Last week, I wrote a post about what lessons Super Bowl LI can teach writers. I wrote it from the perspective of a comeback, which was the most noticeable take-away for me. I’ve quit this field before, for personal reasons, not the least of which was severe, debilitating self-doubt. But I had a comeback and have moved forward ever since.
Sure, I’m still striving to achieve my big goals, but my new outlook on my process and my writer self afforded me the opportunity to achieve other goals that I hadn’t even anticipated, thereby enriching and uplifting my experience.
All this said, the Falcons’ efforts weren’t lost on me—probably because I have been in their cleats. Many a time. Pummeled by a tough foe. Made to think hard about my shortcomings, the spaces I need to fill more efficiently. The Falcons played a helluva game and even though they left the field losing the Super Bowl, they did not leave the field as losers.
Writers, maybe struggling to achieve your big dream
is a blessing in disguise.
EMBRACE YOUR UNDERDOG
I don’t define “underdog” as someone or something of a lesser skill or ability. To me, the underdog is the one who is still undertaking a journey. Being the underdog means you have a forward vision and space and time to explore. There is so much more flexibility and creativity available to those of us who are still journeying. Once you reach your big goal, there aren’t many choices left other than to dig in and hold your ground, lest you be knocked down. So enjoy the journey while you can.
You can’t ask for a better slogan, not for an underdog football team, and not for a writer. No one has gotten anywhere by not trying, or by staying defeated. Even when you know you have no chance at success, even when you know that you’re facing something bigger and better than you, be brave. I’m sure the Falcons had to engage in some form of meditation when they realized they would be up against Tom Brady & Co.
Facing a tyrant along your journey can be intimidating enough to make you retreat. But too many repeat performances like that will only prove your inner critic right. It’s better to have played and lost than never to have played at all. As with writing, it’s better to have written and been rejected than never to have written at all. You simply have to rise up, give yourself a chance.
WRITE WITH HEART
The Falcons dominated the first three quarters. They executed play after play with precision and confidence. They had Patriots’ fans worried to the point many gave up. This is no small feat—to unravel a Patriots fan, let me tell you. We’re kind of known for our fanaticism, antagonism, and well, um, cockiness. We all thought we had this in the bag—and the Falcons played with such heart, that they showed us we are vulnerable, we aren’t that much of a superpower, and left us a little shaken. The Falcons’ fight stirred something in me that evoked a sense of familiarity.
I know what it feels like to work so hard at something, to be up at the butt-crack of dawn to stay true to my big dream, only to have that dream snuffed out again and again. Those losses, though, can never outshine my efforts, my hard work, and my determination. The Falcons will come back, dare I say, and rock the joint next season, as long as they play with the same intensity, the same heart as they did all this past season.
There is a little bit of magic all around us. Some people refer to it as luck. Others might call it positive thinking. Skeptics will refer to it as coincidence. Whatever your favorite term is, know that it is out there, accessible to you—you just have to have the courage to see it.
I see magic as a natural force in this world, but it can’t help us on its own. I think it can only function on our behalf when hard work and focus are in play. The more often magic is appreciated and used, the more present it will be in your life.
The magic was there during that Super Bowl, for both teams, seen through amazing plays, heard through the raucous crowd. Magic is there for writers, too. It shows up through inspiration, ideas, and the simple joy of the act. The more you honor that magic, the more it will rouse you on your journey.