How Boxing Can Make Us Better Writers–Lesson Two ENDURANCE
Yesterday we talked about how important it is to learn to take a hit. We grow, get tougher, get stronger, and we learn where we’re weak. Sometimes those weaknesses are what keep us from moving forward professionally, so it’s good to find them and strengthen them.
We have to learn to take hits because the world is full of petty, nasty people who will go for the TKO. We might even be related to more than a few.
I’ve written over 512 blogs over the past four years. Let’s say my blogs are 1,000 words long (which is on the low end for anyone who’s followed me for very long, :D). That’s over a half a million words just in blogs. This doesn’t count my books or guest blogs.
I blog for my city and am a featured blogger for SocialIn (with completely different content). My blogs reach hundreds of thousands of people in 26 major cities. Though I’ve easily written close to a million words in just blogs, I still have people infer I’m not a “real” expert/writer. Likely always will, too. Goes with the territory *shrugs*
And $20? It will happen to you, too.
Prepare for the:
“Well, you’re not a real writer because you didn’t traditionally publish.”
“Oh, you aren’t a best-seller so you aren’t a real writer.'”
“You haven’t made the NYT List, so who are you?”
“You don’t yet make your living writing full-time, so you’re not a real writer.”
Okay you win. You’re better than me. Um, I’ve got writing to do *checks watch*. Fun chatting, though :).
Roll with the punches and press on. Keep pressing and those people can just eat your dust later ;)…which leads me to today’s lesson.
Why we need to learn to toughen up is this—thick skin is vital for us to keep pressing even when we’re bloody, wounded or discouraged. Being a career writer isn’t a sprint. It’s a mega-marathon-mountain-climbing-Iron-Man. Many writers will fail not because of lack of talent, rather lack of staying power.
Appreciate that Training Often Involves “Other” Activities
Join a boxing gym and just expect to do a lot of jumping rope, running, sprinting, bag work, and you’ll get hit with a medicine ball…a lot.
Yet, at no time during my tenure “boxing” was I ever attacked by a jump rope or a medicine ball. Those “other activities” weren’t actual fighting, but they trained fighters for the endurance necessary to win in the ring.
Winning is frequently tied to staying power. Writing is no exception. Your mind, fingers and muse strengthen with focus, time, training and pain.
We’ll do a lot of things (I.e. blogging) that might not directly have anything to do with writing fiction…but it trains us to 1) meet self-imposed deadlines 2) build an audience with our writing voice 3) hook early 4) ENDURE.
I blogged for almost two years before I passed 50 hits a day. I blogged even when it felt like no one was listening, because I viewed it as part of my author training. Even if no one EVER listened, I was a better, faster, cleaner, more disciplined writer and I was investing in the long-term.
New Writers are Vulnerable
A boxer who’s been in the game for ten years, has a wall of title belts, has already been through the fire and gotten outside validation? It’s easier for that guy to jump in the ring. There’s a psychological advantage this guy earned with blood, time and pain.
For the newbies? Everyone thinks we’re nuts. They forget that even that title champ was a once a green pea tripping over the jump rope, too.
Becoming a writer is easy. Staying a writer is another matter entirely.
The beginning is a delicate time. It’s easy to get discouraged, but remember this:
Every NYTBSA, every Pulitzer-winner, every literary legend was once just an unpaid amateur with a dream, too.
Learn to keep going no matter what, and you cannot imagine the edge you’ll have in this profession (ANY profession).
Keep training. Keep blogging. Keep writing books, even bad books. Keep reading. Keep studying. Learn from everyone you can. It’s how we grow. How we learn. We can’t learn from the sidelines. We need to get into the fray even when we know it’s going to hurt because that’s what gives us staying power. And, as the great coach Vince Lombardi said, Quitters never win and winners never quit ;).
Have you dealt with nasty people who tried to undermine your dream? What activities do you use to train as a writer-artist? What area do you need help? Where do you feel you’re weak? What’s your plan for strengthening that area? What activities do you think might help writers with endurance training?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!