Post 58

Author: Nola Published: over 2 years ago
Tags: Wimbledon, tennis, practice, online, adaptability, persistence Category: Writing tips

Five Things Wimbledon Can Teach You About Writing

If you’re feeling guilty because you stayed up all night watching Wimbledon instead of working on your novel, fret no more. All that ‘tele tennis’ can actually help with your writing. Here’s how.

1. Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

Top players like Andy Murray and Serena Williams make the shots look easy. Powerful serves, effortless backhands, precision volleys. If only I had their talent! However, they didn’t master those winning strokes overnight. They practised each one thousands of times before stepping out on Centre Court. If we applied the same discipline to our writing, readers would marvel at our powerful metaphors, effortless dialogue and precision plotting. It’s especially important to practise in your weaker areas. Study the craft, do writing exercises, seek feedback and practise, practise, practise until your words sizzle on the page.

2. The Follow-Through is Key

In tennis, you don’t stop your swing as soon as the racquet makes contact with the ball. You have to follow through to add power and keep the momentum going. ‘Following through’ is just as important in writing. Have you heard or read some great writing tips? Then apply them to your manuscript in order to cement your learning. Did you promise yourself you’d write more this week? Month? Year? Then do what it takes to fulfil that promise. If you’d like to read more about following through, please see the longer post I’ve written for Christian Writers Downunder.

3. Bad On-Court (Online) Behaviour Comes Back to Bite

There are a lot of wonderful players who show sportsmanship on and off the court—Evonne Cawley, Roger Federer and Pat Rafter to name a few. However, we’ve also seen the dummy spits. Not only does bad behaviour alienate the player from the public, but it can result in fines and loss of endorsements. Writers can also lose the good will of the writing fraternity through uncharitable behaviour (e.g. ranting about publishers who’ve rejected their work; debating with readers who’ve given unfavourable reviews; joining online writing communities purely to market their own books without giving back). In the writing world, as in other spheres, we’d be wise to ‘do unto others as we’d have them do unto us’.

4. No Adaptability, No Grand Slam

In order to win a calendar year Grand Slam in tennis, you have to win Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open, and the United States Open in the same year. In singles, this feat has only been accomplished by two men (Don Budge and Rod Laver) and three women (Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf). One reason it’s so difficult is that the tournaments are played on different surfaces: grass for Wimbledon, clay for the French Open, and hard courts for the Australian and US Opens. If players can’t adapt to different surfaces, they won’t win all four events. While you don’t have to ‘win’ at all types of writing, you can increase your opportunities for success by learning to write across various styles and genres. Different types of writing also cross-pollinate. Penning poetry can help you develop fresh imagery in your fiction; writing fiction can help you add more creativity to your nonfiction pieces. Why not experiment with those different surfaces? You might be surprised at the results.

5. It’s Not All Strawberries and Cream

Did you know that 28 000 kg of strawberries and 10 000 litres of cream are used during Wimbledon? Well, some of that cream probably goes on the scones, but that still leaves a lot of strawberries and cream to tempt the taste buds. Tennis isn’t just about those delectable moments. It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to succeed. The same is true of writing. We’d all like to be the person who wrote their debut novel in a few weeks and then sat back as it climbed the bestseller lists. However, ‘overnight’ success occurs when we buckle down and write through the hard times as well as the good. Some days, writing is pure joy. Other days, you want to kill your protagonist for creating so many plot problems for you. Hang in there and it won’t be long before the strawberries and cream are tantalising your writerly taste buds again.

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