The Writer and the Athlete

As very often happens in my writing, I start from a single thought without any real idea of where I am headed.  Since this is a written blog I thought I would write about writers for a change of pace.  Sometimes it works and well until now you never really knew of the multitude of un-birthed writings buried somewhere in the depths of my backup hard drive.

Writing much like competing in sports requires practice, ability, experience and drive.  The writer / athlete must be free of fear and anxiety in order to put pen to paper.  I have seen writers of every type.  The gifted and the not so gifted are all around us.  There are those that can knock out a thousand words in a small amount of time and for others it could take a week or longer.  Quality too will vary.  The quick can be brilliant or bad, because all the elements must come together as in sport.  I’ve known writers to meditate to reduce stress, and many that have used drugs and alcohol to cope with expectations of exposing the core essence of their soul, if you will, to people that will make judgments about their very being, perhaps based on a single word they don’t like in a paragraph.

Not much different from the athletes I work with.  Coping one way or another– in search of that sweet spot in time, where everything comes together.  Most do this in front of family and friends, but many, especially at the highest levels, do it in front of strangers that will rip them apart for their failures and cheer unbelievably at their accomplishments.

So together we have writer and athlete.  On common ground for many reasons, as I have mentioned.  What I see most in common though is that success is not based singly on ability or experience.  It is certainly not on their ability to cope (as much as I’d like to show) with stress, as we have a history of great writers and athletes that have dealt with these pressures through drugs, booze and let’s not leave out sex*.  (*we can’t just end with the word sex)    

To me perhaps the common denominator between writer and athlete is Drive.  Great writers seem to be driven by some inner demon.  Not all of course, but many.  Many of our greatest athletes were driven by something similar.  Without those demons, do we have Hemingway?  Do we have athletes, too numerous to single out in this space, that have had the same types of inner issues they try to work out through sports?

I’ve often said that I rarely work with athletes that have real problems.  I do need to talk and write about the issues of a small group, because like it or not they are the faces we see.  If we had helped them early, would they have had issues later?  Would Woods have carried on?  Would Steve Howe have lined himself out of baseball?  I really can’t say.  What I do know is that many are driven by their inner demons, and not all of them succeed.  For every Hemingway, there is a Margolies.  For every Woods there is a Schemegie.

Drive doesn’t guarantee anything in writing or sports.  As the Greeks would have said, it is the combination of events mixed with the Fates.  Perhaps we can help them though the nurturing process to produce genius without tragedy.  I can only hope.

What I do know is that we increase our odds through our caring behavior.  We create writers out of ashes and athletes out of lumps of clay.  We have a history of pushing and bullying both groups to incredible feats and accomplishments.  How many do we lose along the way?  I see kids drop out of sports every day because no one took the time to realize that what worked for some does not work for all.  I see young enthusiastic (and some old) would be writers put down their pens before the words can form in their minds because someone (in their past or their present) told them the word was wrong.  Will we learn to nurture each other and ourselves?  I’m not sure.  And since we don’t always do what is right for either the writer or the athlete, I know it is my job is to reach those who need help to love their sport and hopefully along the way find greatness.  I’m just glad there are others out there that feel the same about writers.



This is some text prior to the author information. You can change this text from the admin section of WP-Gravatar  Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential. Read more from this author


    • Nice of you to say. The secret is just find your voice, say something, and let it go. After a while things become clearer. And when hardly no one listens, its OK, because someone heard you even if they didn’t say so. More importantly you gained confidence by sharing. Sharing thoughts with the world is part of being human and we tend to forget this most important part of us. Be well. Follow please if you will and share with friends.

      • Mike,

        “Sharing thoughts with the world is part of being human and we tend to forget this most important part of us.”

        I am so glad you plunge in courageously.

        Looking forward to the publication of your book! For many reasons…

        Telling Transparently what we can and putting into context seemingly unrelated things is a gift, a gift, a gift.

        We each express ourselves through different modalities. I am writer and walker and was once upon distance runner. I will always be a writer. It keeps me sane. And better still to share with others makes me feel like I am in contribution. And that feels best of all. I hope that people find and read my writings but I don’t recall ever depending on comments for feeling content with my writing and sharing. I wish those who wanted to write, simply do for the noblest of reasons. It is therapeutic for me, that much I know.

        Appreciate your blog. You know I do!

        • We all have gifts. Bringing out those gifts in others is perhaps a greater gift than being an athlete, a walker, a writer or speaker. What we can do to bring out the best in others, never diminishes our own light, only serves to help it shine brighter.
          You are helping me in many ways, writing is just one. As I too am a servant, I know what it feels like when the candle burns at both ends. Some believe that only when we shine the light on ourselves and fulfill our own potential do we reach what we are supposed to be. I believe it is the sharing of the light that is the true gift. Thank you for sharing yours with me.

        • Touchdown! That’s a really cool way of puttnig it!

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