Writing Tips From the Greats of Baseball

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“The crowd makes the ballgame.”
Ty Cobb, baseball player

Remember those words. “The crowd makes the ballgame.” That is the truth. It is the number one thing you need to remember about your writing. The crowd. The readers. You don’t always have to please them, but you sure as heck need to keep them in mind. If you don’t, you’re just writing for yourself. Which is okay as long as you’re not expecting to be published someday. But for those of us who enjoy being published and make our livings writing, the reader must be held in importance.

“This is a game to be savored, not gulped.”
Bill Veeck, team owner and promoter

There is a lot of truth in that statement from one of baseball’s more flamboyant characters. For one thing, if you rush through a writing project, you’re likely to make more mistakes. Sit back and enjoy your writing. If you’re not having fun writing, your readers probably won’t either.

“Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.”
Robert Frost, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

Again, there’s truth to be found here. Not all of your writing is going to be great. Sometimes things will “click,” and every word you type is going to be golden. Other times, your grocery list is more exciting than any story ideas you can come up with. It happens. Learn to deal with it. Allow yourself to write badly. Once you can do that, you’ll be able to move ahead with projects. Besides, a lot of the real work is done in editing and rewriting.

“Baseball is too much of a sport to be called a business, and too much of a business to be called a sport.”
Philip Wrigley, baseball executive and chewing gum manufacturer

Yes, writing can be a lot of fun. But for professionals, it’s also a business. Keep that in mind when you are trying to get your work published. Editors and publishers are hoping to make money from your work. And they work too, work hard, so don’t think you’re doing everything while they’re just sitting back and riding your coattails. Writing is a business. Editors and publishers have house payments and families to feed just like a lot of other people.

“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”
Yogi Berra, baseball player and manager

In writing, there are a lot of people who offer advice. Most of them don’t know what they’re talking about. They can give you their personal experiences, and they can offer technical advice about writing, but no one can tell you what the next gigantic, best-selling novel is going to be. Not even the New York City publishers can do that. They might think they can, but they can’t It’s a crap shoot. It’s a roll of the dice. Yes, writing well increases the chances of a book or article or story or poem of being published, but even writing like Shakespeare doesn’t guarantee a particular piece of writing will be the next big thing. Just remember to pay attention and take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt. And yes, even advice from me.

“Don’t think. It can only hurt the ball club.”
Crash Davis, catcher played by Kevin Costner in the movie “Bull Durham”

Sometimes thinking about a project you’re working on can actually hurt the project. Maybe you’re over thinking things. Maybe you need a little perspective. If a project is driving you batty, take a breather from it. Maybe a few hours or even a few days. Maybe a week or two. Then come back to it fresh. Unless you’re writing the next great American novel or some extended book on a deep philosophical subject, give yourself a break and don’t over think your writing.

“There have been only two geniuses in the world. Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare.”
Tallulah Bankhead, actress and avid New York Giants fan

‘Nuff said!

More writing links

Basic Tips for Editing Your Novel

Where Do Fiction Writers Get Their Ideas?

The Importance of Editing Your Writing

Improve Your Writing by Forgetting About It

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