Writing always used to be just ‘this thing I do’. No one knew that I spent time writing. I would fit it in where I could, but never made time for it. I would write when no one else was around, never admitting what I’d been doing with my time.
I was ashamed, embarrassed to admit that I wrote. I thought people would say to themselves “who does she think she is, she’s not good enough to publish something, why is she wasting her time”.
I was out cycling one day when I realised how stupid I was being. Writing could be a hobby, in the same way that cycling was.
I was happy not only to admit to people that cycling was a hobby, but I’d tweet about it and blog about it and discuss it openly and loudly with much passionate drunkenness in the pub.
I cycle because of the way it makes me feel, because of the things I experience along the way, and for the positive impact it has on my mental well-being and on my life in general.
I talk to other cyclists because I want to hear about their experience, how they do things and why, and about the joy it brings them.
I make time for cycling because the more I do it the more I will improve. I’ll become a better cyclist through practice.
I might enter a cycle race, and even one day be as good as some professionals, but maybe not. It doesn’t matter. I’ll have learnt so much on the way, from my own determination and my own practice, as well as from my fellow cyclists.
I am a cyclist, not because I get paid to do it, but because I love it.
I am a cyclist, not because I always want to get on the bike everyday, but because when I do push myself to do it I remember how much I love it and how much joy it gives me.
I am a cyclist, not because I understand the technicalities of how a bike works or that my bike is better than anyone else’s, but because I love the freedom it gives me and the ability it provides to push me beyond the limits of what I thought I could do.
A few years ago I realised: replace cyclist with writer and all of the above holds true for writing.
Once it was no longer hidden in the shadows, once it became a hobby, that’s when it actually started to matter. As soon as I acknowledged what an important part of my life it was, and how much I loved it, some strange things happened: I finished stories, I finished novels, I learnt how to edit, I learnt how to take criticism and use it to write better.
As soon as I started to treat writing like a hobby, something that had a rightful place in my life and was allowed to take up space and time, it evolved into something more. It’s no longer a hobby, it’s part of who I am.
It will probably still be years until my writing is good enough to be published, but it no longer feels like a foolish dream. I’m still learning, just like I learnt how to push myself to keep pedalling uphill and not get off the bike and walk.
The difference between cycling and writing is, I have no idea how long the hill is, I can’t see the top, there’s no way I’m going to get off the bike, but I know eventually I’ll reach somewhere if I just don’t stop pedalling.