Writing Advice from an Avid Football Fan

Today’s writing advice comes to us from
Fine Lines friend Jennifer Lovett Herbranson a loyal ‘Bama Fan.

Born into the Lessons

I was raised down South by a strong Southern woman who felt every challenge was an opportunity for character growth, and she lived by the mantra, “Hardwork gets you what you want.” In Alabama, football is like a religion and coaches are like gods. University of Alabama legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant is one of them. My father played for him in the mid-1960s and raised us on Coach Bryant’s life lessons. Combined with my mother’s strong will, Alabama football lessons taught us everything we needed to be successful in life.

I’m also a serial procrastinator

I find nothing compelling about doing something early. But give me hard deadlines and 24 to 48 hours out, I’m on fire. Recently, though, I’ve noticed something troubling among writers I’ve met. They are dissatisfied with their writing lives. They can’t find enough time in the day or they can’t wrap their heads around their ideas or they have no idea how the business runs.

If you want to be a writer, you have to accept that it is not easy. But then again, when it’s hard, it’s worth it. So get on up, dust yourself off, grab whatever tool you need to succeed and get to work. You know you want to do this and you know you can succeed. Here are three ways to help you:

 #1 Excuses don’t burn calories.

Coach Bryant used to say, “I ain’t never been nothing but a winner.” Be a winner.

While you aren’t burning calories with your excuses, you are burning effort that could be expended on your book. Quit worrying about all the contradictory advice you get at writers conferences or from writer friends or from editors, agents and publishers. A book creates its own genius and someone out there will love your genius.

Provide yourself the opposite of excuses: permanent reasons to finish your writing. I love to write. I love the finished product. I love it in particular when I finish a product I know is good. Writers write for a million reasons. List yours.

#2 There are only 60 minutes in a ballgame.

Coach Bryant also used to say, “We didn’t lose. We just ran out of time.”

You won’t lose either. You will win because you know relentless forward progress is all that matters. If you think you don’t have enough time in your day, think again. You must be a time manager that makes every minute count. If you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Period. Sleep less. Facebook less. Let the laundry sit. Have the kids dust. Do whatever it takes to carve out the time you need to write and still live your life.

There are only 60 minutes in your writing ballgame. Make them all count. Create a spreadsheet with every half hour of the day. Write what you do with those half hours in the blanks. Find your writing time.

#3 Quarterback is team captain.

Leadership and belief in yourself was absolutely key to Coach Bryant’s phenomenal ability to coach great football teams. He said, “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards. “

You are the quarterback of your project, the leader. You need to be the boss. Is anyone going to care if you don’t get your book written? Unless you have an agent or editor breathing down your neck, the answer is no. But you do. You care. So care enough to give yourself deadlines, sticks, carrots, whatever. Manage the game so you win. Plot, plan, decide and act. Then review, renew and repeat.

Make sure the next book goes smoother than the previous one. Write your strengths and weaknesses down. Capitalize on the strengths and cultivate weaknesses into tools. But you have to recognize them first. Writing will get easier with each new project.

I’ll leave you with this quote because I think it sums up our writing lives perfectly.

“Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” – Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.


Jennifer Lovett Herbranson’s current project is a fiction military romance series. She is also a US Air Force veteran with 13 years combined active duty and reserve time and married to a wonderful US Air Force officer. We are delighted she made time to write this blog between her reserve duties and full-time career with the  Defense Logistics Agency. Write On!


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