A couple of weeks ago I started swimming training again and yesterday I did my first open water swim since I was 16. It was a fun swim- 500m- and well within my capabilities as I’ve been swimming a kilometer or so most days in training. But you, know, I thought I would start off slow and thank goodness I did. I got into the muddy water, my face went under and boom! panic attack! My throat closed, my chest closed and every cell in my body said that this was a very bad idea. Bad, bad, terrible idea.
I’m not sure why I panicked; it could’ve been claustrophobia from the muddy water, it could’ve been the people…all I knew was that I couldn’t do this. I could not swim with my head above the water (which is seriously energy sapping) and yet I couldn’t give up…dilemma. Eventually I got my breathing under control, managed to get my face into the water and I focused on reaching the first buoy and by then I was in a rhythm and feeling strong. By the time I hit the second buoy I felt like I could carry on for a long while yet.
So (and this is especially for the people entering the Mills and Boon Tempted To Write competition) what’s the connection to writing? Well, I guess it’s writing past those first panicky chapters, resisting the urge to go back and start afresh, it’s about not giving up. It’s about reaching the end despite an ugly start…
Writing takes determination, you need to push through, you need to put your head down and just get the damn thing done. You need to swim/write your way through the mud and the waves and the person kicking you in your side. And then you have to have the guts to go back and do it all again on the second and the third drafts, getting better all the time.
The great thing about writing though, unlike finishing an open water swim, is that nobody takes a revolting photo of you exiting the water, hair plastered against your face, adjusting the top of your swimming costume. Eeep! *hides face in hands*