The Secret Dreamworld of an Aspiring Writer by Anna Bell - Going For Gold
For the last two weeks I’ve been glued to the Olympics. I was constantly on Gold Watch via my phone or laptop or TV. Whilst the pundits are talking about the legacy of 2012, it got me thinking about what it meant for me and how I think I’m like an aspiring athlete.
Now, before you get the wrong idea I’m not going to learn a sport in time to be able to compete at Rio. Although I was tempted by the modern pentathlon until I realised I couldn’t fence, shoot or ride horses. But I’m talking about the similarities between what it takes to become a successful athlete and what it takes to be a successful writer.
I think writing to get published is a lot like training for the Olympics. There is an extraordinary amount of work that needs to go on behind the scenes at the outset. All of that dedication and hard work! The writing, the edits, the rewrites. All the work that people don’t see when they read the finished product. Just like when we watch Usain Bolt sprint in the nine seconds he runs for, we don’t think of the grueling training schedule he’s been under.
There are sacrifices that have to be made. Like an athlete focused on a goal, writers, too, have to be selfish. Finding the time to dedicate to a work in progress often means foregoing other things that you might want to do with your time. I’ve lost track of the trips to the pub I’ve had to cut short to get back to write, or the times I’ve turned down social engagements for writing.
Writers and athletes need to have the same self-belief. Athletes have to fully believe that they are good enough or capable enough to get to a level where they ready to be considered to become an olympian. Writers need to have this self belief - especially self published writers who, without the backing of a traditional publisher, need confidence in their work in order to finish it.
I got totally caught up in Team GB. Especially the twitter feed. It was especially great seeing tweets from different members of Team GB congratulating and commiserating with each other. And whenever I saw a medal winner being interviewed they always siad that seeing the other successes of Team GB spurred them on.
Although writing can be very solitary, the online writing community is a great support network. Like the Team GB athletes, whenever I hear of a fellow aspiring author getting a publishing deal or an agent, it spurs me on a bit. It makes me remember that those opportunities ARE out there and it does make me work harder to get it.
So, maybe the Olympics hasn’t inspired me to do more sport (she says, looking at the tub of chocolate crispy cakes beside her). But what it has done is inspired me to reach my potential. To write to the best of my ability. To push myself to my absolute limits. To keep on making the sacrifices and to continue believing in myself. And one day I might get the writer’s version of an Olympic medal, my book on an actual book shelf.