Friday Speak Out!: American Ninja Warriors Remind Me of Writers

Friday, September 20, 2019
by Denise Scott

Time to fess up. Is the TV show American Ninja Warrior (ANW) one of your secret guilty pleasures? NBC promotes it as a “high octane obstacle course competition.” My grandma used to watch TV wrestling from her rocker, cheering and grimacing as if she had a ringside seat at the event. That’s how I watch American Ninja Warrior.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, the personal narratives draw you in. Kenny Niemitalo’s little girl needed a kidney and a viewer donated one. Now Kenny helps other children find kidney donors. Jessie Graff has broken many records on the course and is a professional stuntwoman, appearing in movies such as Wonder Woman. Like ANW participants, writers have a purpose and a story to tell.

Ninjas practice in order to succeed. They don’t just sign up, qualify, and hit the course. They work out every day at the gym or in their backyard. The Eskimo Ninja leaps from iceberg to iceberg. To succeed, writers must practice their craft. Get on your desktop or laptop and begin! Turn your rough draft into a final draft and enter your work in a contest or submit it to a magazine or blog.

Writers, like ANW participants, compete—for online-publication space, for shelf space, or for first place in a contest. Not everyone wins the million-dollar prize or becomes a bestselling author. We pitch, we query, and we propose. It’s scary because we might fail. What if we don’t beat the wall or hit the buzzer?

Contestants face obstacles and so do we. How does one overcome writer’s block? One agent has a solution I can relate to, cry. After that, try writing prompts or a physical activity such as walking to stimulate your brain. How do you get back on the course after a rejection? My goal is to follow a recent tip. Submit to several places, not just one. Then if I receive a rejection, I still have hope that one of the other possibilities will produce results. More than one ninja has gotten stuck on one particular obstacle—the Jeep Run or the Double Dipper. Host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila has authored a book titled Everyone Can Be a Ninja: Find Your Inner Warrior and Achieve Your Dreams. So writers, find your inner warrior and persevere; there are no shortcuts.

Competitors are part of a community of ninjas who know what’s required, who understand the struggle, who support and celebrate with one another. If we’re not part of a community, we should be. They can be messy, but they’re healthy. My critique group corrects my mistakes, offers suggestions for improvement, shares expertise and resources, and encourages.

Ninjas celebrate incremental successes, moving past the onerous obstacle that repeatedly caused them to fall short. We may not always experience the success of hitting the buzzer, but when we do, like the ninjas, we thunder a primal scream of victory!

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Denise Scott’s Bio: Sadly, I am entertained by crime and talent shows and predictable romance movies. I like to read, teach, hike and do yardwork. Occasionally, with the nudge of friends, I step into an adventure such as zip lining or skydiving.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Margo Dill said...

Hi Denise:
I love how you used America Ninja Warriors to compare to the writing life. You are so right.

My daughter loves to watch those type of shows. We even have a gym here where people train for that type of competition (in St. Louis) and they have kids' classes, so she has gone on a Saturday morning to try one out before.

I will confess that I do get drawn in by the stories, too.

Thanks for your humorous and spot-on post!

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