What Nadal Can Teach Us About Writing

My husband Gregor and I have lots of mutual interests. One of them is Rafael Nadal. Our love for Nadal is deep and enduring. His sportsmanship. The deep wrinkles around his eyes when he smiles. His mousey features. His modest acceptance speeches. His fire and persistence. The compassion he showed to Feddie in 2009, when Feddie shed tears of frustration and exhaustion. I don’t love watching sport generally, but I love Nadal.

But what can Nadal teach us about writing, you ask?

Random segue. My husband and I were talking about writing today. I was complaining about my latent muse. My tired creativity. My lack of stories. And my frustration at myself for not having created anything new I am proud of. I should be doing more, I berated myself.

Part of this block comes from putting too much pressure on myself. I do this, frequently. I want to write a good book, a great story, and it stops me from writing anything. I am looking at the end goal, instead of focussing on what I need to do to get there. The chip-chipping away.

And here’s what Nadal can teach me about writing, or anything creative for that matter.

Sure, he goes into a tennis match hoping to win. But he doesn’t necessarily expect it. His focus is on giving himself the best opportunity to win. To do everything within his capability to win the grand slam – doing the right amount of practice, eating the right amount of calories, getting just the right amount of sleep, getting himself in the right frame of mind, and of course playing the very best game he can. He pays attention to every ball, as it comes. A point is lost. Move on. Stay focussed on the task at hand. But don’t get overwhelmed by the end goal.

All you can do is to create the right circumstances to win the match.

I hope I write more good stories I’m proud of. But I can’t be intimidated by them. I have to focus on the task at hand. Opening the notebook. Jotting down ideas. Knowing that a rough draft is a first draft, and more work will be required. Knowing that just because I’m satisfied with a story, there will always be a new perspective an editor or illustrator can bring.

All you can do is to create the right circumstances to write the story.

So, Nadal, I know you didn’t intend to inspire my writing, but you have. So for that, and everything else you do in life, I thank you.

Do you get intimidated by the end goal too?

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  • Artelle Lenthall

    April 23, 2017 at 10:36 am Reply

    All the time! I am trying to recall the fact that I actually love to write and have fun again. When I do remember I almost al5come up with something good. Then I have to get over my next hurdle, fear of submission. Not sure if I’m more frightened of rejection or acceptance!?!

    • zanni

      April 23, 2017 at 11:29 pm Reply

      Both are equally fraught, I agree! Fear of submission must be very common in the writing world. 🙂

  • Shauna

    April 24, 2017 at 10:05 am Reply

    I hadn’t looked at it that way but you are dead right. I set the bar way too high for myself when I sit down to write and wind up feeling intimated & choke! And it’s all my own doing! Thanks so much for this perspective. I will try to approach things with this in mind and see how I go! Thank you. ?

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