“You gotta be willing to fail… if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.” Steve Jobs
“There is no such thing as failure — failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” –Oprah Winfrey
Did you enjoy the US Open? I r did (although I was really sad that Serena and Rogelost!!) Do you love a champion? Or are you all about the underdog? Were you sitting on the edge of your seat when Donald Young came from two sets down? When Vinci beat Serena?
As I watched, I couldn’t help thinking about how tennis was like writing. I imagined what it was like to be alone in the middle of Arthur Ashe Stadium. I thought about the pressure to succeed, how whether I was up or down, the need to do my best would be high.
I listened to the crowd cheer their favorites, especially Young, when he was down two sets. Everyone LOVES an underdog, a comeback performance. In some ways, the player/performer who “rises from the ashes” is the quintessential American hero. We love a person who makes the most of her second chance.
So, essentially, we like people who have failed. At least once. We admire people who climb their way to the top…from the bottom.
I don’t need to tell you that failure is something every writer learns about at one point or another. There is no avoiding it. Ideas that seem fantastic seem banal on the page. Manuscripts get rejected. Books get bad reviews.
The archetype demands that we keep pushing, keep working, find the momentum and SOAR. We have to go for it!
So is that all there is? Is tennis just an excuse to talk about failure?
Not at all.
As I watched the matches, I saw something else: the players that risked the most, won the most, too. The players that skid and slid and fell and TOOK CHANCES were also the ones hitting winners. Do you remember watching tennis before every player grunted? I do. Do you remember when we didn’t think that was appropriate?
I LOVE the effort on display in tennis. I love watching the athletes all alone on the stage. I am inspired by their effort.
As Arthur Ashe said: Success is a journey, not a destination.
As writers, of course, we get this journey idea. We know we must all take chances. We must trust that those chances and risks might pan out, even when, at the same time, we can be pretty sure that many of them won’t. The problem is: we can’t know unless we try. An idea not put to paper is just an idea. Once we get writing, maybe…just maybe….we will succeed.
Are you ready to hit some aces????
Let’s take another lesson from Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
This week, commit to getting up and first thing…before coffee or conversation or any social media;….take out a pencil and paper and WRITE. Don’t think. Don’t worry about logic. Think of this like Serena’s tennis warm-up. Or Donald Young’s comeback. Show up. Start hitting balls. Get some lines on the paper without worry of failure or product.
When you are done, you will have given yourself a running start to your day. You will have some momentum. It is so much easier to take risks when it is just practice…or for fun.
Have a great writing week!