What did you learn from watching the Winter Olympics?
I learned a lot and noticed some things I already knew, like I’m really good at procrastinating. Now that the Games are over, I’m trying to justify all that potential writing time that I spent on the couch admiring the skill, grit, and sheer determination of the athletes.
Writers have a different venue to display their skill, and they have a different version of a gold medal—yet many similarities exist in the lives of writers and those of athletes. I sat down at my computer this morning to work on revisions of my latest manuscript and wondered how many of the Olympian athletes were getting up and spending hours of effort working to improve their performance for the next race. Most of them, I’m sure.
- Persistence and self-motivation must exist in both worlds. Both the writer and the Olympian athlete must devote an insane amount of time and effort to master their skill. No one makes them do it; they do it because they love what they do.
- Amateur athletes and writers are in the privileged position of setting their own goals and defining their own success criteria. They tailor their lives to suit the goals.
- Consistency is another key ingredient. No one gets to be an Olympic skier by deciding to go skiing every Sunday afternoon when the weather is nice. Nor can a writer become a successful author by sitting down at the computer when the inspiration hits.
- There will be pain. Not every step is fun, but keeping your eye on the goal can keep you going. So will sharing with others that have similar goals. Olympians often train in clusters, benefiting from shared venues and coaches. Similarly, writers can go to conferences and workshops, benefiting from sharing knowledge of experts and gaining confidence from sharing with their peers.
- A successful athlete, like a successful writer, knows there is always more to learn. If you’re not coachable, you’ll get stuck along the path. Keep learning and moving forward toward whatever goal you have.
- Many athletes are thrilled to be a part of the Olympic experience, knowing it would take a major miracle to even get in front of a TV camera, not to mention a medal of any sort. Similarly, many authors are thrilled to hold a book in their hands with their name on the cover, knowing it would take a severe disturbance in the laws of the universe for their book to become a best seller. That’s not always the goal. Define your own success and work toward it, one word at a time.
Do you have the Olympian determination in your writing life? Please share any hints with your fellow writers.
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