Writing is a lot like golf. Every sentence is stroke, every paragraph a hole, and every word an adjustment to your swing. All a writer tries to do is string together one good shot after the next. If you can par the course, you did pretty good. I usually settle for less than 20 over, in both writing and on the course. I can’t putt. I can get to the green, but it takes too long to get to the hole. All my last sentences in each paragraph are badly written.
I had a dream a few nights ago that I was sitting in a tavern. I was in the White Horse Tavern at Hudson and 11th. I was sitting at a back table with my dad, drinking pints and desperately explaining that I was a writer, that I was going to make it work, that I would stop at nothing to get a book, or several, published. In an effort to help my dad understand writing I used this golf analogy, thinking that it would strike him in such a way that he would understand where I was coming from, his love of golf translated into my love of typing words on a screen. I said I wanted to become the “Tiger, Tiger Woods Y’all” of writing. His response was a typical T. White style joke that makes you laugh because you can’t believe you didn’t think of it first. He just leaned in over his amber colored pint and said, “Tiger, Tiger WORDS Y’all!”
I woke up laughing. But, it got me thinking. “I gotta get moving!” And I started writing again on more of a regular basis. It’s just like golf really when you start to break it down. If you don’t play golf often, your swing suffers. If you only practice putting, your drive suffers. If you never practice your irons, your mid range game suffers. It’s all about rounding out your practice everyday, it’s about stretching and flexing those muscles as often as you can, so when you take a swing you’re not sore. And when you’re ready to string a series of shots together, you can do just that, easily parring a hole in front of an audience.
All forms of writing need to be practiced on a regular basis in order to get better and have any success. This includes reading, something that I fall in and out of love with often. I have been much better about it lately, making myself intrigued again by rereading some of my favorite books of all time including The Town and the City by Jack Kerouac and Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. These authors and plenty of others have inspired me once and I’m positive they will again and again. Reading is an exercise too and should be made part of my daily routine. Although it’s much easier to pick up a delicious craft brew and pour it down my neck than to sit in a well lit area and choke down Goethe.
It is much more than just writing and hoping the words compile in paper form and end up on book shelf. It is entrepreneurship, motivation, hustle, and drive. I’m finally learning that becoming a writer takes more than “reading and writing well” just as I found out that golf is a lot more than getting a small white, dimpled ball into a hole that’s really far away. It’s about practice, playing the game with the right people, and working hard every day. It’s about maintaining a clear and simple path while juggling all the other mind boggles that life throws at you. But if you are determined and guided, anything you truly want can be achieved.