Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12: 1-3, NLT)
1. Passion breeds discipline. Face it, it takes a long time to become one of the fastest swimmers in the world. It also takes time to learn writing techniques and write a complete novel. It can be depressing to think about how far from perfect that first novel will be. Without passion for the sport of writing, we'd give up our training in a week or two, but hang in there. Anything worth achieving is worth working for.
2. Visualize. Whether visualizing a gold medal sliding over your head to the strains of "Oh, Canada!" or visualizing a paperback with your name on it, there is something powerful about invoking our imagination. While I'm not preaching a 'name it and claim it' doctrine, we are far more likely to achieve goals we can articulate and visualize than those that are some vague dream of success, whatever that entails.
3. Find a coach or mentor. As athletes spend many hours practicing in solitude, so do writers, but without a coach, it's difficult to know where you need work and what you can do to improve. For writers, this coaching might come from a variety of sources, like a critique group or an online writers' community. An athlete hires one coach, then follows that one person's advice in all areas. As writers, it's useful to choose one primary mentor who's successfully played the game before us rather than taking advice from dozens of wannabes.
4. Take care of yourself, body and soul. Just because we're not competing as gymnasts or cyclists doesn't mean we should be couch potatoes. We need to honor the body that God gave us, fueling it appropriately and taking it out for exercise. In the same way, we need to develop our spiritual muscles. How can we write Truth that will touch readers if we aren't in touch with God ourselves? We need to feed on His word and exercise our spiritual muscles
5. Remember who you're playing for. Athletes from around the world are wearing specially designed uniforms this week, making it obvious what country they represent. The flags of their homelands fly high, and the national anthems are ready to be played at a moment's notice. As writers who are believers, remember that the world is watching you, too. You wear the cloak of Christianity, and there are standards to uphold!
6. Celebrate! While gold medals are the highest standard in the Olympics, you'll find many non-medaling athletes celebrating, too. Many are simply thrilled to perform for their country. Others are striving for their personal best. Others are overcoming hardship of some kind, and finishing the race at all is a huge achievement. Whatever the results for you as a writer, remember that you are blessed by God. Celebrate wherever you find yourself as you follow your calling to write for Him.
There are many other facets of the writing career that parallel professional sports, but these six stood out to me as I contemplated this blog post. What other lessons do you feel we can learn from Olympic athletes?
Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She has been called “a stellar storyteller” as she injects experience laced with humor into her green clean romances. Visit her at ValerieComer.com.