The ever-talented Alex Cavanaugh shares his advice as part of the Olympic Blog Relay. I've gotta say - I love this post!
Writing Should be an Olympic Sport
If the past two weeks of Olympic coverage have taught us anything, it should be that sports and writing have a lot in common. Granted we don’t usually sweat or experience injuries. (Unless we’re prone to falling out of our chairs.) But the similarities are striking and reveal more than the tip of the iceberg.
Athletes at the Olympics fall into several categories: those who are grateful just to be there, those trying to attain a personal best, those hoping to medal, and those who won’t be happy unless they win Gold.
Writers who become authors also fall into several categories: those happy to self-publish, those grateful to land a publisher, those grateful for their agent, and those who won’t be happy unless they achieve bestseller status.
Athletes spend endless hours training. They get up hours before dawn to practice. They push themselves beyond the limit every single day, struggling through pain and injury.
Writers spend long hour perfecting their craft. We work on our manuscripts whenever possible, be it late at night or early in the morning. We study and take classes, trying to hone our skills.
Athletes make many sacrifices. They lose sleep. They forego their favorite foods. They miss out on a social life or lose time with their family. Training and competitions take them away from home. They sacrifice money they don’t possess.
Writers make sacrifices. We also lose sleep. We give up other pastimes to write. We don’t spend as much time with our families. We don’t go out and enjoy life like normal people. We spend endless hours writing with no fanfare or encouragement.
Athletes don’t just practice, practice, practice, and then show up for the Olympic tryouts. There are endless races and competitions they must attend. There are tryouts and qualifications. They need these to advance their careers.
Writers can’t just write and then produce a great book. We need to study and learn our craft. We need to read writing books, attend classes, and go to conferences. We need to perfect query writing and gain acceptance.
Finally, athletes must be ready for defeat. Sometimes they stumble and fall. Sometimes they are disqualified. Sometimes they give it their all, but it’s just not enough to win or place. They need to pick themselves back up and try again.
Writers also experience defeat. We spend months on a manuscript only to realize it’s not very good. Our critique partners suggest massive changes. Our query letters meet with rejection. Our pitches are met with ‘no thanks.’ Our agent can’t find a home for our manuscript. With each of these scenarios, we need to keep trying.
And after all that, we really should get a medal when we succeed!
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of Amazon Best Sellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
Thanks, Alex! You're Olympic material in my book.