Oct 09 2019

How to get back on the writing ride

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie shares a metaphor to get writers back in the saddle.

I once took a writing class with an avid equestrian who offered a riding metaphor for every writing exercise. I loved the way she related her two passions to each other, both of which are creative art forms that require science to build skill. I’m a writer, not a rider or scientist, but that won’t stop me from passing along some of the riding-to-writing points I found most inspiring.

If you are feeling a lack of giddy in your writing giddy-up and want to get excited about writing again, consider the following:

Stay in the moment

You have to walk before you trot; which is to say, don’t get ahead of yourself. Proceed slowly. If you are thinking about writing, your foot is already in the stirrup. You are ready to mount, but that doesn’t mean you are ready to race. Kick your leg over with a few minutes of expressive writing. Leave aside spelling, grammar, and logic concerns. Simply put words on the page. Expressive writing is an excellent way to stimulate your creativity. Don’t think about the bigger picture or a longer project, or even what IS this? Stay with it and see what happens. You can build an entire writing practice out of staying with it and seeing what happens.

Keep trying

Half the battle is getting (back) in the saddle. The saddle in this pun-based metaphor is getting those words on the page. Pen and paper or keyboard and screen. Desk or cafe table. What you use to write and surround yourself with facilitates your writing comfort. Think of it this way: You are more likely to want to repeat a positive experience; you are more likely to ride again when you comfortably find your seat. Keep trying to find it. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t give in to frustration; notice it and release it in favor of exploring other methods for motivating yourself, other topics to write about, other styles, genres, or exercises.

Be purposeful

One word: dressage. Dressage, according to Google, is “the art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility and balance.” Dressage and discipline happen through repetition. Try “dressage” writing: build small, repeatable practices out of what’s working for you. If free writing consistently leads you to an unexpected idea you want to turn into a short story, then try a short free write every morning, or every other night before bed, or whatever time of day you are free AND feeling creative. Soon, not only will you be writing regularly, but your skills will sharpen and your writing will improve.

Which of these tips makes you most excited to get back to the page or screen? Share with us in the comments!

Related reading: Writers, set micro goals for major progress

3 steps to banish blocks through expressive writing

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Comments on ... How to get back on the writing ride

  1. Alice says:

    “Stay with it and see what happens”. I live by that with my writing. I’m going to try NaNoWriMo for the first time and that quote will ‘spur’ me on! Thanks!!