A few years ago when I was having foot problems, I took up swimming - which I adore. Now I swim for an hour, three times a week at our local Wellness Center.
Like gyms everywhere, we've been overrun with new folks fulfilling New Year's resolutions. Rather than fight them, I thought I'd come up with one of my own resolutions - teach myself how to do flip turns at the end of the pool.
I watched the videos. I understand the concept. But putting it into practice was a whole other affair! Most times I'd come up gasping for air, choking on water, and cracking myself up. Quite an explosive and hilarious endeavor (and not a bad way to start the day - laughing at my silly self).
But I'm not worried. I'll get it - I know I will. Because I got the freestyle, and I got breathing to both sides. And I watch so many people who don't know how to swim at all, working, working at it and finally getting it.
It made me realize that swimming is a lot like writing. The first step is sticking your head under water and getting comfortable with the idea that you won't drown. That's a biggie. And not unlike writing down words and realizing you can do this. That writers are just people after all.
It takes time to build up the skills. Swimming is a by degrees sort of sport. You train your body to get comfortable with new things before you add something else. Like adding flip turns.
It's overwhelming at first, but after a few tries I was able to start breaking it down into parts. Am I looking at my knees or the sky? Am I keeping my hands straight or swishing them around? Am I pushing off at the right angle? (I was like a rogue ping-pong ball for a while there.)
Just like writing, learning the nuances, learning how to evaluate other writing and your own. You build a comfort level with the basics, then add and add and add to your skills.
Pretty soon your writing pretty well - and doing flip turns!