Writing is a highly competitive and intense sport.  Wait a minute…a sport?  Yes, absolutely. 

Those of us who are writers already know that we participate in a highly personal and even physical activity, and I’m going to classify it as a sport because, according to Mr. Webster, it has the earmarks of being a sport, ergo it gets to BE a sport:

Sport [spawrt, spohrt]


1. an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature,  as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

2. a particular form of this, especially in the out of doors.

3. diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime.

Let’s get past all the athletic activity that’s mentioned in the first definition.  We’ll just stick with writing being a physical activity, and I’m going to tell you why.  Think of all the pacing that happens when a plot gets stuck.  Think of all the trips to the fridge and the pantry for snack food, and think of all the trips to the coffee pot for much-needed caffeine to keep that finely-tuned word-smithing machine cranking.  Yep, that, my friends is PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.  That is SPORT.

By the time we get to the third definition, I’m sold on writing being a sport.  Just don’t focus solely on the ‘pleasant pastime’ part of it.  There are, of course, going to be bumps in the road…like when you can’t decide what to make your protagonist do next or how to lay out your next plot twist or maybe even how to begin the first sentence of the first chapter.  It’s mostly pleasant, and we do it because we love it.  Those little sticky points and barely-perceptible unpleasant parts are just sort of like all those times when we were forced to pile into the car for family vacations.  You remember hearing your dad say, “We’re going on vacation, and we’re going to have FUN, DAMMIT” through gritted teeth?  Yeah, those are the sticky parts.

Playing a sport is dirty and competitive, and when it comes right down to game time, you have to put your whole heart and soul into it.  And it’s pretty much the same for writing.  Writing is dirty.  There are the rewrites and the messy chapters and the plots that just don’t work.  There are the character flaws and the grammar issues and the whole business of being unique and creative.

Writing is also competitive.  Don’t get me wrong—we writers love each other.  We love to be in the company of other writers, and we love to talk to each other.  We love to hear what other writers are up to, and we love to read new work by breakout authors.  But at the same time, we realize it’s a full ocean with lots of fish who want to  see their very own work in print.  It’s a tough market out there, and while we root for each other, we also want to succeed professionally.

Finally—and this may be the thing that hits closest to home for most writers—writing is an all-or-nothing sport.  It’s a sport that demands your entire heart and soul.  Once you put yourself in the game, you are in the game 100%...win or lose.  Whatever the outcome, you are out in front of the world, playing your best game and hoping to win.  Your playbook holds only words, and how you string them together to tell your stories can make or break the outcome of your game.  Did you tell a good story?  Did you leave your reader wanting more?  Did you take your story into overtime, leading up to a nail-biting conclusion that no one expected?

 Oh yes, writing is a sport.  Got game? 

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft
Amazon Price: $16.00 $7.40 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 1, 2014)