I’ve always loved football. I remember watching the 49ers with my dad when I was little. I remember cheering when he cheered and asking countless questions about the game. I learned quickly. (I also learned that my mom watched for the tight pants. Good on ya, mom. Thanks for the lesson.) If I were male, tougher, taller, etc. I would’ve loved to play in school. The closest I could get to the football field was the sidelines, cheering on the team in a skirt, so that’s what I settled for. I was a cheerleader because I loved the lights, the adrenaline, the strategy, the strength, and the excitement. It’s no wonder I married the quarterback of our high school football team. I was the cheerleader who was distracted by the game. The one telling a few others whether we were on offense or defense so they could call the right cheer.
So today, as I sit on the couch watching the 49ers preseason game against the Vikings (go Niners!), with my computer on my lap to maybe, possibly plot Seattle Wolf Pack #3, I can’t help but think about how much carry-over there is from football to writing. Really, I suppose these comparisons could be used against any team sport, but I’m watching football, so here you go.
I give you, EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING AND PUBLISHING, I LEARNED FROM WATCHING FOOTBALL.
- No matter what happens, keep your eye on the goal.
- If you get hit (with a poor review, difficult critique, etc), all that matters is that you get back up.
- It takes a team (critique partners, writing groups, editors, proof readers, marketing and publishing professionals, assistants, retailers, book bloggers, readers, etc.) to be successful.
- Trust that the members of your team will do their job so that you can do yours. (Write your next best book!)
- You can measure inches, yards, and downs (steps and/or setbacks along your journey), but you can’t measure heart.
- There will always be someone stronger, faster, and seemingly better than you. Try your best, it’s all you can do.
- “Almost a first down”, much like “almost wrote my word count today”, doesn’t cut it. If you want it, you have to push harder.
- There are players who have natural ability and those who have to work harder to achieve success. Accept that you may be working ten times harder than someone else; also accept that it doesn’t make you less capable of being successful.
- If the passing game isn’t working for you, how’s your running game? (ie: If the dark paranormal market isn’t selling well, and you can’t sell your dark paranormal proposal, try writing light paranormal. Or contemporary. Or romantic suspense. Or…)
- Learn from the best.
- Study your competition before game day.
- Don’t burn bridges. If you get dropped from one team (or publishing house), leave on good terms. You never know when you’ll be coached (or edited) by someone on that team later in your career.
- Give every play (or writing day) your all.
- If you’re competing with the big dogs, be a big dog. Have confidence in your abilities.
- You may never be a legend (ie: Joe Montana, Deion Sanders, Nora Roberts, Daphne duMaurier), but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference to your team, and your fans. And hey, you know what? You can be that legend!
- Be smart about the game (and the publishing industry) and know how it’s changing.
- Some of the people you play with on the field (or meet in the industry), will end up being the best friends you’ve ever had.
- There is always room at the top, so don’t stop reaching for that ultimate goal.
- You could have the most talent of anyone playing (or writing) but a bad attitude will lose you fans (and readers). The opposite could also be argued.
- Listen to your coach (or agent, editor)–they know what they’re talking about.
Last, but not least…
21. Heroes always look good in tight pants.