Writing is like Riding a Bike

May 11, 2008 at 9:25 am (Writing)

Many years ago, a traveling science fair came through the town we were living in. I’ve always loved those types of science demonstrations and experiments (see also: Beakman’s World) so of course we went. One demonstration that recently bubbled up through the primordial ooze of my memories was that of the muscles and coordination it took to ride a bicycle. 

This demonstration had a console connected to a 3′ high cutout of a person riding a bike. As you pushed the buttons corresponding to the person’s muscles, the cutout’s muscles moved. The idea was to do this in such a way that was smooth and controlled, allowing your cutout person to ride their cutout bike over hills and dale, the wind in their cutout hair and bugs in their cutout teeth. Now the beauty of this was there were instructions on the console, telling you which buttons to push in which order–all you had to do was push them.

But it wasn’t that easy. Riding a bike must be more difficult than I knew, especially for the cutout people. I would push the buttons but my cutout friend would jerk through the motions, at times so violently that I knew the only thing saving my cutout friend from whiplash was that it was made of metal. I stood there for a long time, ignoring the classes of grade-school science kids wanting to push my buttons, and was able to get my cutout friend into somewhat of a motion. There would be no Tour de France for my cutout bicyclist, but perhaps a trip to a nearby cafe could have been arranged.

Now, years later, my cutout friend is laughing at me. I think the reason this memory surfaced is because how clearly it illustrates writing for me. I herk and jerk getting started, but once I get into a rhythm, I can maintain it and travel pages and pages. After two weeks of other things, I’m now back at the console, getting ready to push the buttons and get back into that motion of writing. I’m hoping I can ride into July and finish this trip before RWA Nationals, but if not, it’ll sure be nice to feel the wind in my hair again.

Even the bugs in my teeth. 


  1. Kyle said,

    So, you mean writing is like pushing buttons to get a cutout of a human to write a bike, because I thought that “it’s like riding a bike” was the analogy for not forgetting how to do something? LOL…

    Don’t worry about it, once you start putting fingers to keys, you’ll get back into the flow of things. It’s like riding a bike…


  2. Ilana said,

    Pack your floss, because once you get going fast, you’ll want to smile.

    And yes, it truly is amazing all the things our bodies do without even bothering to inform our brain.

  3. Katie Reus said,

    Like Kyle said, I’m sure once you put those fingers on the keyboard again, you’ll be back in the flow of things 🙂

  4. Robin said,

    Mind if I ride beside you? Your start sounds like mine, and I promise to shout words of encouragment!

  5. Caryn said,

    I loved the “wanting to push my buttons”. Hilarious! And, yes, I totally get your analogy. I needed it, in fact, because I’m having a hard time getting started. You know what else keeps us from learning to ride a bike? Fear. It’s especially difficult to get on that contraption after we’ve fallen down a few times. But once you get into the groove, it’s a wonderful feeling.

  6. Pam said,

    Ah, you’re all wonderful people deserving of many fine things. Tonight’s the night I start pushing buttons again, jerking into motion. I’ve given myself permission to write as herky and jerky as necessary to get things going again. On the good side, I’ve thought of a reward if I get 20 pages in this week, so for the first time in a long time, I have something tangible to shoot for.

    Besides the wind in my hair. 🙂

  7. Caryn said,

    Well, Pam? Don’t leave us hanging. What’s the reward? 😉

  8. Marilyn Brant said,

    I’m with Caryn…I want to know the reward (and I may have to copy it if it, like, involves Godiva chocolate in any way :).
    P.S. I tagged you!

  9. Pam said,

    ***SAP ALERT!!! SAP ALERT!!!***

    My reward is a picnic lunch with Montana. (All together now: Awwww! ) And who knows–Godiva chocolate may very well be involved!

    And Marilyn, I have to admit to a little bit of giddiness–this is my first tag so I’m giggling like a schoolgirl who just got Hannah Montana tickets. I will beg permission to do this when I’m home though, or you’re going to get page 123 of Reading Financial Reports for Dummies.

    Method of Valuation: This explains how the company values its assets. (See Chapters 4 and 6 for more information on Valuation.) Methods of depreciation and amortization: This explails the methods a company uses to show the use of its assets. for those of you who are sticklers for the rules. 😉

  10. Robin said,

    Oh, I hope you get that picnic lunch! If you’d like you can report your daily progress to me and I’ll cheer you on, crack the whip, and remind you not to use too many justs and thats. 🙂

  11. Melissa Blue said,

    Pack your floss, because once you get going fast, you’ll want to smile.

    That was snort worthy.

    And Pam I understand that metaphor. Once you start a new book you wonder how you made it through the last one. Did you not learning anything of value? I have to fill up all this white space? With what? Oh, words…crap.

    But as Stephen King says, “one word in front of the other.”

  12. 30 Days of Write: March 2016 edition | Pamela Cayne said,

    […] the trick is getting that pace going. I’ve blogged about this before–the whole ‘getting a bicycle‘ going, and it’s still truth. But I’ve got this book…I’ve had this […]

  13. Cruz said,

    I wаs able to fihd good advice from yoսr blog articles.

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