Every so often I hit a point where I think it’s time to take up bowling.
I say this because writing is hard. Granted, some people can sit down at a computer (or typewriter for you hard-core folks) and pound out 70k to 100k words without blinking.
I’m not that guy.
Staring at a blank screen and trying to not only outline, but actually form sentences is daunting. Even after the ball is rolling there’s the need to link those sentences into a plot, somehow create interesting characters, show and not tell, and then tighten the prose to keep the pace fast and gripping.
And that’s just the first draft. After that it’s betas, revisions, queries, rejections, partials (maybe fulls), signing with an agent, editors, subs to publishers, and so on. It’s a long, winding path up a steep hill. Sitting at the base of that hill, bowling seems like a better option.
So I go. I drive to the local lanes, rent those sexy shoes, grab a ball, and hurl it at the pins. It isn’t graceful, but it’s fun and cathartic. Like running, painting, or other techniques, it’s a way to let the brain cool down for a while. A few games, maybe a pint and some greasy nachos, and I’m ready to tackle that story once again.
The funny thing is, I’m sure there’s a guy or girl on a lane somewhere, bowling their heart out, and wondering if they should take up writing instead. Knocking all 10 pins down at once is daunting. Even after the ball is rolling, there’s the need to develop the right spin to pick up the 7-10 split, somehow maintain a long run of strikes, and then repeat that time and again under the pressure of competition. And all that is long before they try and go pro.
Writing isn’t easy and every so often we’re going to wonder if there’s any point to continuing the climb. But worrying about it too much is just wasted energy. The best we can do is continue to develop the characters in our heads, learn from our peers and mentors, and do our best to hone our craft. But most important, we need to keep writing.
And occasionally take the time to go bowling.