It’s football season. Yea! Or, maybe you said, “Nay!” Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, football holds some key lessons for writers.
LESSON 1: Aim carefully.
The target in football is to gain points by moving the ball over the goal line. The head coach and his players have a plan, a strategy, to score points and win the game.
Writers also need a goal and a plan. What do you want to accomplish with your writing? How will you prepare to reach your goal?
LESSON 2: Make wise decisions.
Football is about playing smart. For example, a quarterback decides to which player he will attempt to throw the football. A coach decides whether or not to play through a fourth down. A poor decision can cost points or even the game.
Fiction writers, above all, need to make wise decisions when they write. A poor decision in creating the plot, defining the characters, choosing a point-of-view . . . . can ruin the whole story.
LESSON 3: Don’t be afraid to take chances.
It’s the last quarter of the game. Your team is down by seven points and the clock is ticking off the final seconds. The only chance to tie the game is for the quarterback to throw a Hail Mary Pass (a long pass toward the goal line) hoping that one of his players catches it and carries it in for the touchdown. He takes the chance. He throws—and it works! The pass is caught and carried.
If a writer feels that adding something extreme, and maybe even a bit crazy, feels right, then he or she should be willing to be creative and take a chance that editors and readers will love it.
LESSON 4: Learn from the “greats”.
Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Johnny Unitas . . . . these are a few of the greatest football players of all time. Today’s players learn by studying the skill sets of the “greats”.
Likewise, writers sharpen their craft by reading and studying the work of great authors.
LESSON 5: You can’t always win.
Coach Vince Lombardi said, “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.”
Think about it: Do you rise after you fall? If your book is rejected again and again will you keep getting up and moving toward your goal?
LESSON 6: Be respectful.
I’m a Green Bay Packers fan. I’ve always had respect for Coach Mike McCarthy, but last week after a bad call by the refs Coach McCarthy had a meltdown. He walked onto the field and shouted what I assume was profanity at a referee. His actions resulted in a 15-yard penalty for his team.
Like players and referees, authors and editors sometimes have salty relationships. Still, it’s important to show respect. A single tantrum can tarnish your reputation as someone who’s easy to work with.
LESSON 7: Use the off-season to stay in shape.
What do football players do when they aren’t playing football? They’re working to stay in shape!
What do you do between writing projects? How do you stay fit to prepare for the next “game”?
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