Sometimes, you just need to swing.

The more I write, the more I find that writing is much like playing a sport (although I’ve played very few sports in my life). For example, before I started playing golf, it looked easy enough to make a ball go directly where you wanted. I didn’t give thought to the intricacies of measuring distance, the level of the ground, or my swings. Needless to say, when I started playing golf, I had more hooks, slices, and misses than I can count.

The same is true with writing. It seems easy enough for someone to put words on paper, but as any writer knows, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into getting it just right. And just as I still send balls in all directions in golf, my writing doesn’t always come across as effectively as I’d planned. But it would never get better if I didn’t keep at it.

In golf, I’ve watched others and have taken tips. I’ve done the same in writing. I’ve read books about writing and heeded tips from other writers. And while I’ve improved from the guidance, the most important reminder that I keep coming back to in golf and writing is to just swing. The results won’t always be pretty, but some of my best drives in golf are from my stepping up to the tee and swinging the club without a practice shot or fretting over stance. The skills become ingrained after playing a lot and learning the tips and tricks, but sometimes, it takes not focusing on the specifics and just driving the ball to let it happen.

I need to remind myself of this when I’m justifying my inability to write, and it’s one reason I’m trying to dedicate myself to my blog. And I need to remind my students that after all the rules and tips are taught to just swing. Great golfers consistently practice and can even mess up when it’s all on the line. I need this same mindset in writing; I need to just write.

1 thought on “Sometimes, you just need to swing.

  1. azumah (@azumahcarol)

    Many thanks for your response. I agree that we each of us have very different approaches to writing. One of the line of thought I have worked within over the years is teaching academic literacy as social practice rather than skills. I think it is quite easy to isolate atomised skills and simply ignore or sideline what has to be the most important aspect of the writing enterprise – establishing your own style, stance, approach – or as your golfing metaphor suggest your own ‘swing’. The ‘swing’ that you refer to as part f the golfing analogy also reminds me of the advice offered to teachers of writing, or offered by teachers of writing to students. That actually the best way to learn how to write is to write. There is very little to be gained from silting and studying abstract tips and techniques. With writing – it has to be learning by doing.


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