read fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs. I learn quite a bit about writing from fiction and non-fiction writers.

I think good readers make good writers. I think one of the greatest gifts a person can receive is a book, lots of books.

My own writing experience and what I’ve learned inspired me to write “Want to be a Writer? Here are 5 Ways” in Medium.

What is your ultimate writing goal?

I am working on my memoir, slow and steady. I hope to someday publish my memoir — Come What May; I Want to Run. The title comes from 2 Samuel 18:23.

My memoir writing experience so far inspired me to pen “My Journey from Textbook Author to Aspiring Memoirist” in Medium.

What advice do you have for a newbie on Medium?

My advice for a newbie on Medium is the advice I give my students.

Writing is a process. Don’t rush it.

Revise, revise, revise. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Read your writing aloud. This helps to pick up words you missed, spelling errors, grammar errors, etc.

Read your piece to others. I read my work aloud to my husband. He catches things I missed or don’t see.

Writing also requires patience and discipline.

Be thoughtful in your writing. You don’t want to alienate your readers.

I think joining a writer’s group is a good idea. Not all writers’ groups are the same but if you find a good one, you will learn a lot about writing from other writers also on their writing journey.

The writers’ group I belong to invites a variety of authors, literary agents, and editors who share their experience, tips, and wisdom, along with their journey to publication. I always leave inspired.

Keep writing and always have fun doing it!

Where else can we find you on the Internet? Do you have a website, blog, Pinterest board etc?

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @ultramiriam. My website and blog: ULTRAMIRIAM

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Koinonia

Christian writers who encourage, entertain & empower.

Kimberley Payne

Written by

Jesus Lover. Oma. Author. Exercise & healthy eating are to the body what prayer & Bible study are to the spirit. https://www.kimberleypayne.com/free-programs

Koinonia

Koinonia

Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.

Kimberley Payne

Written by

Jesus Lover. Oma. Author. Exercise & healthy eating are to the body what prayer & Bible study are to the spirit. https://www.kimberleypayne.com/free-programs

Koinonia

Koinonia

Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.

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