Tuesday, August 9, 2016

5 Ways Writing is like the Olympics

Photo: Wikipedia

The Olympics fever is in full swing now, and athletes from across the globe are giving it their all to be the very best. Here are 5 things writing and the Olympics have in common:

1. It Connects People from Across the Globe

Just as the Games draws people to a central avenue every four years, writing also brings people together in various ways and at various times. With the advent of technology and social media, connecting with other writers is a vital way to build a community of like-minded individuals who are on the same journey as you are. 

Athletes mingle and socialize at the Olympic Village, and writers have their own "villages" in the form of conferences and writing workshops. People gather at these events, show their expertise in panels and discussions, and are able to buy merchandise from various participating authors. 

Writing brings people together who may not have done so otherwise, and I think that’s a great thing.

2. Sometimes It's a Sprint, and Sometimes It’s a Marathon

Runners, swimmers, and other athletes push their bodies to the limits in various ways at the Olympics. Some sprint for short distances, using speed to their advantage, while others conserve their energy to perform over long distances. Writing can also take these two forms as well. 

There are micro-sprints like mywriteclub.com where you put down as many words as possible within a set time, and there are longer sprints like NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWrimo. These events last for a month, and require a dedication, focus and output over a longer period of time with the end reward of a novel (or whatever your WC goal is). 

Other career authors may write every day, and that's an even bigger test of endurance. Whatever path you choose, writing can certainly feel like a race to a finish line.

3. Popularity and the Market

Some sports may be more popular than others. Women’s gymnastics, for example, seems to garner more views than say, Rowing. Some sports may appeal to a wider audience while others are considered more of a niche. Some sports receive more sponsors and more "airtime" than others, and that is a sad, but true, thing. In many ways, writing is similar.

Some writers produce work that has a mass appeal, like the time when the market was flooded with romance novels back in the day. I remember I couldn't go to the store without seeing multiple books by Danielle Steele lining the shelves. Then the market flooded with trends like dystopian and paranormal books, and certain authors benefitted from this more than others. And just like those niche sports, if you are a writer who publishes books set in the United State’s "Old West," then your reach may not extend to as many people as someone else.

Therefore, authors have many things to consider if they want to dive into the world of publication: What are they writing for? Is it for a career, or are they doing it solely for their own personal satisfaction? Do they want to write for a market trend (or what they perceive to be future trends) or are they willing to accept that their readership may only be within the hundreds instead of the thousands and beyond?

The more popular the topic of the book is, the more marketing it also tends to receive from publishers. And while all publishing paths are different and the author is expected to pull some of their weight in marketing their work, exposure can go a long way in today’s society of information overload.

4. Training and Persistence

Olympians: "I'm going to slay this event" face; Writers: "I have a 20 pg. edit letter, and I have to kill off a character I love" face= same. Photo: http://www.kjrh.com/

Olympians train for hours to be fit to perform for their event, often forgoing things like a social life or a sense of a normalcy compared to others. They have to work out, eat healthy, and maintain top condition to compete in something like the Olympics. These athletes have routines and regiments that propel them forward to success.

Likewise, authors must always focus on perfecting their craft, even if they aren’t actually writing. They, too, have to implement regular writing hours (even if it isn’t every day) in order to finish a manuscript or piece of work. The amount of discipline needed to consistently produce quality work is high, just like any other athlete (although hopefully, writers won’t have to sustain too many physical injuries while perfecting craft or learning dialogue. :p)

Athletes and writers must have more than discipline to soar above the rest of the crowd. They must have persistence as well. People will turn them away, tell them "no", and reject them. These are the norms and not exceptions. The Olympians pushed through these negativities and wound up competing on the global stage, and writers must do the same.

We must be persistent. After every door closed, we must look for new ones to open. It's this combination of training and persistence that helps writers achieve their goals.  

5. A Passion to Do What You Love

And finally, one of the biggest similarities between writing and the Olympics is the intense passion inherent in both athletes and writers. Olympians start with the love of a sport that morphs into something grander—a dream of success either for themselves or their country. 

Writers also write for many different reasons. Some began with a passion for reading, while others have something to say. Whatever the reason, there's the driving force of enthusiasm that keeps writers writing when others may have given up. 

So I say to you, fellow writer: never lose sight of the fires of your passion when it comes to writing what you love. It’s the passion and zeal spilling onto the white spaces of the page that creates something magical.      

As always, may your words be great and your pages many.

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