Growing up in a family of athletes and coaches (high school), I don’t know how it was possible for me not to love organized sports. But I do not.
Sunday afternoons as a kid was all about squeezing into the dining room with extended family to laugh and talk over huge meals. It also meant afterward enduring hours of sports being played on TV. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football. It didn’t matter the season. There was always some kind of game being played somewhere.
While I rarely watch a game, I root for the home team when it comes to the championships. That’s why I'm cheering for the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. I’m also drawn to the team’s mantra, a quote from their beloved colleague who battled cancer --- Keep pounding.
Stirred by the Panthers' quest to be the best, I found five pieces of advice from the world of football to inspire authors to produce their best, too, and keep pounding the keyboard.
1. It’s a Long-term Game
Don’t give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half.
―Paul 'Bear' Bryant
Former American college football player and coach
Experts counsel it takes several years and publishing as many books to make it as an author.
This fact of writing life drives me crazy. I am impatient. I want success n*o*w. Sigh. I try to pace myself and enjoy the loonnnng writing ride. Truth be told, there are days I want to scream and tear out my hair. But I turn the crawl into a game and find something to laugh about.
Expect and accept: the going is slow. Don’t get upset if you don’t see the results you want, especially as you begin your writing journey.
2. The Field is Bumpy
It's football season; anything can happen.
Former professional American football player
You’re a writer, so anything and everything will happen. Whether you’re searching for an agent, going the Indie route, or fighting tech gremlins that want to eat your manuscript, writing is fraught with literary curves and technology potholes.
Keep the pitfalls in stride, and author onward. Some of my most creative outputs came from finding work-arounds to problems that blind-sided me.
3. Take Care of YOU
It's not the load that breaks you down,
it's the way you carry it.
― Lou Holtz
Former college football coach, College Football Hall of Fame
Like football, writing is an all-consuming passion. At first, I worked at it for 10-hour days, seven days a week --- a sure formula for disaster. I learned to pace myself, even unplugging for a few hours or a few days.
Give that elusive chapter or frustrating e-book format a rest. Walk around the block, hug a puppy, or text a friend. And if you find yourself close to burn out, allow yourself an off-season: take a few weeks or months away. Find whatever you need to re-set your mind, and then get back to the laptop. Guarantee the task will be there when you’re ready to tackle it.
4. Celebrate Small Wins
It’s the journey; not the destination.
former professional American football player and coach
Because writing is a long game (see #1), you gotta value every victory and see the glass being half full. I was bemoaning the omission of my website URL on a goofy Facebook video I impulsively shot of my icy trek to fetch the newspaper during a recent storm. That video garnered nearly 9,000 views…that’s a ton for me. Hello, Cat ... 9,000 views? Shout, "Hallelujah!"
I keep a Happy File --- paper and electronic copies of notes and images I receive about my books and blogs. Like a screen shot of that 9,000-view video or reader Jessica’s message about how her daughter loves to read my Finding Fuzzy story at bedtime. When I’m low (yep, I get down sometimes, despite being an optimist.), I dig into my Happy File to feel better.
I’m also jazzed when celebrating others’ successes, especially seeing hard-working authors soar. There’s something lovely about sharing good news and stepping into that circle of gladness. Your endorphins do the happy dance.
5. Nourish the Soul
Always have four things in life: Something to do. Someone to love. Something to hope for. Something to believe in.
Former college football coach,
Inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame
Connecting with family, friends, neighbors, and community feeds the creative soul. Plus, you get to be with people instead of staying inside your head, pounding alone at the keyboard. It’s amazing how much more I accomplish after time with friends.
And I’m energized tackling other creative outlets, like photography and garden design. I love seeing their immediate results instead of waiting forever on writerly matters like publishing a book.
More than being productive, research results demonstrate that people with active social connections are healthier and live longer. These connections are especially important if you’re an introvert as many authors are, so get out there and mingle! Then you can keep pounding.
How do these inspirations from football work for you?
What other suggestions can you offer to keep creatives pounding away?
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The writing journey is a long one. And with all that social media and technology in the mix, it's easy to feel overloaded. To make it easier, I share angst-saving tips found along my way. I'm still learning, so please join me. Let's travel this writing journey and learn together.
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