Even when he’d reached the top of his field, playing for the Celtics. Larry Bird’s daily training program was legendary: a long-distance run, practice games with his teammates, sit-up sessions, and short-distance runs – all of which were sandwiched in between demanding shooting drills.
Veterans and rookies alike admired and marveled at Larry’s commitment to practice. Although he was in top physical condition, he still showed up hours earlier than anyone else so he could work on every facet of his technique. With only a few attendants and season ticket holders watching, he once took 300 practice shots before a big game. No wonder he was called the “Parquet Picasso!”
Larry’s intense practice reflected his desire to excel as well as his love of basketball. He once observed: “That’s the number one thing, the desire…. I don’t think you can teach desire. I don’t know why I have it, but I do.”
What inspiration we as writers can take from Larry’s desire to perform to his full potential and from his intense commitment to practice! With constant and continuous practice, he made constant and continuous improvement. And the same can be true for us.
What can we learn from Larry Bird’s work ethic? A lot, to my mind. First, we can commit to reaching a level of excellence in our chosen field, just as he did. Second, we can come up with a daily regimen that’s both demanding and designed to strengthen our skills at everything from plotting to penning dialogue. Then there’s the physical conditioning he did to keep his energy high and his mental alertness at its peak. As writers, we too need to exercise so that we can bring energy and mental clarity to our work.
There’s so much we can learn from watching an artist in fields outside our own fuel their creativity — whether it’s the “Parquet Picasso” or the gifted hands of a top surgeon. Everyone who excels has something to teach us. Write on.