A few weeks ago, I read this article about tennis player Serena Williams, who has a good case for being the best tennis player ever. After she won Wimbledon this weekend, I started thinking about that article, and how writers could learn something from her.
To sum up the article: While Williams wants to be the best she can be, she doesn't immerse herself into tennis all the time. She wants variety in her life. She doesn't concern herself much with what critics say. And she's the perfect example of why parents shouldn't constantly push their kid to devote every waking moment to a sport.
Some of that sounds like good advice for writers.
While writers must prepare for times in which they are alone, focusing on whatever idea comes to mind, the worst thing writers can do is immerse themselves in their craft every waking moment. Sure, you might crank out a masterpiece that sells millions, but you're probably going to burn yourself out.
What I think makes for a good writer is somebody who goes out to experience what the world has to offer. That's Williams' approach, even if she's known for tennis and not writing. I don't know a lot of writers personally, but I'd be surprised to find one who hasn't enhanced their experiences through more than just putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
I don't know any parents who push their kids to immerse themselves in nothing but writing, but could you imagine if that happened? Parents see J.K. Rowling and her success with Harry Potter, then see their child is a talented writer, so let's get that child to focus on nothing but writing, because there's the author of the next Harry Potter!
In other words, what we writers can learn from Williams is, while we want to be the best we can be at our craft, we shouldn't immerse ourselves too much into our craft. Sometimes the best thing we can do is step away from our writing for a while, take in what life has to offer, then come back energized.
It's certainly worked for Williams to not allow her life to revolve around tennis. I'm pretty sure it works for writing as well.