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How Olympic athletes inspire me to be a better writer

Do you have what it takes to be a Olympic-level writer?

As I watched the Olympics for the past two weeks, I was inspired by the athletes’ performances — even the ones who didn’t win medals. It made me think about how the principles of winning as an Olympic-caliber athlete can be applied to winning as a writer.

To rise as a writer to the level of an Olympic athlete, follow the same practices and mindset.

Practice daily. Olympic gold medal ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White started skating together at age 8 and practiced for 17 years before winning at Sochi. They practiced nearly every day and their story is the norm. To excel, you must put in the time, create a writing practice.

Prepare for rejection. The way to the gold medal is packed with performances and you don’t win them all. The most famous writers in the world faced rejection — sometimes in the double-digits — before they were published.  Twenty-six publishers rejected A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It won the 1963 Newbery Medal and became an international best-seller with more than eight million copies sold.

Make sacrifices. Many athletes make their sport their entire life focus. They don’t go to regular schools, they miss school events, and they sacrifice time with family and friends in order to train.

Be passionate about your craft. Peruvian cross country skier Roberto Carcelen fractured a rib during practice before the Olympics. He was told by a doctor that he probably wouldn’t be able to compete. But he was determined to ski in the 15K classic cross country race with the goal of just finishing. He came in dead last, nearly 30 minutes behind Dario Cologna of Switzerland, who won the gold with a time of 38 minutes, 29.7 seconds. Cologna was waiting at the finish line to congratulate Carcelen. Winning is sometimes about achieving key milestones.

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