With the Winter Olympics well underway, I've been thinking about how much I can identify with the athletes. No, not in the physical sense (I wish) but in the overall sense. Here are a few things writers have in common with the typical Olympian. See if you can also relate.
Starting Young. Most athletes that eventually reach Olympic status have natural talent that probably started showing up at a very young age. Maybe the first time Mom and Dad took their four-year-old son ice skating, he was doing triple axels. Okay, maybe not. But there was likely something that indicated his ability. Or, perhaps the child just developed an interest in snowboarding that didn't turn out to be "just a phase" but grew into a burning passion for the sport.
Likewise, writers often know that they know they were born to be a writer. And usually this happens at a very young age. I wrote my first "novel" in 6th grade and haven't put my pen down since (until I purchased my first computer, of course).
The Determination to Push Through. Athletes are the hardest working people ever, often training many hours per day. This is because they know it is only through practice that they will become excellent. Despite their bad moods, sprained ankles, and frustrations, they keep on keeping on - right to the Olympic starting line.
If you're like most writers, writing is on the same level as breathing. You must do it or you'll die. And honing our craft isn't an option if we want to be published. And being published doesn't happen unless we spend hours and hours writing, rewriting, marketing, promoting, and submitting. The laundry pile may be shouting our name, we may have a temp of 101, or be dog-tired. But does that stop us? Nope. We. Must. Press. On.
The Need to Accept Help. Athletes have coaches. Managers. Trainers. Someone or a group of people that teach them the technical stuff. Correct them when they make a mistake. Encourage them to do better. Push them to work harder when the athlete feels she's given all she has.
In a writer's world, they're called critique partners. And they offer the same help: teaching, correcting, encouraging, pushing. Personally, I wouldn't be where I am without the support of some wonderful critique buddies along the way.
A Rubber Band Mentality. In spite of all their hard work and training, when it comes down to it, athletes bomb. They fall, they make a mistake, they miss the mark. Judges give them bad scores. Fellow contestants jeer (or have their boyfriend attack another contender on the ice to prevent her from succeeding). However, athletes tend to be resilient. They bounce back from failure by picking themselves (and their egos) off the floor and focusing on the next Olympic games.
Most writers can relate. After months and months of preparing a novel, it's rejected. And rejected. And rejected. Maybe the author gets published only to have her excitement snuffed out with a bad review or twenty. She may even get attacked by readers who debate the subject matter or theology. BUT...after taking time to wallow and cry for a while, there's not much that can stop a writer from writing altogether. Eventually, she'll pick herself up, pray for guidance, put on a slightly tougher skin, and embrace that rubber band mentality.
What else do writers and Olympians have in common?