What can aspiring writers learn from the Olympics?

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.

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7 responses to “What can aspiring writers learn from the Olympics?

  1. I found a picture of a city on the coast, maybe Miami, that shows a building on the water’s edge. The first thought that came to mind when I saw that building was: I want to jump off of that. Of course, I plan to have a wind suit for such a thing, but to jump off of that building and soar out toward the open ocean is apparently a dream of mine. I’ll do what I’m able to make it happen, sometime or another. Now, to climb up the mountain in order to soar over it – there’s the goal without offered directions.

  2. What a great comparison! It is something I have to keep telling myself. Just keep at it. I finally finished a draft of a short story a few weeks ago but it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it. I need to sit down and do some editing, but just haven’t found the motivation lately. I guess I better stare at my favorite picture of the ocean to motivate myself to polish that story.

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