I know that sometimes I talk too much about things like April being National Poetry Month or National Novel Writing Month or stuff like that. However, there's one special time I don't talk about that much that deserves its time in the spotlight, and that's Bicycling Season. So this time I am going to talk about what I, as a writer, get out of bicycling season and how it relates to writing.
Exercise, like writing, is something that you might not want to jump into all at once. With both disciplines, it is often easier to start off with the basics and build on those, then add on from that point. When it comes to cycling, I start off the season by rebuilding my endurance, then gradually start doing longer and long rides once my endurance is there. And I can track my progress through heart rate. It starts with getting the heartrate soaring, if only for a half-hour or so. After a few weeks, the half-hour sprints become easier, the heartrate does not have to go as high, and the endurance starts building into longer and longer rides. My first rides of the cycling season had my heartrate go above 150 beats per minute for extended times, but by the time I am ready for longer rides, my rate will be down to 125-130 bpm and I can cycle for hours (and my doctor will stop worrying about me).
Now, about that writing thing. The same formula works for the beginning writer who wants to really explore their skills. Start with sitting down and writing for 15 minutes straight (typing if you want). Write about something, anything, continuously for the entire time. Don't pause and think about where you think it might go, or consider a rewrite - just write for that time. If you do this in a group, you will probably hear some groans and straining sighs from other people after about ten minutes, and that's fine - that's the endurance building up.
If this sounds tough, well, it is. So the best way to get into the habit of doing these writing sprints, start with a subject you are passionate about -- something that gets your heart beating. If you like cars, write about a particular car and how you feel about it. If you are into animals, pick your favorite one and explore your interest in that beast. And if you like bicycling, as some people do, well just write about that. Slowly but surely, you will get into the habit of writing. And the endurance will build up as well.
Eventually, the 15-minute sprint will feel easy, and you'll be ready to longer writing exercises. Those don't have to be dashes, and you can sit and think about those things because you are working toward a longer piece. You will be ready for the heat of writing season, and you will feel it.