7 ways Football helps (me) avoid Writer’s Block

The Super Bowl is hours away, and although my beloved Atlanta Falcons aren’t in it (despite coming pretty close, after a FANTASTIC season), I can’t wait to watch le match (and, of course, les publicités – the ads). I haven’t decided whether I want the Ravens or the 49ers to win, and I’m sure both teams have been working very hard – physically and mentally – to prepare. I was also working hard – mentally – last week, adding over 3,000 words (about 12 pages), to my work-in-progress, a Suspense novel.

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Writing a novel is nothing like playing football, but there are certain parallels. For example, as a writer, there are times when you might get stuck  not know what to write next  wonder if you should just toss the whole thing out  experience writer’s block. In football, I imagine, there are times when you aren’t sure what to do next  can’t get into the end zone  want to give up  are so far behind, coming back seems impossible.

I started to understand love the game of football about the same time I started writing my Romance novel, MAKE THAT DEUX. Though sometimes I’ve struggled to keep going as a writer, I don’t believe in writer’s block. At least, I try my best to avoid it. I think what I’ve learned about football has helped.

But before I tell you why, a (necessary) backstory. About a week ago, my husband and I were guests at a “hands-on” dinner party: The kind where each couple has gets to help with the cooking. As the evening began, five couples sat at the table drinking wine while Professional Chef Rosemary described the recipes and the process ahead. Each couple would choose a dish to prepare, and with the help of an assistant chef (and pre-measured ingredients), create a contribution to the meal.

Mon mari, being a wonderful cook and très intelligent, listened carefully. When the signal was given, he bolted over to the dessert station, pulling me along with whispered assurances that it would be the easiest dish. He also explained that it had the extra benefit of allowing the two of us time to relax and have another glass of vin while our his creation*  was in the oven.

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Initially, I helped hovered stressfully around him, and soon our assistant realized it was him that she would be teaching  guiding standing by to watch. As they were discussing the pros and cons of metal versus plastic lemon juicers (she liked plastic), I slipped away. Relieved of duty, I hung out closeby, talking to the other husbands as their wives stirred and sautéed.

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The metal lemon juicer we have à la maison

We talked a little about football, and then one of the men told the others I was an author and had published a novel. We chatted about my book and then about the one I’m currently working on. When dinner was ready, we all sat down together to a delicious meal.

Afterward, I was asked to speak to the group for a few minutes about writing and answer some questions. One person said he would like to write a book too, and asked me how I overcome writer’s block. I said that if when I come to a point where I can’t continue a project, I work on something else: research, a blog post, marketing MAKE THAT DEUX, or just rereading (and revising) what I’ve written. Then, after a time (hopefully short), I know exactly what comes next in my novel.

Which brings me to football, and my list of ways that it helps me avoid writer’s block:

1. The objective is to advance the ball (or story). Sometimes you don’t get it very far, but if you can just keep making first downs, you’ll get there – and you don’t have to make a first down on every play. But if you give up, or if you’re three-and-out, you’ll have to punt. Not fun.

2. If you’re confused, take a time-out. Then get your head together and come back with a plan.

3. Be open to changing your strategy. Be flexible. What you thought would work may not. If something you’re doing doesn’t help advance the  ball  story, change it. There’s no reason to hold on to a plan that won’t work.

4. You have to work hard, and you can’t let up. You have to work at it, every day (and every play). Well, almost every day. You need some rest days.

5. Be ready to take advantage of opportunities. The unanticipated can happen. When it does, you have to be ready. If you work hard (see #4), you will be.

6. Be patient. Serendipity will find you. Sometimes you get an unexpected break. If you fumble, pick yourself up and keep trying.

7. Never lose sight of the goal. You want to succeed, no matter what is thrown at you (or away from you). Keep working, and it will happen. “Never, never, never give up!”

Go Falcons!

* “Gingerbread with Lemon Curd Cream” – it tasted much better than it sounds!

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