Monday, June 12, 2017

Writing & Hockey - 5 Things They Have in Common



"You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Wayne Gretzky



Most of you know that I like hockey. My sons played ice and roller hockey in their teens, so I got hooked while doing the hockey mom thing. Was thinking recently how the game is similar to the writer's life, and since The Stanley Cup Finals just concluded, I thought it a good time to explore the similarities. 


1) Practice is Imperative

If a hockey player doesn't practice, he/she won't improve. No getting around that fact. Skating, shooting, scoring, and learning the rules of the game elevate their skills and level of play. The same applies to writers. If we don't make time to write, edit, revise, learn new things and polish our skills, we'll never communicate as effectively as we might have, had we invested practice time.

2) It's a Team Effort

A lone hockey player has never won The Stanley Cup on his own. It takes a talented group of players working together to achieve this coveted goal. Likewise, although writing is a solitary activity, dedicated scribes need support and input from fellow writers, teachers, editors, and others in the industry.

3) Taking a Shot Can be a Good Thing

When my husband coached our sons' hockey team, he'd often tell the players to "pick up the trash around the net". He wanted them to be alert - a loose puck was an opportunity to score. As writers, are we mindful of the opportunities around us? Or do we allow fear, procrastination, or other obstacles to keep us from expanding our horizons? We gain nothing when we don't take a shot on occasion. Wayne Gretzky's words come from years of experience. He's one of the greatest scorers of all time.

4) The Fans 

A hockey player once told me how important supportive fans are. He cited an instance where his team faced elimination in the playoffs, and cheering fans spurred them to rally and win. Even better - they went on to win the series' championship. Writers' fans, of course, are readers. While many writers would still write even if they didn't have an audience, readers can play an important role. They motivate us to educate, inform, meet a need, entertain, or fill a niche. Readers also can provide valuable feedback - whether positive, negative, or simply constructive. The satisfaction of a job well done, our success in writing something worth reading, this is what our fans offer us.
 
5) Eyes on the Goal

No matter the obstacles, whether it's defensemen hindering the offensive line, or a goalie blocking shots, a hockey player's ultimate goal is to score and win. A writer faces similar obstacles, from undeveloped skills or well meaning family (When will you quit writing and get a real job?) to rejections and bad reviews. Dedicated writers need realistic and attainable goals in order to move forward and succeed.


Even if you're not a hockey fan, these similarities can teach us to persevere, grow, and push forward. The writer's life is a journey. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And one worth investing the time and energy to reap great results.

What do you think? Do you agree with Mr. Gretzky? Are you a sports fan? 

I'm taking a break until June 26. See you soon!

Happy writing,
Karen

Monday, June 5, 2017

More Timeless Writing Advice



You'll notice a theme on timeless writing advice these last few weeks (see May 22nd's post here)...I hope you don't mind. Figured you can't go wrong with this topic, right? :) 

About 10 years ago, I asked Brian Ianieri, staff reporter from The Press of Atlantic City (in New Jersey) what advice he'd share with my teen writing students. Upon reviewing it recently, I was reminded of how it applies to writers of all ages and stages. This was his reply:

 "From my standpoint, the key to writing is rewriting.

Our first drafts are never perfect.

We often use too many words.

This is referred to as “dead wood.”

Chopping those words and using precise terms clarifies writing.

The rewriting stage offers the best opportunity for this.

Often, we view rewriting as a quick check for spelling mistakes.

Devote time to this process, and it becomes a much more important tool for writers—even for reporters on strict (and I mean strict) deadlines.

I suggest “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White. It’s a thin, easy-to-read book that provides practical advice for sharp writing.

My only other advice is – tell your students to have fun." 


Do you agree with Brian? What advice would you offer my teen writing students? What's the best writing advice you've ever received?

Happy writing,

Karen 


Photo credit: Free Images