Different people have different guilty pleasures. Some binge watch their favorite show on Netflix. Some find a new favorite computer game and play for hours. Here’s my admission: I love watching professional tennis. The commentary, the athletic feats, the players’ different characteristics. There’s something about a good tennis match that has me sitting on the edge of my seat, watching the action, listening to the announcer’s commentary. This year’s Wimbledon was beyond extraordinary, especially the level of the men’s semifinals with phenomenal efforts from Novak Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Rafael Nadal, and John Isner. Over the two-week period of the tournament, heartwarming stories of comebacks and struggles stayed with me as I watched while I ate breakfast, folded laundry, and more. As a writer, I listened to post-match interviews and I also read quotes from players. As a write-at-home mom, I drew inspiration from Serena Williams’ road to the finals and her interviews about being a tennis player and mother. Tennis and romance writing have much more in common than only the word love. Here are some writing tips based on quotes from tennis players at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships.
“I’d fight a bear for you. Not a grizzly bear. Or a brown bear. Or a panda bear. But maybe like a Care Bear. Yeah, I’d fight one of those.” Bethanie Mattek-Sands, talking about her doubles’ partner, Lucie Safarova.
A little tongue-in-cheek, but nevertheless a great quote that can easily refer to the importance of a great critique partner, accountability partner, or support group. Many writers tend to be introverts; I myself am an introvert, but I would fight a bear for my critique partner. Okay, like Bethanie Mattek-Sands, I’d also qualify my bear opponent to be a Care Bear, but I totally get this quote. My critique partner has read my work. She reminds me when I need to add emotion, but she also inserts smiley faces. For me, a support system of writers who encourage me is essential. Once you find people who are with you on your writing journey, it becomes a little easier to sit down and write.
“After each win throughout these ten days, I’ve had a KitKat. I’m not going to change that now.” John Isner, men’s semifinalist.
Superstition and rewards. As a writer, I can so totally relate to this. I like the concept of rewards. When I hit my week goals, it’s nice to be able to look forward to a KitKat or a Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Caramel square. If I don’t hit my weekly goals but I accomplished something I didn’t have a week ago, it’s nice to look forward to a Hershey Miniature like a Krackle. Rewards are such great motivation. Don’t beat yourself up if you set a goal and don’t reach it, but at the same time, don’t let yourself get complacent if you chose to goof-off. If I don’t meet my goals because I chose to watch both men’s semifinals in their entirety (which, for the record, I didn’t), then maybe that’s not the week to reward myself. But if I worked hard and I made progress, I can enjoy that episode of Death in Paradise a little more.
“Trust in yourself. Trust the process.” Novak Djokovic.
Ultimately, whether it’s via a support group or with the positive reinforcement of rewards, a writer has to learn his or her process, write, and trust that process. There’s a reason so many writers often repeat the mantra of BICHOK (bottom in chair; hands on keyboard). Because that’s the only way you can learn to trust yourself as a writer and learn your process.
Thanks to all the incredible players and matches that were so fun to watch. Thanks to the commentators and players for inspirational quotes that helped me reflect on life as a writer. Only a couple of weeks until the US Open. I’ll be listening and watching. That is, once I sit in the chair and write for the day.