5 Things I Learned about Writing from Olympic Athletes

It was a little difficult writing during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. I kept finding myself distracted (but in a good way) by incredible athletes and their amazing achievements, watching them swim, kick, cycle, row, dive, lift… it goes on and on. And those rugby girls- are you kidding me? They are so much tougher than I could ever be. Then there are the superstars: Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles…  we don’t even realize how fantastically talented they are because they make it look so easy!

Writing takes hardly the same amount of stamina, physical strength, or dieting requirements (no pizza?) as these sporting events require.  But, I do think writers can learn a thing or two from athletes.

Things like:

Passion- Are you passionate about writing? You likely are, or you wouldn’t bother doing it. But passion is also about recognizing just how important writing is in your life, and you must feed that zeal with hard work. The amount of passion you put into your writing relates to your output. If you put yourself fully into your writing, such as the athlete puts herself completely into her sport, astounding results will occur. Passion is another word for enthusiasm. Be enthusiastic about your writing, and it will reward you.

Dedication & Discipline– Athletes put their minds and bodies through vigorous training, nutritional limitations, and targeted methods to ensure their success. They do this for the end result, for the hopeful victory, despite the risk of injury, or the possibility of defeat. Dedication for the writer is not so extreme, but it is just as important. A writer must dedicate himself to his craft. He must create a plan of action and stick to it. He must devote daily scheduled time to his craft. This is the writer’s way to victory. Like the athlete, the writer may risk some defeat, some rejection, some pain, but must never give up. Discipline is the difference in any endeavor.runners

Focus & Determination– Watch an athlete just before they begin their moment, their jump, their game, their race- what have you. Look at their expression. What do you see there? A steady, quiet, fierce focus. A determination to give it all they’ve got. Sheer resolve. Guts. Do you have that tenacity, writer? You should. Despite what doubts or fears they have, athletes face them head-on. Writers, who are known for self-doubt and endless wondering-if-you-are-good-enough, well, you need this. You need to channel determination regardless of what you may fear. Even if no one believes you can do it. YOU need to believe. So, think about keeping the athlete’s vision of headstrong focus, and strong-willed determination to succeed every time you write. Believe you have what it takes, because you do!

Strength & Teamwork– The athlete invokes strength (of body and mind) to his or her sport. Even a solo athlete relies on a team of either peer athletes of the same organization or country, or the team of their families and friends who support them.  Strength of mind and body is needed in writing as well. To keep your writing brain strong, you need hours of practice. The more you write, the better you get. The writer’s mind also needs exercise, adequate sleep and hydration (and probably some coffee too!) A sharp minded writer can create more effective content, whether writing novels, technical copy, or news articles. As for teamwork, even if you work solo, you likely have some relationships with other writer’s, either in a local writing group or online. If you don’t, you should! There is much to learn from other writers. It also helps to know you are not alone in your struggles. Writers generally support each other without regard for competition. We all have our own unique voice, so there is no need for that. We’re all in this together!

Power & Freedom– When an athlete engages in the sport or game they have passion for, you can see energy and power emanating from them. It is not only for the win that they do it. It is for the love and freedom of it. Do you see your writing that way? Writing is a powerful thing. It comes from inside of YOU. It belongs to you, and only you. No one will write exactly like you do. When you give the world your gift of writing, it is power and freedom. It is yours!

If you don’t love what you are currently writing, maybe it’s time to reflect on your passions. If you prefer to write novels but have only been writing non-fiction, give it a try. If you write freelance articles but feel a book of poetry in you, do it. The cool thing about writing is you can write one thing one day, and an entirely different thing the next, and go back and forth anytime you want to. Write for your passion. It doesn’t always have to be the same thing. That is the freedom of writing.

This is your writing path. You can make it ANYTHING you want to. Experience the power and freedom of it by putting in your passion, dedication, discipline, focus, determination and strength. Great things will come of it.  And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

~Lynn

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