Friday, June 7, 2013

Writing is like...

...riding a bike.

No really. Listen a minute. This makes sense. I came up with this analogy while talking to my daughter who's having trouble coming up with multiple blog posts, writing multiple blog posts, getting motivated, staying motivated, etc.

"Writing is hard!" she tells me.

And I agree. "Writing is damn hard!"

"So how do you do it?" she asks. "How do you write entire books? When does it stop being work?"

"It doesn't," I tell her. I don't want to be depressing, but facts are facts. "'s like riding a bike."

Because it is, if you think about it. If you do it enough, you get proficient at it--or reasonably so. You get to the point where you don't have to think about things like, "What gear do I want to be in now? How do I change gears? When do I change gears? How do I keep my balance or ride through mud or water or sand? What do I do when I come to an intersection, a crosswalk, a red light, railroad tracks? How do I steer with no hands?"

You still have to do all these things, but you don't have to think so much about "how" to do them. Or when to do them. They become second nature.

Just like writing.

After your third or fourth book, you no longer have to wonder if you can find your way through to the end. You no longer ask yourself things like, "Whose POV do I want to be in now? How do I change POV? When do I change POV?" After your seventh or eighth book, you no longer wonder about where to place chapter breaks or how to segue from one scene to the next. Dialogue tags become second nature. Goal, motivation, conflict--ditto.

But...writing is like riding a bike. You still have to get there. You still have to change those gears, whether you're thinking about them or not. You still have to peddle when you ride up hill. Sometimes, you even have to get off the bike and push it up the hill. There's no magic formula that can get you up that hill other than your own two feet. Yes, it gets easier after you've been doing it awhile. But it still involves work.

Just like writing.

You're always going to have to sit down and make yourself do it. Or stand up and make yourself do it, if you're Hemingway. Or lie down and make yourself do it if you're like any of those authors you're always reading about who wrote their first books while on bed-rest during a difficult pregnancy.

However you're doing it: it's work. Just like riding a bike. But, just like riding a bike, we wouldn't have it any other way. Because the journey is the thing. There's the wind-in-your-hair feeling when you get to an easy part and are just coasting along taking in the scenery. There's the huge sense of accomplishment when you reach your destination.

Getting there--working for it--is part of the fun. Maybe the best part.

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Be careful what you wish for...
As far as Lucy and Dan Cavanaugh are concerned, life is a dream come true.  They have it all: The perfect family, the perfect marriage, the perfect home. But their perfect life is suddenly on the line when the runaway daughter of one of Dan’s former girlfriends arrives in Oberon intent on proving Dan is her father. It’s going to take an entire band of angels to help straighten things out this time around. Lucky for them, that’s exactly what’s coming to town.   
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Sydney Somers said...

Love the analogy and I agree 100%. Especially about "writing is damn hard"! For me, actually showing up to write and not letting life get in the way has always been the hardest part. Once my butt is in the chair and my wip is open, I know I've peaked the biggest hill with my bike. At least for that day. :)

Meg Benjamin said...

On bed rest from a difficult pregnancy? Geez, I would have been popping chocolates and binge watching "Say Yes to the Dress"! No wonder I only have ten books so far.

Juniper Bell said...

Great analogy! We could also talk about the occasional crashes, and the need for a basic repair kit for "saggy middles" and plot holes. Totally works! And I always love your writing advice, PG.

PG Forte said...

These days the "not getting distracted" is the hardest part for me. There's so much stuff vying for my attention.

Back when I was know, that's another way in which writing is like riding a bike. Back then, I hadn't built up the writing "muscles" necessary for writing an entire novel. I could maybe have written short stories though.

PG Forte said...

lol! Juniper. Yeah...plot holes, pot holes. Coincidence? Unlikely! And thanks!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Awesome analogy! It is so true. Good thing I like bike riding. :-)

PG Forte said...

so does my daughter--which I think is why it sprang to mind.

Erin Nicholas said...

Or like lots of other exercise-- It's really hard to get started but I'm really happy when it's over ;)