If You Want To Succeed in Writing, You’ve Got to Play Ball!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Y’all know how much I like my sports, right? And with April comes baseball, which I’ve followed since I was a little girl watching on a 20 inch, black and white TV. I even played baseball with my three brothers and the neighborhood kids in the road next to my house. Every time a car came, we’d scramble to make the play before running to the side of the road to glare at the driver who had the nerve to interrupt our game.

Good times, for sure. But I recently came across this quote from Francis T. Vincent, Commissioner of Baseball (1989-92) and I realized that baseball was more than good times for me. It was downright instructional:

“Baseball teaches us, or has taught most of us, how to deal with failure. We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in baseball and, precisely because we have failed, we hold in high regard those who fail less often – those who hit safely in one out of three chances and become star players. I also find it fascinating that baseball, alone in sport, considers errors to be part of the game, part of its rigorous truth.”

Think about it. A star hitter in the Major Leagues may bat .325. That means he only gets a hit 30% of the time; he fails 70% of the time! And what’s more, baseball keeps track of every error in every game. You might want to forget dropping the ball, making a wild throw, or missing the base, but that error is always there. Like Vincent said, the truth is in the stats forever. It sort of keeps one humble, doesn’t it?

So the moment I read that quote, I knew I’d share it with you. Because of course, baseball and writing are pretty darn similar, starting with the lingo:

When we want to sell an article or get an agent to sign us, we make a pitch.

If we want to succeed, we understand it’s a numbers game. We know that we have to throw lots of pitches out into the world for that one successful hit.

And failure is basically the norm when it comes to writing, too. Gosh, I’ve failed way more than I’ve succeeded! Any writer who’s managed to get a body of work published has racked up a ton of rejections.

Speaking of which, we hold on to those rejections. It’s our statistic of honor, proof that we’ve put ourselves out there. And when we succeed, we can look back on those rejections with a Ha! Take that, you lousy rejections! But deep down, we know: those rejections are our part of a writer’s truth. Without the rejections, there would be no success, and that’s mighty humbling.

So thank you, baseball, for getting me prepared for a writing career. It’s nice to know I haven’t wasted my time, enjoying one of my favorite sports. And it's not too late for you. Play ball, friends, and keep writing!

Cathy C. Hall will happily sit in the stands on the hottest day of the summer and cheer on her Atlanta Braves. She doesn't get much writing done once baseball season starts and wonders if there's a connection...


Joanne said...

Great analogy!

Pat Wahler said...

I once heard a sermon based on this, and it certainly does change one's perspective!


Renee Roberson said...

Love this analogy, Cathy. I have to say I'm glad my rejection stats don't need to be listed on my resume!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Glad y'all like it! And yep, Renee, I'm SO glad about that, too! :-)

Linda O'Connell said...

Your inspirational and motivational piece made me nod. I do NOT hold on to rejections, I pitch negativity into the trash. Now, I am off to write, thanks to you.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

This is brilliant and must be shared. So I went from your blog to The Muffin and now I'm off to Facebook and TWitter to spread your words. I guess that makes me a "utility player." :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yay, Lisa, it does indeed! (And thanks!)

Sioux Roslawski said...


One, that new photo is a homerun. You look maaaaahvelous.

Two, thanks for this post. Because of your encouragement and positive outlook, we never feel like we're stuck in the dug-out for very long.

Third, if we keep swinging, eventually we'll get a hit.

(That is the end of my baseball knowledge.)

Debra Mayhew said...

I've never thought of baseball this way before, but you're right. Failure is a big part of it. I've felt this way about writing for a long time though. :) It stings to be rejected but it helps to know every writer goes through it. And it helps to have a tribe of writers out there who get it and support you...So thank you, Cathy! I needed this reminder to keep plugging away and to remember that even rejections can be good because they mean I'm putting myself out there!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great analogy, Cathy! You've encouraged me to keep pitching, and as an editor, to keep catching.

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