I have ransacked the internet consuming any and all tips on writing. I have blindly signed up for numerous newsletters that promised the solution to all of my writing issues. I have taken every free webinar about writing, knowing that they are an obvious inducement to enlist for more detailed study guaranteeing my book would be published, and all my worries would be turned into a six-figure income from writing, blogging, speaking, and publishing.
HELPFUL GUIDANCE IS EVERYWHERE – BUT IS IT THE ANSWER?
I cannot tell you categorically that all the information was wrong, unworthy of my time, not based upon any provable theory, because that would be disingenuous. While there were many insightful observations and helpful hints, most of them miss the essential ingredient to writing. Some do mention the issue, but their solution is wide of the mark, because the only solution is far too blunt if you’re trying win friends, and influence people to pay for your services.
Shocking to me, but I began to realize this essential ingredient while perusing some sports columns! Yes, you read that correctly: Sports Columns! The first incident involved a video recording of Sydney Seau’s intended Hall of Fame speech for her Father Junior Seau. Before Seau’s tragic suicide, he asked his daughter to deliver the entry speech should he be voted in to the Hall. The NFL refused to do so, but the Times videoed the speech in her hotel room that day. The second incident involved Lou Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide pre-season camp. Apparently Saban does not use depth charts, and there is much speculation regarding the quarterback candidates in camp.
WRITING TIPS FROM THE WORLD OF SPORTS?
How does this relate to writing?
Answer: In every imaginable way!
Sydney Seau was not tremendously involved in her father’s career. The father she remembered was overwhelmingly driven. He had a passion for everything, and that included her. As relentless as he was on the football field, he was equally as relentless towards everything that mattered away from football – wife, family, neighbors, friends, the community.
Juxtapose that with Saban’s answer to sports writers regarding why he doesn’t keep depth charts. Saban dismissed depth charts because there are only three things he needs to know about any player: 1. What do you really want? 2. What are you willing to do to achieve that goal? 3. And if you meet an challenge, any challenge large or small, how do you handle it?
THE BASICS ARE PRETTY BASIC…
It occurs to me then, any of us aspiring to a successful writing career – and if we measure that success by being published and making money – these three questions are fundamental, basic, bedrock, absolutely necessary for success (This assumes you are writing for something other than yourself – an entirely different paradigm). That means also, that anyone who says you can’t be a writer because you didn’t start reading at age three consuming War and Peace in less than five days, and start writing by the age of five, completing your first failed novel by age nine, are jealous gatekeepers.
The notion that 10,000 hours equals mastery might well be off the mark too.
All the other hints from Heloise are useful window dressing for the productive work of writing, but heart is the only thing that matters. Nothing matters but you and your heart! If you are not willing to do what is necessary, it will not happen. Junior Seau lived that in every aspect of his life; Lou Saban looks for it in his players as a benchmark for their playability.
Personally, I struggle with time. I lament the lack of time to concentrate on my writing without interruption, conflict, or other irritations. I read that if you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done. Sounds very wise and ultimately true. Life does get in the way, and often the demands of life are not frivelous, but legitimate demands upon our concern, attention, care, and interest. I have written detailed schedules of writing only to have them wasted by real life demands. What do I do about those distractions? How do I handle them? Mostly I back off and succumb to those demands entirely; and by entirely, I mean I allow those demands to bury my life. That’s not how Jr. Seau would handle those issues; and I certainly wouldn’t make Saban’s team!
Time for change, wouldn’t you say? For you also?
I look forward to hearing your comments regarding these thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org.