How to Become an Author
Understanding the Intangibles
One of the things that always fascinated me during my baseball days was how easy certain athletes made their fielding gems look.
Roberto Alomar and Omar Vizquel made turning the double-play look so simple during my tenure with Cleveland. I recall one spring training when we filmed a commercial with the two of them behaving like ballet dancers at their positions. It was very funny, but also quite to the point. Their grace at second base and shortstop was truly lyrical. And, every now and then, there were those other times when they would do something mind-boggling–I would almost forget to clap as my brain tried to process what I had just seen.
I think the best authors inspire this too. They write with such grace that the average reader has no trouble breezing through their work, while at the same time oohing and ahhing at a turn of phrase here or there. (And then there’s that moment when you stop and re-read a sentence over and over for its wisdom, hoping to sink it into your psyche forever.) It’s quite beautiful when an author can make you laugh and cry between the covers of the same story.
I have no doubt that there are people who are as naturally gifted at writing as certain athletes are at playing their sport. The challenge is to know if you or someone in your life has this gift and how to nurture it. Just like in sports, there are certain intangibles that you want to look for as coming naturally. Baseball scouts call these tools. They look for speed, agility, heads-up thinking, etc. The body of the athlete also plays a huge role.
One year, when I was at spring training, I was working in the lunchroom where the ophthalmologist was giving players eye exams on Physicals Day. Naturally, when each guy was done he would ask the doctor what his vision measurement was. I was shocked by how many hitters had 20:10 vision (the 10 being in the eye closest to the pitcher). It made me wonder, “were they born that way or did they develop that vision?” We all know, after all, that practice can make you better at whatever you do!
So here are my top 5 intangibles/tangibles that help make an author:
- Has an inquisitive mind by nature
- Enjoys getting inside people’s heads to learn how to relate to them
- Has a strategic vision for the connectedness between people, events, nature, cultures, timing, etc.
- Is extremely disciplined by nature/self-motivated
- Is the type of person who does not give up easily
- Loves to curl up with a book
- Loves to write
- When given vague criticism, is able to ask a series of questions that drill down to the heart of the problem
- Can edit their own work/wordsmith/cut scenes, etc.
- Can give over their work for editing
The Gathering at Keystone College is a favorite writers workshop of mine. Becoming an author takes a lot of effort, and they can help you get there.