I biked across Canada in the summer of last year.
I bought a bike. I just finished my master’s degree, and it was a very challenging experience. I decided to do something to recover after finishing my thesis. I didn’t want to think too hard, but I wanted to do something difficult. I did not want to depend on other people for my success. I wanted to get out of my head and into my body.
I started a writing business a few years ago. A lot of the things I learned from my bike tour have helped me with both my writing and figuring out how to create a business from scratch. I traveled from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland on a bicycle.
When you are moving, your best ideas will come. There are a few things here.
I spent two months on that bike and it was the most creative I have ever had. For five hours a day, it was a free flow. The author took the photos. Right: Thunder Bay, Ontario. A highway rest stop. The Cabot Trail is in Nova Scotia.
This is a practice I use for my writing. I go for a walk, go to the gym or do housework when I am stuck with something. I had the idea for this article while I was washing dishes. It helps ignite creativity.
There is a lot of research that supports the idea that exercising helps us be more creative. The effect of exercise was powerful. As soon as I got on the bike, I was able to solve problems, make connections, and generate ideas.
If you don’t capture your best ideas, they will disappear. Even when you are tired, keep a journal.
I didn’t take as many notes as I should have. After cycling all day, setting up camp, making dinner, and washing my shorts, I just wanted to lay down. I told myself I would do it tomorrow, even though I was tired. I would be busy in the mornings making breakfast, packing, and trying to get an early start. I biked all day. There never seemed to be time.
I learned that it was hard to get rid of ideas. I was asked if I was keeping a diary. I sort of did, but I was very disorganized about it. I am kicking myself for not taking it more seriously now that I am writing for a living.
The lesson for me was to keep a journal. I keep a journal by my bed and a file in the notes app on my phone. I have a journal where I try to write about my days. Even when I am tired, I try to write at least one short story. The five minutes I spend writing down my thoughts will be worth it later. I forgot a lot of the ideas I had while I was biking. I see that I wasted a lot of my time by not taking notes.
The author took the photos. Right: Lake Louise, Canada. The city is in British Columbia. Some tools are essential and some are not.
I didn’t have a lot of money, so I chose a minimalist version of everything. I used V-breaks because the bike I bought off the internet was V-breaks. I just packed everything on the back and held it on with bungee cords, because I didn’t buy the front panniers. I wore shorts that were regular.
There is a culture around biking equipment. I didn’t know what was important or what wasn’t when I started. Some people say disc brakes are essential because they stop the fastest, while others say you want V-breaks because they can be fixed anywhere. Some people say you need to have front panniers to balance the weight on your bike, while others say you make your bike too heavy. Everyone will tell you that you need cycling shorts.
The lesson I took from my experience with biking gear was to find a basic system that worked and then to focus on cycling. As needed, modify. I learned what was essential and what wasn’t over time. Make sure the V-brakes work. You just have to be okay with less stuff, and you don’t need front panniers. The sleek cycling shorts are actually designed to prevent saddle sores. Ask me how I know. They are essential.
There are a lot of people who sell courses, give advice on how to cold call potential clients, write a good post on the internet, and use a good writing app. This strategy has been applied to my writing business.
You should find a system that works for you. As needed, modify. I used the same strategy that I used with biking, starting with something basic, focusing on writing, and then adapting. I have been fine without expensive online courses, but a few of them were really useful. A website was necessary. I like the free version of the software.
They are so helpful. I was given information about the best places to camp, the best bike routes, and how to avoid bears. I got food and water. I was given places to sleep. At a beautiful beach in Marathon, Ontario, a lady from New York and her boyfriend made me a meal on a fire and then left me with a bag of Chaga mushrooms. A man came up to me at a Tim Hortons and gave me $50. The couple on Prince Edward Island made me and the other guy a full lobster dinner. I was invited to stay on the extra bed in the trailer by the Massachusetts couple. Talk to people who are not your friends.
Writing is the same as any other activity. I decided to try to connect with other writers recently. I started with Reddit and am still getting into within this website, but I have found other writers useful in both places. Writers have a lot of good advice. They have connections. They pass on information. It has been beneficial for me to join a writing community. Most people, most of the time, are really great, that’s what cycling taught me. They will be there to help you.
The majority of it is grunt work. It is easier to ride a bike with support. When you have a community around you, writing is even easier.
It would be hard to cycle a long way. It is not really. You just have to ride the bike and pedal for a long time. You will find that you have gone a long way when you do that over and over.
The author took the photos. Right: Schreiber, Ontario. The middle is Swift Current. Left: Morley, Canada.
It’s a lot harder to write than it is to ride a bike. You can do it very badly. You cannot do cycling badly. It is not quite the same. It is easy to ride a bike. The hard part is doing it for a long time.
Writing is an endurance sport. The trick to being successful is just doing it. When you get on the computer and type for a long time, you find that you have written something. grunt work is not glamorous or magical.
There is a strange kind of identity that comes with cycling. I never thought of myself as a cyclist. I never did much cycling except as a way to get to work or school. I didn’t know anything about bikes, the equipment or the culture of cycling. When someone asked me what kind of bike I had, I said a black one. What do you do?
It is the same for both. You are a writer if you are making money from writing. It helps to remember that when you are having a hard time, you feel like you are not good enough. You are not a real writer. You are a cyclist once you are on the bike.
Someone is always better than you. Did you write something? Did you make a profit from it? You are a writer. Don’t worry if you’re a real writer. You’re. Don’t worry about the writing.
Everyone who saw the bundle of gear attached to my bike asked where I was going. It seemed like each of them knew someone who biked across Canada better than me. The author took the photos. Right: Emerald Lake. The Confederation Bridge is in New Brunswick.
I got there just like they did. Someone who did it in 50 days was 30 days faster than me. Someone prepared for a long time before they did it. One couple didn’t prepare at all, they just bought a bike spur-of-the-moment while they were on vacation, and started without a glance. A person knew a person who rode 400 kilometres in a storm with the wind at their back. The person spent nothing on the trip. Someone with no gear stayed in hotels and carried a credit card. I met people who were doing this for the 12th time or more. Everyone knew more about bikes, geography, route, and the weather than I did. Someone was doing it better.
A lot of writers are funnier, smarter, and more interesting than me. Many people have written. People publish in fancy places. They are doing it better.
Writing is the same as any other activity. Everyone is publishing articles about how they made six figures in their first year, or how to write a $500 article in 40 minutes. Tim, I wish you good luck in 30 days.
The lesson is not to worry about what other people think. You are not. You are good enough. Continue pedalling.
I’m writing for a living. I pay off my student loans, but I am not making six figures. I am getting there.
I met many people on the same journey as me. The doctor on the sprint bike was eating nothing but power bars. Mike, an ex tech CEO with a sturdy bike and 200 pounds of gear, was walking away using peanut M&Ms for fuel. There was a vegetarian cyclist couple who were 17 years old and doing 250 kilometres a day, but who had one of their dads following behind them, carrying their camping gear in his truck. The 88-year-old woman did it for the 12th time. There was Grace, the pole dancer, who was mostly riding but sometimes hitching a ride. Her route was based on Tragically Hip songs. You can make your own journey.
This can also be applied to writing. I have known people who started writing after quitting their sales career, and others who started writing after a career in journalism. A friend of mine was a musician and specialized in product descriptions. I wrote about research and its implications for policy when I was in government. The people had their own style and were on their own journey. Each person succeeded.
Just get started. People can give you advice, but it is not the same as the person’s writing journey. It is a bit scary, but it is also empowering. Do what you want.
I got a lot of questions about what I was doing to prepare for the trip. I said I was riding a lot, but actually I was not. The stationary bike was being used at the gym. I did that three times in total. That is it.
The author took the photos. Right: Osoyoos, British Columbia. The middle is St. John’s, Newfoundland. The lake is in British Columbia.
My strategy was that. I got through the first couple of weeks. It was easier after that. The first couple of weeks had three mountain ranges, one of which was the Rockies.
I didn’t really prepare. The best way to prepare to cycle long distances is simply to cycle long distances. As you go, you could train. You would be fine if you didn’t go too hard.
A writing business is the same as any other business. As you go, you can learn it. If you have experience writing for a living and know how to use the correct spellings, it helps. Getting a legit website set up is one of the things you can do to prepare for starting a business. Maybe taking one of the expensive courses that are out there. The point is that the most important thing was to start.
There is no right way to succeed. The idea that a writer needs to be qualified is a myth. It is possible to learn to write while you are writing. You just need to get started.
A lot of expert writers will give you specific tools, tips, and tricks that can help you write better. It can be helpful. I learned from my trip that there are many ways to be successful. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to be a writer the right way, use other people’s advice. You can do it your own way.
It doesn’t seem to have a lot in common with starting a business. They are both big undertakings that can feel impossible at the beginning. There are different ways to do them.
You will get there after a while.