Writing Lessons From Superbowl LI

In the wake of the most disappointing sporting event I’ve ever watched, I realized some parallels between the great sport of football and writing. And I’m finally emotionally stable enough to write this. Relatively speaking, of course. I’m not going to tell you I’m ever purely stable. But then again, where’s the fun in that? It’s about as much fun as breaking multiple records, and not in a good way. But more on that another time.

  • You have to play all four quarters. Not pointing the finger at anyone, there. For some people the first quarter is the hard part. But once you get your momentum built, it isn’t nearly as bad as it once seemed. Getting started is half of the issue. Some people have issues with the ending. Again. No name-calling here. But most people in various endeavors suffer from this sort of sagging middle section of their creation. Your energy gets low. This or that isn’t working, be it your special teams or your plot devices and characterization. Something’s got to give. And sometimes that something is hard to get past. But you do it anyway. Even if you don’t always know what it is.
  • Sometimes inexperience shows. But it’s also important to never feel too experienced. Doing the same thing over and over again is safe. But it won’t get you anywhere in your life. In your sport. Or in your writing. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, eventually it’s going to get so stale that you’re going to resent it, in a sense. You don’t ever want to do this. Like ever. So that’s when you bring in the energy. The young blood, so to speak. Even if you aren’t young blood yourself. That doesn’t matter. Try something new. Something fresh. Something that hasn’t been tested out properly before. Or at least not by you. And keep doing that. Until you die. And you’re going to fucking like it. Most of the time. And even when you don’t, the sheer exuberance is enough to carry you through. Even when you’ve been working too hard and you need some relief. It’ll happen.
  • Sometimes you’re going to get hit. Hard. Like really hard. This could come from anywhere. It could come from everywhere. But the key is to not let things like writer’s block or rejection, or any other external bullshit keep you from getting back up and being as strong as you and I both know you can be. The hits can come from criticism. They can be more literal than that in the forms of rejections slips and emails and the such. But that has nothing to do with anything at all, as long as you keep getting back up. And you will keep getting back up. No matter how many times you think you won’t. And worst of all, most of the time these blows come when you think you’re on top of the world. But maybe that’s the case because that’s when you need them the most. Your very own Roman slave whispering in your ear that you’re only human. We all need that sometimes.
  • You win some and lose some. Just like some projects you write are going to be masterworks and some are going to be horrendous. And often the things you think are going to be great turn out to be abominations to the name of football and the city of Atlanta. Ahem. Or to your own writing ability. It’s all getting a little fuzzy at this point, honestly. But the point is that no amount of losing can ever take away how good it feels to win. And that’s the importance of playing a full season. If writing is what’s for you, then you can’t step off the gas. No matter what the L’s and W’s are telling you. And sometimes who you are matters. It just does. That’s the importance of a following. Of a platform. It helps to know people. Whether it’s an editor or a ref. I’ll step off my soapbox now, I promise. That was the very last one.

Now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to binge writing and pretending there wasn’t a Superbowl between L and LII. Because it’s easier for me that way. I was always shit at Roman numerals anyway.


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