With the baseball season in full swing and my Nationals–the consensus World Series favorites–struggling out of the gate, it dawned on me that writing novels shares a lot in common with being a major league baseball player. All right, fine. You’re right. They don’t have a lot in common. I was just saying that because I still wish I could have played pro baseball…BUT they do have at least one similarity. The similarity I speak of is the fact that like the baseball season, writing a novel is a very long process. As is true with anything that covers such a long time, it is inevitable that there will be ups, but there will also be downs. Winning streaks and losing streaks.
Currently, the Nationals are on a losing streak. They’re playing poorly, and the media talking heads (and sometimes myself) are already questioning if they’re going to get it together. But here’s the thing, at 2-6, the Nats have played less than 5% of their season. They still have 95% of the season to go! This kind of overreaction is common in sports and in writing. It’s easy to get frustrated with a page, paragraph, or even sentence that you are writing. That frustration can build and build until, before you know it, you’re in the writing equivalent of a losing streak: writer’s block.
In both cases, it takes mental strength to pull yourself out of those losing streaks. Sometimes, it can be as easy as making more of an effort to find joy in what you are writing. Sometimes, you might need to take a break or try something new like they did in Major League (if you have seen Major League, you need to watch it now!). No matter what you do, it never hurts to take a step back and remind yourself that the process–just like the baseball season–is a long one and that things will eventually turn around. Because unlike the baseball season, where we are just spectators, you can control the shift in momentum.