Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seat Time

This weekend I attended a writing conference in American Fork, Utah with my daughter. It was great.

Friday night, after the Plot Shop activity, we went down to the hotel jacuzzi. A woman was there with a group of kids. She told me they were in town for a karate competition and asked what we were doing.

"We're here for a writing conference," I said.

"Oh, you ride horses?"

Huh?

"No, writing." I mimed writing in the air. "Writing books."

Not riding horses.

"Oh, they teach you how to write books?"

Well, they try.

"They have workshops and presentations about different areas of writing."

Huh? She looked vaguely confused and we didn't say much after that.

HA! What a funny experience! I really got a kick out of it and my daughter says she's heard me tell the story at least 10 times.

First, the riding horses visual gave me a chuckle. Not that I've never ridden a horse...I have...on a few memorable occasions. And I'm definitely not "riding conference" material (I think they call the thing a rodeo). But aside from the humor, this little conversation played into an analogy I've been contemplating lately: writing is actually a lot like riding.

I was originally thinking of bikes, but horses fit, too. If I study riding by reading books and attending workshops on the subject, I could get to be quite the expert in theory. I could learn everything there is to know about riding (bikes or horses). But until I get my butt in the seat or the saddle and get some actual practice, I won't be much of a rider. Sure, I'll fall or get bucked off a lot in the beginning, but if I stick with it and keep working, I'll get better and better.

Writing is the same way. Conferences and classes and groups can teach me and help me improve...if I'm putting in the necessary seat time. Sure, I'll fall and get bucked off (rejected) in the beginning, but if I stick with it and keep working, I'll get better and better. Several of yesterday's presenters reinforced that point as well.

What started this train of thought was doing a BIAM (Book In A Month) in November...and continuing through December. I had never finished a whole novel before, and finally made myself do it. What a valuable experience! Wow. All that stuff I had learned in theory came into focus in practice. And I was able to gain much more from this latest writing conference because I had put in the seat time beforehand...on that first completed novel as well as the one I'm working on now.

I'll share some of the conference highlights in future posts.

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