Tag Archives: sports

15 Common Points Between Writing & Running Marathons (part 2)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the conclusion of my two-part series that compares 15 points in common between the writing process – particularly book and extensive projects – and running marathons. Actually, it’s 18 points in common, but who’s counting?)

“The race begins at 20 miles”: Years ago, a friend, journalist and veteran marathoner said this to me. While most people might crash and burn at 20 miles (or before), serious marathon racers dig in the final 10K. So it is with book writing. The last leg is often the hardest. You’re tired, you’ve lived with the subject for months or years, and you want to be finished. But this is the most vital part of the book, next to the first chapter. Focus more intently than ever, tap emotional and creative reserves, and power through to the finish.

Enjoy the solitude: If ever four groups of people know and understand solitude better than the rest of the population, they would be runners, writers, artists and monks. We spend countless hours alone with our words. Enjoy the quiet time; enjoy the ideal atmosphere it provides you to create, think deeply, and work. Not everyone gets this chance. Ask someone who works in a cubicle or workstation all day. The material percolates in solitude. The more you can enjoy it and immerse in it, the more you can produce – and the more cohesive it will be.

Push the hills: One of the best road racing strategies is to push hills hard – and then surge for 30 meters or so at the top. All authors know there are many uphill climbs in the long course of writing a book – struggles with scenes, characters, getting the right information, fluid narrative description, etc. Some days, we feel like we can write anything; on others, our sentences feel like back roads clunkers. We all hit them; we all wonder how we’re going to get to the top. The answer: one word at a time. Push past the obstacles, while holding to the greater vision for your work. Write hard to keep the momentum going.

Increase focus as the race progresses: The same thing has happened in every marathon I’ve raced. For the first eight miles or so, runners talk to each other, compare strategies, talk about favorite runs they’ve ever taken, maybe shoot photos of the crowd (if they carry smartphones, which many do — not me!) and truly enjoy being out there. For the next eight miles, the focus tightens, paces become locked in, and the talking lessens. For the final ten miles, there is very little talking and very deep focus. Good authors take us deeper and deeper into their stories, a reflection of their increased focus as they deliver the goods. Focus, focus, focus.

Don’t hit too many aid stations: One of the myths (and, actually, physical dangers) of long races is that it is important to drink at every aid station. NOT SO. When I run marathons, I only drink six times – roughly once every 4½ miles. Everyone has their number, but point is: don’t take too many breaks. This applies directly to writing. Momentum and rhythm are everything; when you’re on a roll, stay on it. If you must, take only small breaks when writing books to recharge, but never more than a week or two. Long breaks are a no-no, unless you’re between drafts.

There will be pain: To borrow from a surfwear manufacturer’s 1980s ad campaign, Every marathoner knows the feeling. It starts at about 15 miles, hits fully at 18 to 20 miles, and envelops you the final 6 miles. PAIN. We know it’s coming when we toe the starting line, but we know how to handle it – by reaching down and taking the race one stride at a time. Likewise, book writing can be (and often is) emotionally painful and mentally taxing, especially tell-all memoirs and novels with characters exhibiting emotions that grab you from the page. When you read scenes like this, you know the writer is feeling it. Embrace the pain, and turn it into your ally. Use it to drive more deeply within yourself, opening new thresholds of possibility for your writing – and greater perspective as a person. The more you can work with writing pain in all its forms, the more deeply touched readers will be.

Head down; one step at a time: This extends from the last comment. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon with moderate plantar fasciitis. In other words, the last five miles were hell. However, I nearly held my earlier race pace because I pulled my cap over my eyes like I was in the ‘hood, looked down at my toes, and took it one step at a time. That’s exactly how I write books; by adopting that technique, I’ve gone from being a good starter to a good finisher. Keep your head down and write one chapter at a time, one paragraph at a time – and one sentence at a time. This approach becomes especially important when revising and self-editing, when you make sure every word fits and every word counts.

Finish strong: One of the best ways to ensure good race results is to finish strong in each training run, picking up the pace at the end. Likewise with book writing. Good final chapters sew up the story or subject, and leave readers feeling: a) like they want more; b) wholly satisfied; or c) Googling you for more books, or for more perspectives based upon the great book you have given them. Reach down and give it everything you’ve got in the last chapter – just like a good racer.

Celebrate!: When we finish something as monumental as a book, or a marathon, it’s time to celebrate! Then take at least a week off from writing of any kind … your batteries will definitely need to be recharged.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Literacy, Books, Creativity, Education, Featured Websites, Fiction, Journalism, literature, Memoir, Reading, travelogue, Writing, Writing Education, Young Writers

On Dharma Bums, Eternity, Legacies & Champions: Publishing Highlights of 2012

Happy New Year!

Time to clean off the desk after a busy, eventful 2012…

Headshot- for proposalFirst of all, a big congratulations to my sweetheart, Martha Halda, whose memoir, A Taste of Eternity, is now at book proposal and agent stage.

Martha first thought of writing this book while recovering from a horrendous 1999 car accident in which she was pronounced clinically dead three times — and had a profound Near Death Experience that has defined her physical and spiritual life since.  To give you an idea of how far she has come from that accident? After her family was initially told she would be an invalid for the rest of her life, she went on to complete the 2002 Dublin Marathon, and lives a healthy, robust life today.

Now, she’s written the first three chapters of A Taste of Eternity, and looking forward to a 2013 publish date. Martha has also started a blog, in which she’ll share a few stories from the book and how her daily life continues to be touched by those precious minutes she spent directly in God’s hands.

• • •

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I picked up a very interesting project: to write a Cliff Notes-type “specimen” for Barnes & Noble.  The book in question? One of my all-time favorite novels, The Dharma Bums. Once again, interest in the Beat generation and author Jack Kerouac is flying through the roof, this time because of the December 21 film release of On The Road, Kerouac’s breakthrough novel. When Kristen Stewart is one of the three lead actors (she plays Marylou), the movie figures to draw attention for younger moviegoers. Many will likely turn to the rich soil of Beat literature, which continues to speak to the young, disenfranchised, soul and purpose seekers.

However, The Dharma Bums project excites me for another reason. In the decade since the last time I read the 1958 autobiographical novel about Kerouac’s the dharma bumsawakening to nature and Buddhism, I’ve gotten to know the real-life Japhy Ryder, the novel’s protagonist. With this book, Kerouac turned mountain man-Buddhist-poet-conversationalist extraordinaire Gary Snyder into a cultural hero and the leader of the “rucksack revolution”, a good 15 years before Gary won the Pulitzer Prize for Turtle Island.  What amazes me is how little Kerouac deviated from Gary’s voice and character in what was supposed to be a fictional character. Every time I read Japhy Ryder’s dialogue, I could hear Gary expounding on something or another during the many times we would get together in Northern California. The actions, the convictions, the interests, the profound knowledge and wisdom … all Gary. And to think: he was only 25 when he and Kerouac had the experiences that formed the backbone of The Dharma Bums.

Ever read a novel where you personally know the protagonist? I hadn’t, either. It certainly creates a different experience, one that I hope will add reading insight for the Barnes & Noble customers who pick up this treatment later in 2013.

• • •

photoAlso on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, and newsstands throughout the country, is The Legacy Series Magazine. I was privileged to help conceptualize this magazine, as well as edit it. We began with a tribute to the late Steve Jobs and his enormous legacy to businesses and consumers (besides masterminding Apple products, he facilitated change or the creation of eight industries). Then we talked to some of the most visionary people and leading innovators in technology today, including Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank co-star Mark Cuban, GE Senior VP Beth Comstock, bestselling author Ken Segall, Zinio Executive VP Jeanniey Mullen, Chris Voss of The Chris Voss Show, Ask.com co-founder (and my old high school friend) David Warthen, and iPhone Film Fest winner Craig Perkins.

We also wrote compelling features on the present and future courses of social media, filmmaking, technology, publishing, crowdfunding, music, green technology and cloud computing. All of these pieces brought out what I love most about fine magazine journalism: Great interviews, great insights, explanation of new concepts, and the writers’ distinct abilities to inject their personal experience and the stories of others into the material they were covering. You want to know what’s coming next in these areas? Get the mag.

The Legacy Series Magazine will be featured at MacWorld/iWorld in San Francisco in three weeks. We have a major announcement pending on possible multiple issues, but we will always produce the large annual publication in the fall.

• • •

TCW_r2_ecover-loresI also had the privilege of serving as co-author to Dr. Steve Victorson in The Champion’s Way. Steve and I spent three years gathering materials and writing this book, which revolves entirely around groundbreaking research Steve did in the late 1990s for his doctoral dissertation at Boston University. In that research, he interviewed more than 40 national, world and Olympic ski champions and top performers, and found 11 distinct characteristics in common between champions. These 11 characteristics are not found in any other books on the subject.

We put Steve’s findings to the test with champions in all sports — and they rang true, in every case. Thus, The Champion’s Way’s 200 pages explore the inner and outer qualities of champions, look at nearly 100 repeat winners in 15 different sports, and point out specific ways in which all of us can develop, sharpen and refine our own latent championship qualities. Besides plenty of great sports anecdotes, the lasting value of The Champion’s Way is how the 11 common characteristics can create top performance in our lives, no matter our vocation, sport or interest.

The Champion’s Way is available through bookstores nationwide, and in both print and Kindle form on Amazon.com.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Literacy, Author Platform, Books, E-books, Editing, Education, Featured Websites, Fiction, Film, Innovation, Journalism, literature, Marketing, Memoir, Music, Online Media, poetry, Promotions, Social Media, Technology, Teen Literacy, travelogue, Writing, Writing Education, Young Writers

A Change of Pace: New Blogs, Author Interviews, The Legacy Series Magazine Release

• Word Journeys Media

• Blog Interview with Author August McLaughlin on Dec. 12

• The Legacy Series Magazine Releases Nationally on Dec. 10

For the past five years, we’ve presented a wide variety of topics on the Word Journeys Blog. Much of it revolved around the writing profession, practice and book publishing industry, but we also wrote blogs on culture, travel, surfing, running, and many other topics.

Starting in January, we’re going to expand our reach — while more tightly focusing this blog. Our new blog, Word Journeys Media, will focus on industry-specific topics for writers, publishers, literary agents and others. It will be tied to the new wing of Word Journeys, which will specialize in promotional, publicity, marketing and consultation services for authors.

Among the Word Journeys Media services will be the 360 Book Publicity Suite. We’re partnering with Innovative Properties Worldwide to present this sweeping press release and publicity service for authors that connects their new books with up to 300,000 media, online, blog, book review and industry destinations — a reach most publishers can’t match. It also provides deep social media connection and establishment of the author as an expert on their subject in the eyes of the media. More on this in a special announcement blog next week. Write me at ryehling@wordjourneys.com if you’re interested in learning more.

• • •

Meanwhile, the Word Journeys blog will offer more author interviews, book reviews, and pieces that celebrate life and the writing lifestyle. We’ve just become a part of a number of major book blog tours, so get ready to meet some of the authors who are producing the latest fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles.  I was inspired to take this approach by Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, who hosts a weekly radio show, “Notes from the Field with Michael Shrieve,” that features, well, conversations with other musicians. His recent interview with Rush drummer Neil Peart was truly extraordinary.

We will begin our greater focus on authors next Wednesday, December 12, when we sit down with August McLaughlin, author of In Her Shadow, a psychological thriller that releases in January. This interview is part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. August recently contributed to The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edited. August is an exceptional writer with one of the most entertaining and informative (and, at times, spiciest) blogs, “Savor The Storm” 

So be sure to stop by The Word Journeys blog on Wednesday to meet August.

• • •

The other big event next week is the release of The Legacy Series Magazine: Celebrating Technology & Innovation. It releases on newsstands nationwide on Monday, Dec. 10. In the year since I took on the editing job for this publication, I have learned so much about our relationship with technology, how the craftiest and most visionary innovators turn their ideas into reality, and just how far we’ve come in technology — and still have to go. To paraphrase IT expert Mary Meeker’s take on the status of mobile apps, we’re still in spring training.

As one who was born in 1959, the year the transistor first started shipping, I’d have to say we’ve come pretty far. In fact, if you told someone in 1959 that they could watch TV on their computer, or text, or run one of more than 1.4 million applications off a portable palm-sized phone, they’d say two words: “science fiction.”

The Legacy Series Magazine is a fun, fun read. We feature incisive, expert-driven looks at the future of publishing, social media, filmmaking, cloud computing, tablets and much more. We built this issue around the legacy of the late Steve Jobs, who as Apple’s CEO revolutionized and/or redefined eight specific industries with his inventions, products and innovations — the most since Thomas Edison. The more I learned about Jobs from those who knew him best, such as Ken Segall, bestselling author of Insanely Simple and the man who came up with the “i” branding concept for Apple products, the more deeply I appreciated what Jobs did for our lives.

We talked with a lot of industry experts. My favorite conversations took place with Chris Voss, host of the Chris Voss Show and a Forbes magazine Top 50 Social Media influencer; Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, co-star of Shark Tank and co-owner of Magnolia Pictures and AXS-TV; Jeanniey Mullen, executive VP of Zinio, the world’s foremost distributor of digital magazine content; Beth Comstock, senior VP of GE and the mastermind of the hulu.com TV website when she headed the digital division at NBC Universal; Dr. Gustavo Rabin, author of Becoming A Leader; and Craig Perkins, winner of the 2012 iPhone Film Festival. You’d be amazed at the cinematic quality iPhones have!

You can pre-order a copy of The Legacy Series Magazine, and receive 50% off the newsstand price.  Go to www.legacyseriesmagazine.com and visit the online store to place your order.

• • •

Finally, I’d be remiss in failing to mention two holiday gift ideas that I had a major hand in creating:

“The Champion’s Way,” which I co-wrote with Dr. Steve Victorson, offers a unique insight into the 11 characteristics all great champions share in common — whether sports champions, business icons, chart-topping entertainers and musicians, or champions in other walks of life. Our revised edition includes an update from the Summer Olympic games. You can order it by going to our website at http://thechampionsway.com.

“The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Enhance Your Writing Life.” I compiled and wrote this book to offer 366 unique, story-driven writing exercises that are guaranteed to increase your range and versatility, whether you’re a middle school student, teacher, or professional writer. There are exercises for virtually every fiction and non-fiction genre, along with “workouts” for poets, screenwriters, lyricists and essayists. I compiled the exercises developed during 10 years of teaching writing workshops, and added some fun asides you will find on every page — inspiring quotes, author birthdays, and much more. You can pick it up by going to http://www.penandpublish/writetime.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Literacy, Author Platform, Books, Christmas, Creativity, E-books, Education, Featured Websites, Internet, Journaling, Journalism, Memoir, Online Media, poetry, Promotion, Reading, Social Media, Technology, Teen Literacy, workshops, Writing, Writing Education, Young Writers

The Champion’s Way: A Look Into the Book

Welcome to the countdown to the greatest sports spectacle — the Summer Olympic Games. My four-year wait is finally over; how about yours? The fact that the Olympics only take place every four years adds to the sense of anticipation, as does the intrigue over whether Michael Phelps will become the all-time leader in Olympic medals won (he has 16, the record is 18, he’s entered in 7 events, he’s got world-best times in 3 of them … you do the math).

For me, this Olympic season is particularly special: the book that former US Ski Team Conditioning Coach Dr. Steve Victorson and I wrote, The Champion’s Way, will be available through bookstores and online booksellers nationally on August 1 — just as the London Olympics are revving up. The official web page for the book will be online Monday, July 16.

The Champion’s Way is a perfect companion read for aficionados of Olympics and championship-level performances in general. It looks at the qualities, attitudes and approaches that people make to win, win often, and win repeatedly at the highest level of their sport or profession. That’s how Dr. Victorson defines a champion: win, and win repeatedly.

“Winning requires absolute and 100% attention to every step along the path and all details,” Victorson says. “Every human being only has a finite amount of energy that can be focused on a given task. Following and staying on the champion’s path requires all of that energy.”

I will write more blogs on the core contents of The Champion’s Way, but I’d like to open by giving you some of the back story of the book — always a great way to develop greater context and perspective as you read.

We spent three years going to great lengths to present this book. Dr. Victorson interviewed more than 50 Olympic gold medalists and World Cup ski champions, and I interviewed and pulled materials from past interviews of another dozen world champions or world record-holders. Both of us have coached champions, so we added that perspective as well. We also peppered the book with more than 100 anecdotal stories – some well-known, others not – to illustrate championship performances and how the athletes arrived at them. A couple of quick examples from the book:

• Nearly all of the champions decided early in their lives to make winning the only thing that mattered (a central quality of champions). They focused their lives entirely on that pursuit — cutting away any outside activities and even people that could distract them.

• Once on top, every repeat champion changed his or her game to remain on top, knowing that the competition would adjust and catch up. For example, Tiger Woods has altered his swing four times since busting onto the PGA TOUR in 1996 — and here he is, in mid-2012, the #2 PGA event winner of all time, with 74 victories. Skateboard legend Tony Hawk invented more than 90 maneuvers, which kept him at the helm of his sport well into his 30s (skateboarders usually peak in their mid-20s). I can remember Tony walking into the newspaper offices of The Blade-Tribune (now North County Times) 30 years ago, alongside old brother (and then reporter Steve Hawk), a skateboard always in his hand. Another we cited, Hall of Fame pitcher and World Series ring holder Dennis Eckersley, followed a career-threatening surgery with a champion’s decision: switching from a starting pitcher to a reliever. And two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses won 122 consecutive 400-meter hurdle races over a nine-year period — a record that, in my book, outmatches Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. DiMaggio’s mark took place during the 1941 regular season. Every one of Moses’ races was pressure packed. How did he do it? He made minute adjustments after every race, and coupled them with arduous training.

•  Champions in sports, business and life have this in common: they work harder, train harder and study their profession more than their peers. Does it surprise you that Albert Pujols, Bill Rodgers, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Mia Hamm and Serena Williams are authorities on the histories of their sports? It shouldn’t. They studied what it took to become great — and that means studying the past champions of their field. You study champions or people at the very top, and you study the most important history of any endeavor.

In the book, Dr. Victorson breaks out 11 specific qualities of a champion. You can adapt these to your craft, profession, business, sport or other pursuit at which you want to excel:

  1. Growing up in an environment favorable to the sport.
  2. Commitment to the sport.
  3. Naturally competitive.
  4. Winning equals first place.
  5. Losing is a learning experience.
  6. Success equals winning.
  7. No Heroes and Idols.
  8. Support of Friends, Family, Coaches, etc.
  9. Luck
  10. Knowing Self
  11. Right Equipment

These qualities form the core of . In the next blog, we will look into them a little more closely, and share a few tidbits from the book.

1 Comment

Filed under Author Platform, Books, Editing, Education, Featured Websites, History, Journalism, Marketing, Online Media, Promotion, Promotions, Reading, Social Media, Writing