Today there was a fun post from a new-to-me blogger about how writing and acting as a field hockey referee have much in common.
And while I have never reffed a field hockey game, I used to play ice hockey (lo these many years ago), and recently both Small Daughter and Large Son have taken up the sport. So, in homage to GotYA’s guest blog, here is my post on how writing is like playing ice hockey:
Sometimes you need to go in hard: In writing, as in hockey, it is always best to use skill and finesse to meet (or score) your goals. But there is such a thing as being too nice. If you’re too afraid of getting yourself (or your characters) hurt, you’ll never accomplish anything. As a writer you have to put your characters in difficult, sometimes horrible, situations, and let them deal with the consequences. In hockey, you need to go in hard to the corners, even if you know you’re going to get smashed up, if you want to make the play.
But don’t play stupid. If it looks criminally dumb and dangerous, don’t do it. Similarly, if you know deep down that the airplane you have your heroine hanging out of probably couldn’t really fly so low that she can jump off and land in the convenient hay bale…well, better to stick to a modicum of reality.
Don’t be put off by others’ preconceived notions: Say hockey player and there’s a stereotype of a toothless, mullet-headed thug. Visions of Slapshot might dance in your head. Say writer, and an image of a flaky artist, surrounded by half-finished manuscripts and endless cups of coffee, might pop up. Sure, some people live up to the stereotype, but I know climate scientists, nonprofit presidents, stay-at-home moms, and accountants who play a mean game of hockey. And most writers these days are also working as lawyers, as teachers, as anything and everything to support their writing habit.
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Several times this weekend, during a hockey game that his team lost by double digits, I watched my son fight through the thicket of opposing players on a breakaway. We were all on our feet, cheering, as he moved down the ice. But when he looked up, the defense was closing in and there was no one open to pass to. He got boxed in, missed the shot, and the score remained dismal. The point? Hockey is a team sport – without someone to pass to there is no winning, period. Writing is not, or is it? Most good books become great books during the revision stage. Trust your beta readers, listen to the feedback, try hard to be gracious.
Celebrate. Even if the score is 11-1, even if the best thing that happened is that you lose by less, but you’ve improved, there is something to celebrate. And when the big win comes…look out! In writing, you need to celebrate milestones. Hit 50k words? Time to celebrate. Got a first draft off to your critique group? Celebrate again! Got 10 rejections from agents but three of them wrote really nice personal notes…yep, time to break out the Veuve Cliquot again. Celebrations keep us all going for the gold.