The whole world will be watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this year. Olympic athletes are inspirational: They amaze us with their incredible accomplishments and dedication. As creative writers, we can learn a lot from these motivated, goal-oriented achievers.
Writers and Olympians have a lot in common. Both must persevere to make it to the top. If you’re hoping to raise your craft to the highest level, you should try to approach your aspirations in the same way that Olympic athletes approach theirs!
So what do Olympians do when the going gets tough? Let’s consider some inspirational tips offered by the women of the summer Olympics (while we’re watching it snow in Sochi!).
Six Lessons Olympic Athletes Can Teach Creative Writers
Get back up again. When Olympic athletes fail, they don’t look at failure as the end of the line. They see it as a springboard that can bring them closer to success. As a writer, you may get rejection letters—but you don’t have to let them defeat you. Two-time Olympic kayaker Carrie Johnson says: Falling in life is inevitable—staying down is optional.
Mind over matter. Writers do a lot of work with their brains. And, of course, you can only push your brain so far before it gets tired. However, there are things you can do to treat your body well and feed your brain that will make it easier for you to manage long marathons of heavy thinking.
Believing in yourself and your ability to “power through” the tough times is key if you’re in it for the long haul. Hurdles champion Kelly Wells says: When I’m tired at practice, I tell myself that I’m not tired, and I can push through. If you tell yourself you’re tired or if you tell yourself you’re sick, your body is going to follow the mind.
Do it for a reason. When you can’t find the strength to persevere for your own sake, look elsewhere for motivation. Do you want to become a successful writer to show your children how to overcome impossible odds? Are you writing because your mother dreamed of writing too—but never did?
When you can’t find motivation inside, look outside. Misty May-Treanor, a volleyball gold medalist, says: My dad would tell me to ‘Play for those who couldn’t play.’ So my motivation is for people who struggle in life daily.
Remember why you love it. In the face of demoralizing rejection letters and impossible odds, it can be hard to remember why you love writing. So when you’re feeling discouraged, reread a book by your favorite author. Visit the library and remember how words can inspire you. FINA World Champion Miss Franklin reminds us: It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
Use a mantra. If you have not yet discovered the power of using writing mantras, start now: Affirmations For Creative Writers. Marathoner Deena Kastor says: I think it’s important to keep mantras fresh (sometimes the same verse can get stale). That being said, I love this powerful statement: ‘Define yourself.’
Tough it out. Writing gets hard. It absolutely does. You will hit long stretches when you don’t want to sit down and write. There will be times when you feel like no one understands you or cares about your work. But Jessica Long, nine-time Paralympic swimming medalist, puts it succinctly: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
*Original quotations from these athletes can be found here: Women’s Health.
Photo by MegMoggington