The other day I received a tweet from Lynn Reardon (LopeTX). She had ridden three horses that day. It was one of the breezy, mild, autumn days we’ve had recently in Central Texas. Absolutely perfect for riding. Awesome for her…but I was totally jealous. In the past several months, I’ve struggled to ride my horse on regular basis.
It made me consider, however, how much writing and riding are alike. Luckily, I do both. (For the record, Lynn does, too.)
No matter your equestrian discipline, riding takes skill. It takes a lot of courage. Learning to ride and continuing to do so is a process, not an event. I’ve ridden all my life and I don’t think I will ever stop learning. You can master a particular riding discipline, level or horse. But it’s not the end. There are always new techniques, higher fences and a different horse to ride.
Horses require total focus. They are sensitive creatures that demand we leave our personal issues on the ground. Once you’re mounted, it’s about the partnership. If you’re tense, nervous, or in a tizzy, your horse will pick up on the negative vibes. It serves no one (and you won’t get a good ride) under these conditions.
So relaxation and allowing yourself to think while feeling is productive. Riding engages all the senses. It’s a beautiful sport and a wonderful activity. I’ve yet to find a similar pleasure.
However, it’s also hard work. Even if you’re a pleasure rider, you know the dedication and time it takes to prepare for and make the ride happen. It’s not just show ring riders and horses that undergo intense training. Horses respond to repetition and consistency. Often the best riders are not the “born horsemen and women” or the even most talented riders. The best riders are the ones who choose to ride no matter what. They hone their craft by riding even when they don’t want to, when they feel afraid or when the ride has gone poorly. They do it again and again until they get it right. These riders exercise patience with their horses as much as they do with themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses.
Writing, like riding, takes a lot of focus. Writing well means repeating the task in a variety of genres. It means stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things. It also means putting yourself out there — taking the time to actually scribe what’s in your head. That can be extremely scary — just like mounting a 1,200 pound horse.
It’s common knowledge that like the great riders, great writers are often made, not born. Published writers will tell you they kept going even after multiple rejections. They were willing to listen to critiques, they were willing to hear “no, thanks,” and they certainly did not give up.
They kept writing.
Good writers want to improve. They know writing is a journey without an end. It’s a fantastic experience to see your words in print. It’s even better to know you’ve touched someone else’s heart, mind and soul with your words.
So keep writing!
What can you do to make your writing better?
Take the time to write. Even if you’re published, especially if you’re not a newbie. The more words you put on paper, the better you’ll be at wordsmithing. Plus, it’s fun to form sentences, tear them apart, and restructure. Once you’ve got groovy sentences that flow, do the same exercise with your paragraphs, and then with the entire page.
Study art. It’s important for writers to read about current events, history and important literature…but it’s also imperative that we experience life. Studying visual art is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. As you interpret the piece, your mind develops a story. As a little girl, a babysitter taught me to look at paintings and develop stories. It’s an excellent exercise that can take you in whatever direction you’re willing to go.
Observe everything. Getting back to nature is also a super way to recharge and refuel. If your nature is the city park, simply being a voyeur can also stimulate the brain. Watch the pigeons on your stoop, see the people walking on the street…clear your mind and open your eyes. Your mind will be flooded with words.
Repetition. The grind can be a drag, I admit. Sometimes we don’t want to write or create. Sometimes I don’t want to ride in a lesson. It’s hard work! However, I know that by showing up and doing what’s in front of me, I grow. More so, as I write and get into my pieces, something flips and suddenly I am pleased with the flow.
Riding and writing, for me, is like the chicken and the egg. I don’t know which came first because I love both so much. I do know that my horsemanship bleeds into what I call my regular life. Owning horses pertains to everything I do.
And it certainly has made me a better writer.