Motivation… and Ray Lewis?

Okay, before I get started today, I want to preface this by stating that this is NOT only about sports. Okay? Yes, a major part of this involves a sports figure, but it is also in relation to writing, which is what I do–or at least try to do.

Got it?


Now, onto the post…

I love sports. No, that doesn’t quite say what I want it to say. Let me see if I can make you understand: I LOVE SPORTS! Okay, do you understand? I can watch sports at any time of the day. As a matter of fact, I’ll be watching the Detroit Redwings in a hockey game at ten tonight and plan on sitting through the entire game. Yeah, I love the Wings. But, that’s not the point.

The point is this man:

That would be number 52, Ray Lewis. Not the guy getting laid out.

What’s so special about Ray Lewis and how can I relate him to writing? That’s an easy one:

Just in case you missed it: What time is it? Game time. What time is it? Game time. Do you see what Lewis does before every Baltimore Ravens football game? For those of you who don’t get it, he motivates his team, not only by running his mouth and pushing his players around during the pregame, but also during the game with his play, you know, like the one above where Dustin Keller got jacked up.

His teammates love him… and fear him. I would as well. Ray Lewis doesn’t let you slack off on any play and it doesn’t sit well with him when you do. He is one of the main reasons the Baltimore defense has been rock solid over the last decade.

Enough about that, let’s focus on what he is really good at: motivating those around him. When a player joins the Ravens, they go to the Ray Lewis School of Hard Knocks. In other words, Ray lets them know what HE expects of them. You do good, Ray lets you know. You don’t do good… yeah, let’s not discuss that here.

Now, what does this have to do with writing?

Writing is a goal driven type of thing. So are sports. We set goals for ourselves and we strive to reach them. The same thing with sports. The road is bumpy and hard and a lot of times we get discouraged. Sounds like an athlete to me. What I like about Ray Lewis is that he doesn’t allow his teammates to get too down on themselves. He motivates them to try harder and to not give up. He’s like a drill sergeant with some of his in game chatter and yelling. That’s not a negative thing. Why? Because his teammates respond to him.

As a writer, sometimes I need a motivator, someone who is going to tell me if I want to succeed I need to try harder, to study more, and to create better stories. Sometimes I need someone to say, ‘hey, damn good story you wrote.’ Other times I need someone to yell, “This is war and they’re the enemy.” (In the writing world, it’s very much like a war with how fierce the competition is for the few paying gigs out there.) And who better than to get me fired up than someone like Ray Lewis?

If I played for the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis said, “Run through that brick wall. You can do it. Run through that brick wall.” You know what? I would try to run through that brick wall. I would believe I could run through it. And guess what? If I didn’t succeed and I landed on my butt after crashing into that brick wall, Ray Lewis could yell at me, “Get up, boy. Try again. Run through that brick wall. Run through it. Go. Go. Run through that brick wall.” I would get up and, damn it, I would run through that brick wall.

I would probably have a headache or a couple of broken bones afterward, but when I get motivated, I go through brick walls.

I want Ray Lewis to motivate me to write. I think if he could teach me the Ray Lewis dance and yell that it’s publishing time over and over, I would get pumped.

What time is it? Publishing time? What time is it? Publishing time.

Heck, I’m getting pumped just thinking about it.

Some of you are thinking: Ray Lewis scares you. That’s okay. Fear can make you a better person and who better to help you overcome that fear than Mr. Lewis, himself?

Sigh. I know Ray Lewis will never be like a writing coach to me and I can accept that. It was just a thought anyway, and really not even the main focus of this piece. The main focus is motivation.

It’s not enough to want to be a writer. It’s not enough to want to be a good or a great writer. It’s not enough to want to get published. It’s just not enough. The desire may be there and that may be all the motivation some folks need. But, when things aren’t going right and rejections are coming in a lot more often than acceptances, where’s the motivation come from?

Motivation doesn’t come just in an exceptional athlete yelling at his teammates. It comes in the form of having a story accepted somewhere (that’s always a start). Or maybe it’s in having someone tell you that you’re on the right track, but you need to work harder. It could possibly be someone who, like earlier this week for me, tells you they love your work and would like to read more. Talk about a confidence boost.

Or maybe that motivation could come from your significant other. My biggest supporter is my lovely wife, Catherine. There have been times over the last six years where I wanted to stop writing and even questioned myself about it. Catherine has been there each time to keep me going, keep that fire burning, so to speak. Without her constant encouragement, I would have quit a LONG time ago.

Just recently, in an online forum, someone mentioned how a woman’s fiancé didn’t support her writing. That saddened me. Then another individual, who I have been working with, made a similar assessment, stating something along the lines of, how could what she wrote interest someone. Of course, I’m taking her statement out of context, but it bothered me.

What if my wife said to me, “A.J., nobody will read this. Why would it interest anyone?” It would be a major smack down and would probably discourage me for a while. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened.

Having my wife’s support in my writing endeavors, no matter how much I succeed or how bad I may fail, is probably the most important thing for my writing ‘career.’ Because of her I want to improve on a daily basis. She is, without a doubt, my best motivator.

If you are a writer, I hope your significant other supports you. If you are the significant other of a writer, please encourage him/her–writing is tough and it’s a roller coaster ride that rarely slows down, much less stops. We need your support. We need your encouragement. We need you to yell at us from time to time and tell us it’s Publishing Time.

I may never have Ray Lewis as a writing motivator, but I have the next best thing: a wife who supports what I want to do. Okay, flip that. Ray Lewis, as much as I like him, is second fiddle to my wife supporting me. Sorry, Ray… Please don’t hurt me or hit me like any of these guys:

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