Volume 1: “Why don’t you get a job?”

“Why don’t you get a job?!”

You hear variations on this theme surprisingly often, whether on the ground, in Daily Mail comment sections, or anywhere in the vast cultural chasm between the two.

I’m self employed. I work four days a week usually, and when I attend XR it’s just a case of making the time up elsewhere.

The friend who introduced me to XR works full time. …

Part 2: When to write and when to edit

At the start I could bash out a thousand words in a one hour sitting, but word counts soon began to dwindle. Until I realised something important, so did motivation.

Knowing where to put the words you’ve written is hard. It can lead quickly lead to frustration and — dare I say it — writers’ block.

But we’ve all been there.

So if you’re in a writing rut, read on.

Early on, my word count looked like this:

The words came easily. …

Be a journalist

Somewhere in one of his books or blog posts Alastair Humphreys advises aspiring writers to keep a journal, and to use it as the basis for a book later on. It is wise advice.

Reading back on my journals, there is so much detail and nuance that has since slipped from the forefront of my mind when remembering the ride.

There are place names, like Hawkins Pickle Road, Baldy, Bear Rump Island, and Goobies.

There are daily budgets: $2.87 groceries / $4.68 beer / $14.62 pizza / $5 camping / $6.80 snacks.

There are quotes and notes alongside longer pieces…

On the ground at Waterloo Bridge

Despite no cars on Waterloo Bridge I walked on the pavement, through habit. Pockets of police-persons stood sentry on the road up to the protest site.

Beyond them was a crowd. I’d preferred to have written barricade, to continue the street-battle language peppered through media and anecdotal accounts — “We’ve held all sites overnight”, and the like — but to do so would be disingenuous. Instead there were just people chatting, laughing, singing, and playing music.

The man at the information tent with leaflets and literature looked surprised when I asked how things were going. “We didn’t expect to be…

A story of social media fulfilling its potential to do good in the world, at a time when that message is especially important. Written for Say Yes More.

Early in March I left my prized Alpkit sleeping bag — the one that kept me warm while cycling across Canada — on a train bound for Newcastle.

I’d thought it was a train bound for York until we’d been sitting in York station for about thirty seconds. The next three seconds involved me realising the train was about to move; that if it did I’d miss my important and imminent meeting; and that I had to get myself and my stuff out of the train sharpish.

The sleeping bag was mistakenly abandoned in the frantic fluster that followed.


Or, my farcical journey on the Canadian railways

Kristian and I bought two train tickets from Saskatoon to Winnipeg. We were skipping some of the Prairies to give us more time in Atlantic Canada, later on in our ride.

The train’s planned departure time was 08:32.

We arrived at the station at 07:30, to see a revised departure time of 15:39 on the information boards.

We stood dumbstruck. A seven hour delay was pretty special.

The revised departure time changed: 14:06

Other diligent would-be passengers started arriving around 07:45

The revised departure time changed again: 14:07

The counter staff cracked flippant jokes when I asked about the delay…


There are two versions of the opening crawl for Star Wars…

The original:

The REPUBLIC GALACTICA is dead. Ruthless trader barons, driven by greed and the lust for power, have replaced enlightenment with oppression, and “rule by the people” with the FIRST GALACTIC EMPIRE.

For over a thousand years, generations of JEDI KNIGHTS were the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. Now these legendary warriors are all but extinct. One by one they have been hunted down and destroyed by the sinister agents of the Emperor: the DARK LORDS OF THE SITH.

It is a period of civil wars. Rebel Armies, striking from fortresses hidden deep within the Great rift, have…

Because writers say things which resonate

Part 2 of a series. Each of the quotes included offers a tiny part of the answer. Part 1 is here.

I would like to make the majority of my income from writing. And I’d like the writing to be the fulfilling kind, rather than the anonymous web copy about toilets kind.

Reading writers’ thoughts on writing is enlightening. Mainly because it confirms there is no ‘secret to success’: no routine which, when replicated, guarantees a novel, publication, or attention. But also because, sometimes, something they say resonates so closely with how I do write, or how I do think…

Things don’t have to be shit.

My 2017 New Year’s Resolution was to spend more on charity than beer that year. I was tired of feeling sick to my core about the state of the world, and of accepting terrifying speculations — like resource wars, fascist regimes, climate catastrophe — as inevitable.

I failed the resolution but realised this: dread achieves less than nothing. So I looked for ways to make a positive impact. This is a list of over 100 things I’ve found since.

Spread the word, get involved, and add your own ideas in the comments!

A chat with Bill Phelps

I originally wrote this in May 2015 for the Ride25 blog. Minor tweaks have been made for the sake of readability, but the adventurous essence remains the same.

Bill welcomes me into his home, and I add my bike to the bunch already in the hall. One is quite garish: the entire frame is a makeshift collage, complete with a row of photograph faces along the top tube. “My son designed it to make it as ugly as possible” he explains. “To stop people stealing it”.

The interview was for my Cycling Champions series, a collection of stories about people…

Chris Lee

I’m writing a book: https://chrislee.is/writing-a-book.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store