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  • [Making The Leap] The Tao of Softball and Writing
[Making The Leap] The Tao of Softball and Writing
Written by
Julie Luek
October 2013
Written by
Julie Luek
October 2013

I have been spending a lot of time lately at the ball fields watching my daughter play. I admit to not being overly athletic, but the other day, I started really listening to the coach and realized there was a lot of wise writing philosophy to be borrowed from the game. Not wanting to hog all the enlightenment for myself, I thought I'd share my insights. 


1.  Keep your head down. There is a tendency, when hitting, for a batter to turn her head out to the field, and watch where she thinks the ball will go. Unfortunately, this habit can lead to a strike. Hitters know they need to keep their head down and watch the ball all the way in, focusing on the contact with the bat. If they’re looking ahead, they might miss.


Lesson one for writing: Keep your head down to your writing and enjoy the process. If you start looking ahead—thinking about finishing a whole book or even the fame you hope to someday achieve--it can get overwhelming. Sure you have your dreams (who doesn’t want a home run?) but keep your focus on the writing at hand. Savor the journey.


2. Stand tall and finish the pitch. My daughter’s softball team has a very good pitcher. She can usually tailor her throws to the catcher’s call and stay strong. But sometimes, towards the end of the game—understandably so—she gets tired and starts to slack in her technique. That’s when the coach will holler out, “Stand tall! Finish the pitch!” The coach is reminding her to keep her posture strong and to not get lazy, complete the full arm movement and follow through. 


Lesson two for writing: Sometimes in the midst of our writing assignments, we get tired. It’s the inevitable “saggy middle”. That’s when we need to take a deep breath, stand tall and finish what we’ve started. It’s easy to lose the vision, but we have to keep going as strong as when we began. Otherwise, we’ll end up with a bunch of half-finished manuscripts or articles in our desk drawer.


3. Get the ball into play. It’s tempting for a player to approach home plate with dreams of smacking the ball out of the park. But coaches know that a player who’s trying too hard is likely to miss. That’s why they’ll remind their players: just get the ball into play. Once it’s hit, it’s up to the opposing team. The hitter’s job is to lob it out there and increase her chances of getting on base.


Lesson three for writing: It’s so easy to write, edit, revise and repeat ad infinitum, never being satisfied enough or too scared to lob our work out there. At some point, you have to query the article, put the final period on the sentence and send your baby out to the field. It may score a home run, or it may even just get you on base. Either way, your writing is in play for others to read and consider.


4. Shake it off—nothing hurt! It happens. Errors occur. A player in the infield lets a ball slip through her glove. A pop fly doesn’t land in an outstretched glove. The temptation in the wake of these sometimes costly mistakes is to get angry or be discouraged. Many a player has walked off from a strike out, head down, fighting tears. The problem is, if the player stays in that state of mind, she will lose her focus and her fight. The exhortation, shake it off! reminds the player to get over it, move on, and keep her head in the game.

Writing lesson number 4: Not every query is going to work. You may have to rework it. An agent or editor may not accept your article idea or first 50 pages; shake it off. It could be the timing is off, or it just doesn’t quite fit their needs. Nothing hurt. Keep your focus, get back in the game and keep trying.


5. Let’s be talking out there! In softball, errors are made when the players aren’t communicating to each other on the field. They need to be telling each other where the opposing team is, where the ball is heading and calling out who is going for the catch. It’s embarrassing and hurts the team (not to mention the players) if two people are going for the same ball, not talking to each other, and collide. It’s a team game, requiring collective communication, support, and learning.


Writing lesson number 5: We need each other. Writers’ work is so solitary, we can often isolate ourselves. This can get lonely and keep us from learning. There’s comfort in our common struggle and dream to “hit one out of the park.” (That’s why She Writes is invaluable.)  So let’s keep supporting each other, touching base and sharing our dreams, learning curves, and expertise.


Let’s be talking out there,



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  • Julie Luek

    Thanks, Lee Hong-- it's what happens when writing absorbs my every thought. ;)

  • Lifan Writing

    Hi Julie Nice parallel drawn between the game and writing. Thanks and Cheers, Lee Hong

  • Julie Luek

    Margo, I haven't tried to send anything so big as a book out there (yet), just articles/posts-- freelance stuff. I hate the rejections-- get that stone-in-my-stomach feeling when I see them, then I usually breathe deep and move on. It DOES take a lot of self-talk!

  • Margo L. Dill

    I am currently sending my work out there, and I need to shake it off. I start to doubt my work after the first rejection even after having several publications and contracts under my belt. I have to constantly self-talk. :) Thanks for the reminders, Julie!

  • Julie Luek

    Thanks Brit-- it's surely advice I need and take to heart at any rate! Self-talk at the softball fields. :)

  • Brit Columbia

    Thank you, Julie. This is solid advice.

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Jenny-- Well I'll be looking forward to your post about rounders! That's new to me :). 

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Marcia-- Marcia and flattered and look forward to stopping by your post (I love meeting new writers and reading their blogs. I love to write, of course, and am always looking for inspiration, even at softball fields.

  • Marcia Richards

    Excellent analogy. Thanks for sharing this. I'm going to post an excerpt of your post a link back to it for my writing post on Oct 10th. I know my readers will be inspired. If you'd like to stop by to say hello to my commenters, you can find me at marciaarichards.com/blog

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Suzi, when watching softball, which I'm only "into" because my sweet, athletic daughter plays, I have many rabbit trails of thoughts. This was one of them. Suddenly I was engaged with the game and listening to the coach thinking, "I can use that advice with my writing!"

  • suzi banks baum

    Thank you Julie. I really love how you continue to digest how motherhood impacts and influences your creative life. xoxox Suzi

  • Julie Luek

    Hi Kamy, This is what happens to my thinking when I sit through game after game after.. well you get the idea. ;)

  • Kamy Wicoff Brainstorming

    What an awesome post! I really love this.  Thanks, Julie.