Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Going for Gold (A Writer's Inspirational and Pictorial Olympic Recap)

So, I’ve spent my past two weeks watching a lot of this

Gymnastics, swimming, soccer, diving, archery, riding….SO MUCH. I honestly haven’t watched this much Olympics, this much television, since I sported leg warmers and feathered hair. I think it has a little something with having a teen in the house (you can read my thoughts on that here), but I also think it has a little something to do with country pride, passion, and a whole lot of inspiration.

The interviews glued me too, and one in particular struck the writing chord, one after an American athlete tore apart the track and added to the growing USA gold stockpile (I think it was Aries Merritt, after he gold medaled in the hurdles, almost breaking a world record. Google fails to provide me a successful search). Anyway, in the follow-up interview, he was asked if he saw the time, if he knew he knew he almost broke a world record. He shook his head and said that he just had to run like a world-class athlete.

A world-class athlete.

I imagine being a world-class athlete involves a lifetime of training, years and years of blood, sweat, and many tears. A mixture of other ingredients that morphs the ordinary into someone incredibly extraordinary. And of course my immediate thoughts went to writing and what it takes to write like a World-Class-Writer. And I have a few thoughts to share. Lucky you. :)

How to write like a World-Class-Writer

1) Train, train, train—write every day, read craft books, read books in your genre, attend workshops (free one (writeoncon) this week!), have mad gab sessions about writing, participate in writing groups. Oh, and write. EVERY DAY. Did I mention that? Good. It’s kind of important.

2) Work through the pain.

I think it’s great that, for some people, writing is a hobby, and they write when inspired. But I can’t do that. If I want to be a World-Class-Writer, I have to write EVERY DAY. Most days I LOVE this idea, but I'll admit, there are days when I absolutely dread opening a document, when I know the writing will be mentally exhausting, but I make myself do it anyway.

3) Set goals—long range. Short range. Daily goals work well for me. Find what works for you.

4) Celebrate—small victories. Big ones.

Last second miracle finishes.

If you’ve achieved word count for the day, if you roughed out a query, if you tweaked that one paragraph that’s been the thorn in your pecking finger—reward yourself. Celebration is important too.

5) Surround yourself with support

Family, friends, amazing critique partners and beta readers, blogging buddies, twitter peeps—people who will encourage you and push and pull you. Make you BETTER.

6) Support others. Encourage and push them, celebrate their achievements, relentlessly brag about their accomplishments, encourage them when they’re down.

Be this guy...

7) Have patience—it’s a process, often times a long and arduous one. Allow yourself time to write, to revise, to polish. To experience several rejections before one request. To fail before you succeed.

8) Learn what advice to take, what to ignore. There are a lot of people out there dishing out writing advice and *gasp* they don’t all know what they’re talking about. Learn to weed out the helpful from the ignorant, and above all else, IGNORE THE NAYSAYERS

They thought these guys wouldn’t medal

And they thought these ladies would drop their batons. HA!

Better yet—don’t just ignore the naysayers, PROVE THEM WRONG.

9) Allow grief, realize that disappointment is a part of the process—it’s going to happen, people. A rejection on a query. On a full from your dream agent. A not-so-uplifting critique. Allow yourself to be sad about it. Frustrated even.

10) But move on.

11) Enjoy the ride.

Write for yourself. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I KNOW. You have an audience to consider, people who expect a certain level of performance from you, but you know what? If you’re not happy with what you’re doing, fix that. Write because you love to write. Write what you love to write. Yes, consider your audience, your fans. Your mother’s ethical and moral child-rearing. But ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you. And for your story.

12) Finally, GO FOR GOLD.

Last week, after this

debates on whether or not athletes should be "satisfied with silver" or if they consider it "settling" sparked interesting discussion between my daughter and me. She felt the athletes should be ecstatic to just be at the Olympics, and while I definitely agree, yes, there is something unique and special about performing in London (heck, just BEING in London), I explained to her that a “settling for silver” mindset is not what got them there. These athletes are where they are today because they HUNGER for gold. Silver is a close second, an almost there, an I came up short. I can completely sympathize with McKayla Maroney, and I don’t ever want to feel like I "almost made it."

So, going for gold means I have to make every word count, tie up every loose plot thread, kill scenes and darlings that are extra fat in my manuscript. I have to type until my fingers blister, train until my mind is stuffed with knowledge, and write my heart out.

I’m all about training for a writing gold. You with me?

Side note: Alison does, like, half those things on the list. This was another one of her inspirational inner pep talks. Hope you enjoyed the side benefits.

 Anything else you think I should add to my list? What was YOUR favorite part of the Olympics?


  1. Great post! Great anologies. I've been doing Camp NaNo Wri Mo. Some days are great. Some days really suck.


    1. One of these years, I WILL do a Camp NaNo. I may need to reread this post before then! Good luck

  2. I didn't watch the Olympics at all and was unaware of almost all of it except what came across on my Facebook newsfeed. As for the girl looking dissatisfied w/ her medal, I read an interview w/ her where she said she was disappointed in herself for making the mistakes that cost her the gold, but she was thrilled to have the silver. Anywho that's great advice and I am applying it to my crafting, since I don't write. :)

    1. Yes, I know she was thrilled. I capitalized on her initial disappointment. My heart broke for her. And yes - I think these can be applied in many arenas!

  3. LOVED this post!! And EXACTLY! JUST BEING in the Olympics has got to be awesome enough. At least for me, lol.

    And yeah, I watched the Olympics for many hours too! :D

    I really liked how you linked this to writing, and you're right! Many of those points hit home.


    1. Thanks! I loved getting back into watching the Olympics!

  4. Great post! I'm with you on the "settling for silver"--you always have to push for the best possible. But I also think that once the competition's over, it's good to be satisfied with what you got (and then get ready for the next challenge).

    1. AGREED. And I know that's what McKayla's doing too. :)

  5. This is such a fantastic post, Alison! Love all the images (gymnastics and swimming are my favorite!) and the message behind each one is perfect. You're making me excited for Rio! ;)

    1. Oh, I can't wait! Except my daughter will be preparing to enter her senior year of high school then. Oy.

  6. Yesssssss! The good thing about being a writer is that we can try for gold multiple times. We don't just get one Olympics every four years (and how many times can an athlete realistically go?) but as many manuscripts as we can write. And hopefully one will be the gold that gets an agent, or a book deal, or a spot on the NYT bestseller list. But, thank goodness, those can all be DIFFERENT books that win us a different kind of gold.

    1. Yes, I thought about everyone's own definition of gold when I wrote this post and I think it's going to vary from person to person. But as long as you're giving it all you got - that's what matters.

  7. This is a great post! Very inspiring :) My favourite parts: Aly Raisman's amazing floor routine and the US women winning the relay. I would love to be a gold medal writer but right now I think I'm more of a copper medal one!

    1. Oh, I saw both of those events and LOVED.

  8. Nice article, thanks for sharing.

  9. Inspiring, I'm only on the stage of Novelist though, so up until now, I still unsure whether I did my best write an article...

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