I haven’t talked much about my writing here before, but I’ll be discussing it from now on because of my commitment to my writing for 2015.
Watching the Rose Bowl recently got me thinking about how dedicated and committed to their work these college athletes are. What can they teach me about how to commit more fully to my work of writing?
1. Success requires regular and frequent practice.
To win, you have to put in the time and do the work. Every day. If you’re serious, there is no off-season. For a writer, this means not thinking or talking about writing, but actually sitting down and writing.
2. Sometimes you have to drop back to move forward.
A quarterback steps back to see where he needs to go. For a writer, this means looking at what you last wrote to see where the work needs to go. This is why many writers advise stopping in the middle of a section instead of at the end. And once the first draft is done, a writer steps back to look at revising and editing the work.
3. Small amounts of progress can add up to big accomplishments.
Two five-yard runs earn a football team a first down. For a writer, writing even a small amount every day will eventually add up to a finished piece. Don’t knock incremental progress, just keep working at it steadily.
4. You have to study the playbook.
A team has to know what plays are available and when and how to implement each one. For a writer, this means reading widely to see what techniques other writers use and how they use them.,
5. There’s more than one way to advance.
There’s running and passing and all kinds of trick plays. For a writer, this means knowing what writing techniques are available (see #4) and what effects each one produces.
6. You have to be open the opportunities that present themselves.
The best quarterbacks are able to see the whole field and to recognize what options for advancement are available. For a writer, this means not only knowing what writing techniques are available, but seeing which approach or variation of an approach is the best choice in a particular context.
7. Sometimes you have to abandon one approach and try something else.
Often a team has to improvise when the planned play won’t work. For a writer, this means trying technique after technique to find the one that works best.
8. A season is more than just one game.
Whether a team wins or loses one week, it must be ready to play again a week later. For a writer, this means that finishing one piece means that it’s time to start working on the next one.