Why Soccer is Like Writing…Or Vice-Versa

About a month ago, I got the idea that I should learn to appreciate the game of soccer.  We're more of a 
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rugby/football type family, so I'm not as familiar with soccer.  Lately, though, the Portland Timbers have been hawking season tickets and the thought appealed to me.  Wouldn't it be fun to go hang out at the stadium on summer evenings, drinking beer, and eating hot dogs and popcorn?  And, oh yeah, watching soccer?

When I mentioned this to my family, they chortled, pointing out that my attention span for soccer is about as long as it is for doing yard work.  Or painting.  Or listening to jazz on the car radio.  (Not that I have anything against jazz.  On the contrary, I love it.  I just don't want to listen to it in the car, because it is not driving music.)

After I got over being offended, I decided that I would learn to love soccer.  Conveniently, this was shortly before the World Cup began.

And so I procrastinated from working on my novel watched several of the games, grieving when Ghana lost, and cheering Spain on.  And, like Bucky the cat, I must admit that my campaign to enjoy soccer met with some reservations.

Chief among them is that soccer is, um, boring.

Or is it just me?  There are so many loooooong stretches when nothing much happens except for the ball being rolled back and forth.  Fas-ke-nating, as my father used to say.  Or not.

But as I settled in to watch the endless thrilling championship game yesterday, I realized that soccer and writing do share a similarity. 

In soccer, nothing happens, nothing happens, nothing happens, nothing happens, and then boom, something happens.

Writing can be the same way.  Say you're stuck on a chapter.  You think and think and think some more.  And nothing happens.  Then more nothing happens.  And so you think further and further, until, boom, finally something happens and you have a breakthrough.

Because here's the deal: all that time you spent thinking and thinking and not getting anywhere, you really were working hard.  Your brain was composting–deep down inside turning the gems of your wisdom over and creating new connections with them, until finally, up pops the brilliant idea you've been awaiting.

And apparently this happens in soccer, too, though I can't quite figure out how.

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3 Comments on "Why Soccer is Like Writing…Or Vice-Versa"

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David Paine
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I’m not afraid to join you and say this: soccer IS boring. It may only be the fact of my inner princess finally running loose, but I have simply given up trying to like soccer. The parallel with writing is interesting and matches my experience exactly – with one divergence. At a soccer game it looks to me like the fans are excited and screaming and jumping around the whole time. Boring and exhausting simultaneously. For me, writing is more like going to a baseball game. While you are sitting around waiting for something to happen – and those waits… Read more »
Jessica
Guest
I really like this post! 🙂 I think the important thing, both in writing and in soccer is ‘movement.’ From what I’ve seen of soccer (which is not much), it seems that when the players on one team begin to slow down and contemplate their motives for pounding back and forth, that’s when the other team scores. But if they’re constantly moving and looking for openings, they’ll eventually find one. Same with writing, there are days when we feel like we’re making no headway at all. If we start to contemplate our lack of progress, then we’ll definitely bung up… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Oh, David, I’m so glad to have a kindred spirit when it comes to soccer! I have to admit, though, that I’m not a huge baseball fan, either for the precise things you mention. However, add beer or gin into the mix and I might be persuaded to feel differently. If you ply me with bourbon or Cabernet I’ll watch anything.

Jessica, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. It is all about movement and movement comes from showing up, day in, day out.

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