Wow! I just finished watching the final game of the U.S. Open. Fantastic! I’m not generally a tennis fan, but my sister Stephanie and her husband Luis love to watch. This time around, Steph’s enthusiasm was infectious and I tuned in to see Rafael Nadel achieve a Grand Slam. Amazing game! Hard fought and hard won by Nadel. In reviewing the way the final played out, I found some inspiring takeaways for us as writers.
First, stay focused on the job at hand. During more than three hours of intense play, Nadel had his share of missed serves and shots, but he never seemed to lose his cool. He shook it off quickly and got right back into his game. His opponent, on the other hand, time and again became visibly upset when he wiped out. At one point, he actually pounded his racket into the ground and bent it. Instead of refocusing, he lost his concentration and had to fight with himself to regain it. When things aren’t going well on the page or when we encounter a major rejection, it’s easy to get discouraged and lose our focus. We need to learn to shake it off and get back into our game quickly and efficiently.
Second, let your frustration fuel your determination: When Nadel missed a shot hit by his opponent, he didn’t turn his frustration on himself — he used it to power up his next play. It simply re-energized him and made him even more combative and intent on winning back his advantage. His opponent, on the other hand, seemed to berate himself when he missed a shot — as a result, a lot of his energy was wasted instead of channeled into his game. As writers, we need to manage our energy, too: we can either misspend it or intensify our efforts when we hit an obstacle or a tough patch.
And finally, we need to hit hard every time. Nadel was absolutely relentless! He never eased up. He chased down every single ball as if it were a match point. He didn’t give anything away and left everything he had on the court. Inspiring!