At the start of this year I bought myself a bike (the beautiful blue one pictured above). I live near kilometres and kilometres of bike paths that go through parks and green spaces all over my city, and although I love walking, the idea of riding a bike along all these beautiful paths really appealed to me. There was just one problem: I hadn’t written a bike in a long, long, time. I’m talking decades!
Still, I was determined to have one, and put my faith in the saying you never forget how to ride a bike. I can now attest to the truth of that saying. Since I started again I haven’t fallen off or crashed into anyone, although I am very, very wobbly when I start off. But once I’m on those long, smooth bike paths I do okay.
Sometimes, it’s a similar process with writing. There are days when I open my laptop and start on a few paragraphs then realise the voice or the tone is all wrong and delete the lot. Or I’ll be working on a story and the words aren’t coming as freely as I’d like, so I’ll make a cup of tea or put on a load of washing then come back and write a sentence or two before wandering off again to find another distraction. In other words, there is a lot of wobbly writing going on!
When I get the wobbles riding my bike, my shoulders stiffen, my heart beats a little faster and there’s a voice in my head yelling watch out you’re going to fall! But I counter that voice with the one that says you’re fine, keep going, you can do it. And I do. I keep my hands gripping those lovely leather grips on the handlebars, focus on the path, and keep pedalling. With writing, it’s that same voice telling you that your work is no good, has never been good, will never be good enough when there is plenty of evidence to prove otherwise.
Facing a blank page is hard, especially if you’ve taken a break from writing and got out of the habit. But just like riding a bike, it’s all about taking a deep breath, quelling that negative voice and pushing through. Keep pedalling, keep writing, and work through those wobbles. Before you know it you’ll be back on those beautiful smooth paths where time flies and everything clicks, gliding along the keyboard/bike paths without a care in the world.
Image of blue pushbike is from my personal collection. Image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.