You need to approach writing the same way you approach the other passions in you life.
March 16, 2013
I’m a league bowler and have been for over 35 years. I’ve participated in sports of all kinds, but bowling is the one sport where I can still use my body, my legs, my arms, and yes, my brain. Each week, the lanes change, the oil is in a different pattern, and the humidity in the air plays a big role in how your ball reacts. You have to learn where to stand, what arrow to roll over, how much strength to use on each shot, how much spin to put on the ball. Splits—well, that’s a whole different animal. There is technique in picking up each different combination of splits.
And when you roll a strike? OMG! The way it makes you feel to hear the sound. Every bowler knows what I am talking about. It’s a sound like no other. I can only compare it to the crack of the bat when a player hits a homerun in baseball. It’s ‘that’ sound. I’m proud to tell you at my age I carry a 155 average. Pretty good when you consider the aches and pains I’ve come to enjoy at this time of my life. I’m no stranger to the 200 games either. My patches are proudly on display.
Okay, so you want to know how I relate bowling to my writing. Through the course of my life, I’ve discovered I address each endeavor in my life the same way. It’s a pattern developed over time. It defines me. One day standing at the approach line during league time, ball in hand, it hit me. I ‘set up’ the same way every time I line up a shot. After years of learning the sport, I know exactly where to stand to get started. It’s much like writing when you are learning your craft.
In bowling, you have the instrument you need to knock all ten pins down at one time, the ball. You begin at the starting line and aim for a strike.
In writing, you have your instrument, as well, whether it’s a pencil, pen, or keyboard. You begin on page one and aim for a perfect story.
If you don’t have the right spin on the ball, if you miss your arrow, or you don’t line up correctly, you’re going to leave pins, even a dreaded split. This means you wait for the ball to return and try to clean up the mess you made with the second shot.
Writing is like that in a way, too. If you don’t line up your story, if you don’t begin in the proper place, or if you can’t tie the story together, you leave gaps. You have to take another run at it. Yes, the dreaded revisions.
In bowling, the speed in which you release the ball determines how the pins will react. Too slow, only a few pins will interact. Too fast, you risk blowing right through and leaving a huge gap.
In writing, pace is key. If you move too slowly, readers will not react and leave before they get to the meat of the story. Too fast, you risk confusing the reader; they have to go back and figure out what is going on. Correct pacing keeps the reader engaged.
How much spin do you put on the ball? The goal is the pocket. Your wrist action determines if you will arrive at the goal. If you have too much, well, you miss. Too little, miss again.
In writing you put subplots into play. Here again, too many and you baffle the reader. Too little and you bore him.
I realize I approach writing the same way I approach my hobbies, or anything I set out to do, the same way. Discipline, trial and error, listen to the pros, develop my strengths, work on my weaknesses. Bowling has taught me to find out what works, stick with the plan, and build on it. I’m always looking for the next big strike and the next great novel!
Learn from your hobbies.
Patty Wiseman is author of An Unlikely Beginning. Please click the book cover to learn more about the novel on Amazon. Patty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and www.pattywiseman.net