Writing and Wimbledon: 4 tips from tennis

For the non-British readers out there who may not be as obsessed with Wimbledon as the majority of my country, Wimbledon is a tennis tournament and it’s a pretty big deal over here. Which is why when Andy Murray, a Scottish player, won Wimbledon earlier today and became the first Brit to have done so in over 70 years, it was also a pretty big deal. OK it was a massive deal. I had tears in my eyes. Happy tears, unlike last year when he lost to Federa and he made that devastating speech which reduced me to full-on crying. But enough! I think you get the background now. Andy won. It’s a big deal. Let’s move on to what writers (and perhaps everyone) can learn from today’s amazing match.

1) Training
The match was physically gruelling. Lots of long rallies, dashing all over the court, long points, long games, all in the burning sun (I read somewhere it was as hot as 40 C – 104 F). If Andy hadn’t trained really hard to get his physical fitness as it was, he wouldn’t have stood a chance. Writing is mentally gruelling and you can’t pull out a decent novel just like that. You need to put in the hours first. You need to train.

2) Team
Andy was alone out there. How he played was up to him but he had a great team who helped him get where he was and supported him all the way. From the background provided above, you can imagine the level of support he got from the crowd. As writers, most of the work is done alone. How you write is up to you but you need a good team behind you. You need feedback and criticism and you need support. Someone to cheer you on and talk you through the hard parts. You need a team.

3) Tenacity
What really struck me about today’s match was the tenacity of both players. How even when Murray was 40 – 0 on the championship point, Djokovic just would not give up. Throughout the game, the mental upper-hand – who seemed more confident and in control – switched so many times as each player fought back against their mental demons and refused to give up. This is particularly meaningful during Camp NaNoWriMo. It teaches that even if you seem to have lost and it seems completely pointless carrying on, you shouldn’t giver up. At the least you can go down fighting. And even if you don’t win, you’ll have achieved more than if you had stopped part-way through. The only way to lose NaNoWriMo, in my opinion, is to be a quitter. If you keep persevering, right to the end, surely that makes you a winner. So be tenacious.

4) Talent is Not Enough
I would argue that with writing, talent is largely irrelevant, but you need to be talented at tennis to get as far as both of the men’s finalists did. That said, it doesn’t matter how talented they are: if they hadn’t sacrificed what they have and trained as hard as they did and had a good team and persevered, they wouldn’t have got where they are today. Talent alone is not enough. And with writing, it really is more about the other stuff – not giving up being the most important of all. So if you think you’re not talented, as long as you don’t let that stop you, it makes no difference. You’ll improve with training and the support of your team, and if you’re tenacious enough to never give up, you’ll get there. I mean, look at Dan Brown, he’s a shit writer but he doesn’t let that stop him becoming a best-seller, so why should you?

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