Last weekend I watched a professional tennis tournament. As a social tennis player, I was amazed at the difference between how the professionals play and how I play. I’m sure that most of the spectators who were also tennis players shared the same thought I had, “I wish I could play like that.” But then the absurdity of that thought hit me. There are several reasons I don’t play like they do, and many of those reasons could apply to writing as well. Comparing my tennis game to the pros is like comparing my writing to that of best-selling writers. And this is why:
- Professional tennis players weren’t born professional. They developed their skills over time. Writers too, don’t usually start out writing best sellers. Writing skills must be developed over time. Professional tennis players have been playing much longer than I have. Most best-selling writers have been writing much longer than I have too.
- Practice, practice, practice. Professional tennis players practice every day. They know that if they want to get better, they must practice. For the same reason, writers should write every day.
- Professional tennis players try to improve their game. They don’t just play, they try to get better at their sport. In the same way, writers need to try to improve their writing.
- Professional tennis players listen to their coaches. If a coach tells a player what they do wrong, the player tries to correct it. Writers have editors and critiquers who tell them what they do wrong, and how to correct their writing. Only by making the changes will a writer improve their writing.
- A tennis player who wants to increase their ranking must stay focused on the game and not be distracted by things going on around them. Writers, too, need to shut out the distractions so they can focus on their writing.
- Professional tennis players know their commitment means they must give up other time-consuming habits to play tennis. Writers too, must give up other things, for example, TV, that takes time away from writing.
- Tennis players sometimes lose games, but they don’t give up. Writers get rejected, but maintaining a positive attitude is essential to progress.
- Tennis can be lonely because as professionals, they often travel away from their home and family, so they bond with other tennis players. Writing too, is a lonely activity, but developing relationships with other writers builds support and camaraderie.
To be a good tennis player requires dedication to the goal. Good writing also requires staying dedicated to the goals of finishing, improving, and succeeding. If I want my writing to be as good as top writers, I must be willing to make the investment they make. If not, my writing will never get any better, and I’ll have no excuse to say, “I wish my writing was as good as …………”
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NIV