Olympians, whether they earn gold, silver or bronze, or just compete at that elite level, have huge mountains to climb. When they set out on their goals of wanting to be in the Olympics – and that is what many of them say they did at seven or eight years old – those mountains must have seemed a very long way off.
It strikes me that the one thing that all these top athletes have in common is perseverance. That dogged determination to get there no matter what. They give it everything they have and more and they stick it out. They must have the ability to hang on in there, through the pain, through the local competitions, through the successes and failures, until one day, they are selected to compete for their country. And even then, there is the distinct possibility that they will fail, lose at that eleventh hour. And with a once in every four years window, their chance may never come again. For many, that is it. By the time it all comes round next time, they are too old, too out of touch with the next generation of athletes. They have missed their goal.
Yet they try. Over all the years, the lumps and bumps, the injuries, the enormous mountains that have to be conquered, they train. They hold in their mind the slim chance of success.
As writers, we have to do the same. Those ambitions of getting the novel started, plotting and plodding through to the end. Revising and revising. These are our training grounds. These are our hurdles. I know am borrowing the phrase, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.
We have to stick it out to the very end and whatever the result, whether it is reading our stories to our grandchildren to being published and being the next literary prize winner, we have to give it everything we have. We have to keep faith, be determined, maintain the dream. And the only way to do that is to write, through all the barriers that come our way, including our very own selves.
So find a picture of a mountain, label it your dream and tell yourself you will climb that mountain, because you have what those athletes have: perseverance.