Musings

Going for Gold

Picture it. I’m sitting in an armchair, watching the Games of the 31st Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro. The Olympics are a family tradition ever since my dad started watching them regularly from Los Angeles 1984. And since Salt Lake City 2002, I have been mesmerized by the majesty of the Games, the global community, and the power and stamina of the athletes.

By now, you’re all staring at this post asking “What does the Olympic Games have to do with my writing?” Well, as I sit on my perch watching the 110 meter hurdles, I made two realizations.

One: One of the most popular, challenging, and Olympic-sized writing events is about to happen in a few months–National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Two: Being a working writer, working to tight deadlines, pushing out long works under pressure requires the training, the preparation, and the stamina of a world-class Olympian.

Stamina. Commitment. Execution. Practice. To be successful at any venture, to achieve any sort of longevity, we all need to observe these elements. In an earlier message, I validated the huge amount of effort that goes into writing, the unseen work a writer puts into crafting his or her stories. And as I watched the Olympics, I saw definite links between those athletes and us wordsmiths.

We prepare ourselves in advance, doing our homework, our research, our outlines, our plotting. We train vigorously, writing and reading and writing and reading for hours and hours and hours. The more we practice, the more we prepare, the better our stamina and likelihood of success. We work hard and write constantly to increase our ability to write longer and sharper pieces.

Then comes game time: a deadline, a contest, a massive project. Maybe you have only thirty days to pump out fifty thousand words. Maybe you want to hit a defined goal of two thousand words a day. These challenges are your Olympic moment. You’ve trained for it; you’ve practiced and perfected and performed. Sometimes the challenge appears insurmountable. They aren’t. Center yourself. Set up your pre-race routine. Get your mind and your environment in the state you need it to be to perform at your best. Remember you’ve trained for this, all the hours reading and writing and rereading and editing and peer review and even more writing.

You’ve grown faster, higher, and stronger as a writer with all the work you’ve done.

So when the challenge awaits, the deadline looms, the personal goals stand before you, remember the stamina you’ve built as a writer. Remember your training. And trust in your ability to get the job done. With NaNoWriMo approaching, where hundreds of people around the country will undertake the challenge of crafting a novel in one month, and perhaps the pressures of professional writing laying just around the bend, go for the gold! You all have it in you to climb to the top of our podium! Go Team Writers!

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