Growing up in a family of athletes and coaches, I don’t know how it was possible for me not to love organized sports. But I do not.
Sunday afternoons as a kid meant enduring hours of sports on TV. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football. It didn’t matter the season. There was always some kind of game being played somewhere.
While I watch infrequently as an adult, I cheer for my home team, the Carolina Panthers, whenever I tune in. Can't tell you who's playing what or where, but I’m drawn to the Panther’s mantra, a quote from a 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. The Road is Bumpy
It’s football season; anything can happen.
― Troy Brown, 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.
Some of my most creative outputs came from finding work-arounds to problems that blind-sided me. Keep the pitfalls in stride, and author onward.
2. Celebrate Small Wins
It’s the journey; not the destination.
― Tony Dungy, former professional American football player and coach
Because writing is a long game (see #5), you gotta value every victory. I’ve wanted to quit more times than I care to remember since I started writing full time in 2013. Writing can be a lonely and discouraging path.
But I was lifted up in 2019. After six years of authoring, my chapter book, Sweet T and the Turtle Team, won three international awards for best writing in children's literature. Plus, it was considered by a major Hollywood film studio for adaptation to movies or TV.
I’m also jazzed when celebrating others’ successes, especially seeing hard-working creatives soar. There’s something joyful about sharing good news and stepping into that circle of gladness. Your endorphins do the happy dance.
And so, we keep plugging along together.
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, Inductee in the 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 days or (gasp!) weeks at a time to refresh my computer and my soul.
Give that elusive chapter or frustrating book formatting a rest. Walk around the block, hug a puppy, or text a friend. And if you find yourself near burnout, allow yourself an off-season: take a few weeks or months away. Find whatever you need to reset, and then get back to the game. Guarantee the task will be there when you’re ready to tackle it.
4. Find People, Projects to Nourish the Soul
Always have four things in life: Something to do. Someone to love. Something to hope for. Something to believe in.
– Lou Holtz, Former American college football coach, Inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame
Connecting with family, friends, neighbors, and community feeds the 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.
I’m energized tackling other creative outlets, like photography and garden design. Besides being fun, 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!
5. It’s a Long 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.
Don’t be upset if you don’t see the results you want, especially as you begin your writing journey. Expect and accept: the going is slow. It will keep you in the game!
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