I took a break from blog posts to finish another writing project. A fantasy novel!
Attempting a full book was daunting, especially with a one-year-old in the house. But I knew I could do it if I carved out enough time and stayed consistent (and ignored my kid sometimes). Between volleyball and coaching and chasing Ketch around the house…or the park…or the neighborhood, I’d find time to write
every day most days.
I became a morning person. I woke up and tip-toed to the living room to get an hour or so of writing in before the little monster woke up and started slamming my laptop shut.
And it worked! Almost a year later those stolen minutes add up to a 116,000-word novel. Written twice! (If I was a better writer who got it right the first time I could have written two books in that time).
Here are some ways writing is similar to volleyball:
-It’s a Craft. Just like you don’t show up to a tourney and dominate, you don’t just scribble out a masterpiece. It takes work and practice and time. And like pro beach volleyball, there was no coach scheduling my writing time. I had to be self-disciplined and grind it out, even on the days I was tired and couldn’t
-Focus on the Small. The Olympics feels a long way off and insurmountable. Giving your all in today’s practice is doable. A 116,000-word novel is intimidating. 500 words this morning is doable.
-Build Stamina. To start I could only do so much at a time before my brain got sore. You build your writing muscles by writing consistently and pushing yourself.
-Find a Partner. My friend Kyle was starting a book at the same time. We formed a virtual writing group, meeting once a week on Google Hangouts to critique chapters and talk through problems. A workout partner is great for accountability and motivation.
-Embrace the Process. I couldn’t even hit over the net the first time I picked up a volleyball (I was also two years old). I didn’t expect to write an amazing book my first time either. I embraced the process. Work hard, learn a lot and the next one will be better. But the only way to get to the second book is through this one. Even if you have to crawl in the dark.
“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” – Kurt Vonnegut
-Listen to Feedback. A big thing I still need to learn is how to detach myself from the work. I remember watching game video with our coach in college, hoping he focused on the plays I did well and fast-forwarded through the bad stuff. To this day, I still cringe watching my mistakes.
I also struggle with showing my writing. If someone reads my book they will naturally compare it to other books they’ve read. It is definitely not The Grapes of Wrath. “You wasted a year of your life on this?” they’ll say. “Think of all the Netflix series you could have gone through!”
I am not my book just as I am not my hitting percentage. If I look at it objectively I will welcome feedback and watch those mistakes over and over so I can make changes. Mistakes are only changeable if they’re acknowledged.
See? Writing is just like volleyball…and cooking and surfing and parenting and on and on. It takes commitment and embracing the process. A little every day goes a long way.
This year I wrote a book. I’m proud of that. It’s not perfect but I had to start somewhere.
My next one will be better.
Good Blood — Sold into a life of slavery, a young boy discovers he has powerful healing blood. He sets out to uncover the source of his power and stop all those who would use it for evil.