Five Things Writers Can Learn from Olympians

Mary_Lou_RettonI am awestruck by Olympians. I have a competitive streak in me (just ask anyone who has ever played “Flip Cup” with me or been on my ultimate frisbee team). However, I lack the sheer physical discipline it takes to perform at the peak levels that Olympic athletes do. And, let’s be honest, I’m not very endowed in the coordination department, either. However, I’m a sucker for stories of athletic success. It’s the reason I’ve gotten sucked in to the “30 for 30” TV series even though I almost never watch ESPN.

Anyone who’s ever had a goal they really, really want can use a little bit of inspiration now and then. Especially aspiring authors. Why? Because writers face daunting statistics. In a year where a literary agent receives thousands of query letters in the “slush pile,” she might sign one or two clients. Seven out of ten books don’t earn out the advance paid to the author. With dismal odds like these, writers need Olympic-level motivation sometimes to keep going. So here are five quotes from Olympians that I find inspiring for those days when it seems like the finish line is oh-so-far away.

  1. “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.” – Mary Lou Retton, gymnast
  2. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali, boxer
  3. “Falling in life is inevitable—staying down is optional.”Carrie Johnson, kayaker
  4. “If you think you’re done, you always have at least 40 percent more.” Lauren Crandall, field hockey
  5. “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” -Jesse Owens, track & field


Author: Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

4 Replies to “Five Things Writers Can Learn from Olympians”

  1. Okay, number 4—if you think you’re done, you have 40% more. This can be so aptly applied to writing. The first time I thought Becoming Josephine was finished and that I had nothing left to give, I was exhausted and relieved…until I got the feedback I needed and realized HOLY CRAP I have so much more to do. I had to dig deep, but it was definitely there.

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