What does a writer have in common with an athlete?
Hard as it may be to imagine the sedentary, day dreamy lifestyle of a writer as comparable with the action-packed, movement-filled lifestyle of an athlete, writers and athletes travel a parallel path toward success.
Here’s what I’ve learned from sports rehabilitation and writing through the trenches:
YOU MUST SET A GOAL
Athletes must have an objective: win a gold medal in the Olympics, run a marathon, or qualify to play on a local softball team.
Without a contract or a deadline, no one cares whether or not you show up at your desk to write. You must set a goal and work toward it. You might want to query your favorite magazine, write a book proposal, finish a short story, or land a book deal or find an agent to represent you. Any of these goals is good enough to get you started.
YOU MUST CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT
An athlete is disciplined. Training schedules must be followed. Diets must be balanced. Sleep must be maintained. An entire lifestyle must encompass the athlete in order for the goal to be achieved.
Writers must also be disciplined. Set a writing schedule. Follow it. Make sure you eat right to think right. Exercise the body to exercise the brain. Sleep long and deeply so that creativity may be replenished. A writer must create a lifestyle to support the creative habit and allow it to flourish.
YOU MUST HAVE A SUPPORT TEAM
Athletes get injured, miss milestones, reset goals, and even fail. Writers are no different.
Athletes surround themselves with doctors, nutritionists, rehabilitation experts, sports psychologists, and coaches to build up the support team needed to sustain them through the ups and downs of training toward a goal.
Writers must surround themselves with people who support their writing: family and friends, fellow writers, editors, publishers, marketing experts, agents, attorneys, and people in other creative disciplines such as acting, music, and art.
Does an athlete cross the finish line alone? No. The support team is in the crowd, cheering the athlete on, celebrating the victory.
When you sign your publishing contract, you are not alone. Your support team is behind you, cheering you on, celebrating your victory.
The same is true with failure: you do not fail alone. Others are there to go over the play-by-play, break it down, analyze what went wrong and why, and help create a winning strategy for the future.
YOU MUST EXHIBIT GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP
Good sportsmanship means thinking of others: teammates and opponents. An athlete who exhibits good sportsmanship wins with humility and fails with grace.
Be kind. Be gracious. Be magnanimous.
Be a good sport.
Celebrate the success of other writers. Someday those same writers will celebrate your success.
Whether you are an athlete or a writer, the journey is the same: a life tailored around achieving a goal with the help of a support team in the midst of opponents who will push you to give your all in the pursuit of your dreams.