Writing can be like rowing a kayak.
This past week-end my husband and I visited long-time friends at their lake house. In the early evening, when it was a little cooler, they suggested it would be a good time to go out on the water. I hadn’t really noticed that the only boats available were individual kayaks, and when I realized that I would be alone in a kayak in the middle of the lake, I became more than a little anxious. My friends equipped me (though not my husband) with a life jacket and pushed me out into the water. I was scared, and I had to talk myself into the moment. As I think back over it, I could have upended the kayak two inches from shore. But I didn’t. However, I was spared by a storm. We had to get out of the kayaks and make for the house.
The next morning, soon after breakfast, we were back in the kayaks, rowing into the little fingers of the lake, gazing at houses along the shore, hearing my friend’s stories about this neighbor and that neighbor. We were the only people on the lake, and I was fine. Well, sort of fine. I had to beat back my many incredulous head voices who routinely doubt my ability to do much of anything, but I managed to turn down the volume of the head voices, settle myself, and keep rowing.
One point of my story is that having had 5 minutes in the kayak the night before prepared me for the morning’s rowing. Those few minutes gave me a good overview of the situation. I knew how to get into the kayak, and I had evidence to support my belief that I probably wouldn’t tip over.
A second and even more important point is that there was no choice. My friend, the self-confident extrovert to my scaredy-cat introvert, had it all planned. And it was her routine. We just settled into it.
And now we’re down to why I think this event might be of interest to you.
Here it is—if you can’t set up your own routine for writing, hang out with friends who will push you to get going or make it easy to jump in. Get a friend or a writing buddy or a coach, who will put you into your writing kayak and push you out into the lake. You don’t have to row around the lake the first time out—just get everything into place and make a few attempts. Row a bit and tell yourself how well you’re doing. The next time out, it will be easier.
Writing and returning to your writing gets easier with each outing. Don’t expect much from yourself the first time or two or three, but do it first thing in the morning before the heat or other demands slow you down or take over your life. And continue to put it first. Writing is hard work, and you need to go at it when you’re at your best.
So much comes back to writing for me. Many things take courage as well as hard work, but nothing takes more courage and hard work than writing.