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Watch the Front Tire

Last November my husband and I moved into a new house.  We chose it partially because it’s less than a mile from our favorite bike path.  It’s been too cold to ride all winter but Cincinnati had a glorious weekend of sixty degrees, so today we rode.

The bike path starts in the park behind our house, but getting to the paved part requires a bit of road time, including one wicked steep hill.  It was scary enough going down, and I knew I’d never get up.  You can’t even get any speed going at the bottom…it’s just pedal and pump like hell.  Figured I’d try my best, then hop off and walk my bike the rest of the way up.

So I started.

And it wasn’t going well.

My husband was riding behind me because he likes to look at my butt.  I was about a third of the way up and losing momentum fast.  Ready to ditch the bike and hoof it.

From behind me he shouted, “Front tire!”

When you’re riding a big hill, the trick is not to look up.  The top of the hill looks forever away, and your brain gives up before your legs do.  You just can’t make it.

But if you look down at your front tire, all you see is the tire and the bit of road right under you, and it doesn’t matter how steep it is because it’s just the road passing under your bike, same as it is on the flat.

I looked at my front tire.

I made it up the hill.

And I thought about writing.

This is because I’m in the middle of fleshing out a new manuscript, and I think about writing all the time.

But it’s also because just looking at your front tire is an excellent bit of writing advice.

It’s so daunting to look up the hill.

Will I ever finish this manuscript?  Will it suck?  Will my agent like it?  Will it sell?  Will anyone else in the world feel like I feel about these characters?

It’s too much.  That hill is way too high.

But just look at your front tire.

Write this chapter.

Write the next one.


Pedal and push until the hill that looked so daunting from below is now behind you, not because you conquered the hill, but because you kept pedaling, eating up the road a few feet at a time.

And pretty soon you’ll be coasting down the other side.


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