Thursday, November 3, 2016

5 Things Writers Can Learn From the Chicago Cubs

So unless you have been living under a rock, you now know that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night! As a Cubs fan, it's been a long time coming. Watching the game last night was so hard as the Indians battled back to tie the game. When we won there was such a sense of relief and elation. After the initial celebration was over, I got to thinking about what writers such as myself could learn from this fantastic team.

1. Perseverance pays off.

After 108 years without a World Series victory, I think it's pretty safe to say that the Cubs are a model of perseverance. As writers it can be hard to spend all your time crafting characters and plots, weaving them into stories, and then getting rejections when you decide it's time to submit.

But if you persevere, good things will eventually come your way. Work hard no matter how long it takes. Know that there will be low, lean times when all hope seems lost, but in the end that will make your victory that much more amazing.

2. Believe in yourself, fans will follow.

The Cubs arguably have the most loyal fans in baseball, maybe in any sport. Cubs fans love the team no matter how they do, and they have the mentality of looking toward the future and not letting a little thing like failure get in the way of the ultimate goal (which has now been fulfilled!)

As a writer, even after your book has been published, it can feel like the slowest, most excruciating thing as you wait for people to read and review your book. I think what the Cubs teach us here is that if you believe in yourself and what you are doing, your fans will come, be loyal, and even if they don't love every single thing you put out, they'll still follow you.

3. Editing is essential, and sometimes takes a long time.

The Cubs have spent years building the team they have right now, through trades and draft picks. They have strategized and made tough decisions. I'm sure they've had to let valued players go in order to make the Cubs what they are right now, the strongest possible team they could be going into the 2016 season so they could attain the ultimate goal of winning the World Series.

Like the Cubs, sometimes we have to make tough decisions with our stories and let things go that don't work, even if we value the character or the plot point. The other thing to remember is that editing makes the story better, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. The ultimate goal is to have the story be the strongest it can be before publishing it.

4. Every player has a story.

If you watched the World Series, even if you aren't normally a Cubs fan, you probably got to know the players pretty well. And you probably even had some favorites. (My personal favorites are Arrieta and Baez, but the whole team is amazing.)

You probably saw Aroldis Chapman getting exhausted and emotional as he fought to keep the Indians from getting any hits, and how terrible he felt when he failed.

Or maybe you watched the elation on Kris Bryant's face as he threw the ball for the last out, slipping in the grass and popping right back up.

Or maybe you watched Joe Madden watch the game, making tough decisions.

Or maybe your thing is more the celebrities that came out for the games. Bill Murray, Eddie Vedder, Vince Vaughn. 

Or maybe you were drawn to the fans who came out and cheered their hearts out for their team.

All those people had stories to tell that told the story of Game Seven of the World Series, and each story, no matter how small, was essential to the whole.

As writers we need to remember to pay attention to all the characters, from the main characters to the minor ones. They all need to be three dimensional and have their stories told in order for the whole story to be right.

5. Amp up the drama, it makes for a good story.

If you watched Game Seven, then you know what I'm talking about. There was good baseball and high drama. Moments when the Cubs looked like they had lost it all, only to fight their way back and take the whole thing.

Our stories need moments like that to draw the reader along with the characters.

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs!

They're singing "Go, Cubs, Go. Go, Cubs, Go. Hey Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are going to win today!"

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