Today's Torchbearer: Alex Cavanaugh

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.


  1. Hello lovely Nicole! Thank you for hosting Alex J, the Cap'n Ninja!! I couldn't agree more with the Ninja Master! I am thoroughly enjoying this Olympics and have cheered and cried and gawped at all the talent involved! There is so much blood sweat and tears going on! Just like when creating art! Take care

  2. Great words to ponder, from the pen of the Captain Ninja Torchbearer! Passion and talent aside, it makes me think that writing is NOT for the faint-hearted....
    Thanks Nicole and Alex!

  3. Great comparisons, but I have to admit although I have enjoyed the Olympics they have been a terrible distraction from writing, sleep, ...

  4. I have not been getting much writing done while watching these Olympics! Only once every two years, though, so I don't feel guilty. And the inspiration that comes from watching, not just for writing but for life ... well, it's worth it.

    I agree, writers should definitely earn medals when they (we) succeed!

  5. I had never thought of writing as being like an Olympic sport, but the way you put it, it most certainly is! Great post!

  6. Fabulous post, Alex! I love the idea! Just think of the events:

    -- Freestyle Plot Twists
    -- Character Development Hurdles
    -- Dialogue Distance Throw
    -- Rhythmic Backstory Placement
    -- Query-Writing Marathon
    -- Rejection Resistance Bouts

    LOL! ;^)

    Wonderful job to both you and Nicole!

  7. Great post from our ninja captain. Writers definitely make a lot of sacrifices and should be just as proud of themselves as Olympians are!

  8. Sweet relay you're running here Nicole. Great points Alex.

  9. And don't forget how similar it is when writers achieve their dream, be it finishing that book, landing an agent, signing a pub deal, or selling well. It's a moment of utter glory & happiness!

  10. Nice comparison. And timely.

    One question: What do writers and Beach Volleyball have in common ;)? No answer. Just distracting Alex from writing :).

  11. Great comparison, Alex.

    Writers totally deserve a medal for all the passion and perseverance they put into writing.

    "We spend endless hours writing with no fanfare or encouragement." ---> and often having to deal with criticism coming from those who should support us.

  12. Nancy, very true!

    She Writes - the answer is no matter what, we need to look good doing it!

    Thanks everyone!

  13. Great stuff - I AM kind of like an Olympic athlete. Thanks Alex.

  14. Intelligent and fun option for similarities between athletes and writers.

  15. Quick, someone come up with writing medals!

    Great post on the parallels between writing and the Olympics.

  16. Lovin' the post and the comments! If there were writing medals, you'd all be gold in my book.

  17. Rusty, glad I could make you feel better!

    Golden, I'll smelt some right away...

  18. Great comparison. We make many sacrifices and work hard at our craft.

  19. This is so true! Writers make sacrifices as much as athletes. Great points and comparison, Alex!

  20. How true, I know what you mean Alex. Your post is so inspirational, I discovered today that James Paillyhas written his final blog post because he wants to concentrate on his writing. The guy deserves encouragement from the blogsphere for his awesome work.

  21. Great post Alex! So happy I didn't miss it~ I think of all the books lately I have snagged hoping to get better, but I really need to fix my grammar first. I so want to write for Captain Kirk. He loves to pause and I can use more commas, lol

    This was insightful and thoughtful and makes one think! I wish we all could win something for our efforts! We do thought don't we...we win great blogging buddies, to share this process with. We all know this statement: "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!"

  22. Ella, Kirk is so dramatic!

    Thanks everyone - glad you guys enjoyed this.

  23. Those are great comparisions, Alex! Thanks for sharing. The pursuit of excellence, whether it is in sports or writing, requires the utmost dedication and sacrifice--just with a little less sweating (though every time I hit the send button to agents I did a fair amount of sweating). :)

  24. Michael, don't sweat the small stuff!

    Thanks again, Nicole.