Be the Ball


I'm delaying the WRiTE CLUB quarter-final round for a couple of days because I have something I need to say as a result of the ORIGINS blogfest last week. 

I’m into sports.  I’ve played them and coached them at a very high level, but now I’m just an avid fan (mostly college).  Something continually stressed when learning a sport is a concept of visualization.  Whatever it is you’re trying to master…laying down a bunt, perfecting your soccer dribble, or mastering a two-handed backhand… you have to visualize doing it first.  In your mind’s eye, if you can see yourself performing the activity, then you should be able to do it for real.  Pretty simple stuff, right?

Back when I was coaching and I brought up this concept to my kids, I always linked it to the movie CADDYSHACK.  Remember the part of the movie where Chevy Chase is tutoring the young caddy on how to drive the golf ball a long way and he tells him to, “be the ball”?  Yeah, it’s funny and the kids can relate to it, but I use that to make a point.  When it comes to imagining doing something…and doing it flawlessly…you have to be focused and 100 % willing to give it your all.  Every single detail matters!

When it comes to our writing, the same concept applies.  How many of you have taken a picture like the one above?  Come on, don’t be shy.  Raise those hands up.  Yes, it’s a picture taken at my local Barnes & Noble of the space on the shelf (in the mystery section) where my book will someday reside.  If you haven’t taken that picture yet, do it this weekend!  Be the ball!

This is a picture of my feet, and more specifically the shoes on my feet.  They were a Christmas gift given to me by my wife, a very special gift.  Those of you who have read my book know their significance, but for the rest of you just know that they play a profound part in my book FALLEN KNIGHT.  I can now wear a personification of my dream.  Be the ball!

This is a book cover mock-up a friend did for me.  I’m not sure it’ll work because it gives off too much of a YA feel and it’s really an adult mystery/thriller, but you get the idea.  Looking at this makes me feel like one day a real version will exist.  Be the ball!

Heeding a recent commenter's suggestion, I've removed the word aspiring from the description of myself on my blog.  I've also committed to establishing a specialized  author page on Facebook and I'm going to have someone (winking at Tiana) help me turn my blog into an actual web page.  Be  the ball!

I read 215+ ORIGIN’s last week, and something I picked up on is that although most everyone could remember where they started, very few had a good handle on where they were going.  My advice to any of you who see yourself in that boat…visualize the destination!  I don’t mean daydream about what it would be like to have published a book…I mean see it specifically.  Take that book shelf picture and make it your background on your monitor and/or smart phone.  Find a picture of an author at a book signing and super-impose your face over theirs.  Whatever it takes.  See it…then be it!

Be the ball!

What are you doing to visualize your goal?

44 comments

  1. Love, love, LOVE this post!! I think for me that I use the word aspiring and I only daydream about my book being on the shelves as a way of protecting myself...you know, just incase it doesn't happen. But, you're right- "be the ball." Oh, and Caddyshack- classic!

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  2. Great post, Don!

    And as a fellow "Caddyshack" lover, I definitely enjoyed it.

    But don't over-fixate about the visualization, and the goal, and the end of your desires. To also quote Ty Webb:

    "Don't be obsessed with your desires, Danny. The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.'"

    Plus: Kick-ass shoes -- and not just because of how they fit into the plot of FK. ;^)

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  3. I love it!!! I'm going to do a post just like this one. Just keep picturing a table right in front for your books. Nothing wrong with knowing where you want to go, especially if you remember to enjoy the ride.

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  4. Great post! It is WAY too easy to get caught up in the steps along the path and forget your intended destination.

    I felt overwhelmed when I sat down Saturday morning to begin what seemed like a monumental amount of revising and editing with a deadline 6 weeks hence. I had to remind myself this is NOT a "revise and resubmit" situation. I've had my share of those, and not always with a successful outcome -- which is why my body was reacting to the situation with anxiety. I had to tell myself: "This is THE BOOK. This is WHAT YOU WANTED TO HAPPEN."

    My head is now more joyous about the task and my body is catching on. This shouldn't be stressful. This should be exulting! Be the ball, indeed!

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  5. I guess I visualized the book while I was writing. Visualized the words 'the end' as well!

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  6. Awesome awesome awesome post, DL! Exactly what I needed to hear. I've never done that picture thing, though. Gotta get to my bookstore this week and take that photo!

    Btw, I LOVE the shoes. Orange is my favorite color and those shoes rock!

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  7. Love it! I'm not very good at visualizing - gotta work on that. Be the ball! :)

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  8. *winking back* You just let me know when you're ready and have some ideas about what you want it to look like :)

    I like the idea of seeing where your book will be on shelves - I'm going to do that the next time I hit up the library!

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  9. Thanks Don. I'm working on that plaque.

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  10. Perfect words for a Monday morning, and just what I needed to hear. After being on vacation for ten days, I was having a tough time getting back into writing. I feel a bit more motivated now. Maybe I need a little picture therapy myself today. :)

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  11. Duuuude... I loved this. I felt your energy and got all inspired inside ;) Love the shoes, so happy for your writing, and it's fun to read more about you, D.L. :D

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  12. I envision myself holding the book, with my name on the cover.

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  13. As always, you're such a positive force in the ocean of turbulence that us writers are trying to swim through.

    How's that for mixed metaphors? :-)

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  14. Follow-up comment:

    I re-read my earlier comment above, and I think it came off too smart-ass -- I was too busy going for a laugh.

    So let me say in all seriousness, that I agree with much of what you say DL. Having a concrete goal is the first step in achieving in. Thinks like "I hope I'll become a writer", or "maybe I'll get published some day" are too common. Like DL said, removing the 'aspiring' is an important mental shift.

    If you write, you ARE a writer.

    Still... There's nothing at all wrong with enjoying the process. Write because you enjoy the act of creating -- putting words on the page and bringing a story to life. That can be reward in itself.

    If you will only consider yourself 'successful' by getting that book published, then you risk becoming overly focused on a goal that in many ways depends on many things out of your own control.

    Enjoy the act of writing. Work to create the best pieces you can, and strive to make each piece a little better than the last. Enjoy that process of improvement. Write, submit, and move on -- resubmit after rejection and continue to create more in the meantime.

    But don't get so wrapped up in an arbitrary destination that you forget to enjoy the ride along the way. Especially when how far away that destination is can be so out of your control.

    That's my two cents...

    And thanks again to DL for a great, thought-provoking post. And I -- like many others, I'm sure -- have ALREADY enjoyed "Fallen Knight." Know that your words have given enjoyment to people even if they never get 'published' in the traditional way (although I know it will).

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  15. Visualization is a great tool, DL. Enjoyed your post.

    This technique can be used for many things. I use it for my scenes and dialogue. It helps a bit in my golfing, too.

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  16. Great article, Don. I can see how you were a coach.

    Actually, what you say is very true. Visualization has always been important to me and I've successfully been the ball in many places in my life.

    As for my writing, it's always been when and never IF. I'm a writer. I tell stories. Simple.

    I'm looking forward to reading your thriller, Don. I h ave a penchant for reading good ones.

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  17. This is great advice, DL! I've been visualizing my own cover as well. And I LOVE those shoes, by the way. I had a pair of magenta Chuck Taylors that I adored.

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  18. I'm taking your words to heart and doing this. I've always dreamt that big - had visuals of covers and all, but never really drew them out, took pictures. And no, I do not yet have a pic of the bookshelf.

    I love this post. Thank you for writing it, sharing it. I think I may work on some cover art. I can already see it as being inspiring.

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  19. You're right, of course, and you expressed the concept so well. Maybe it's because of my age, but I've gotten to the point where I'm more fixated on enjoying the journey. Maybe I need to give more thought to the destination. (And though I'm not a spring chicken, I'm not talking about that deep fat fryer in the sky ... I'm talking about that spot on the bookshelf for MY book!) Thanks for the nudge.

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  20. Chris & Susan ~ absolutely! There is nothing wrong with enjoying the journey! But for some of us (which I'm one) we need goals to strive for, a purpose for why we write, or else we languish in that journey. Seeing that book on the shelf motivates me to continually improve and withstand the rejections. :)

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  21. Alright, so here we go, "Be the ball, be the ball, be the writer, be the writer, I am the writer, I am the writer, I am an author."

    I think I can do that :-)

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  22. You rock! I love it and love that you are going for it. I need to hang this post up and read it every day. A friend of mine told me years ago, there are those people that talk about it and those that DO IT. LOVE those converse too!

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  23. I see your book on the shelf already. What? Not there? Someone must have picked it up and taken it to the checkout desk.

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  24. Great post! It reminded me of "The Secret" (book,movie,etc) and Runaway Bride had a "Be the Ball" reference too. Always a great reminder:)

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  25. You are so motivating! I always feel I can accomplish tons after leaving your blog. BOO-YAH! BE THE BALL!!

    Now off to take a picture at B&N.
    Catherine Denton

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  26. Excellent advice, and thanks for sharing how the blogfest affected you.

    I continue to work on my short stories to build an author presence in the publishing world, to continue to edit and submit my womens fiction trilogy and a couple other novels in progress.

    I know I had to see SOMETHING published in order to visualize my goal as a novelist. One small step at a time for me.

    I love your book cover, and the fact that it is and adult-thriller novel. Not enough of those being published now.

    Those shoes are cool, though I'm sure your kids won't let you out in public with them :) Still, the motivation is the important thing. Hopefully the shoes will have a special place on the bookshelf, right next to the published novel.

    See why print books are so much better than electronically produced versions . .

    .......dhole

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  27. Great post. I for sure know where I want to go as a writer. But I love your specific visualization ideas. I'll have to take a pic of my spot on the shelf soon!

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  28. This is a great post! For me ... I'm not very visual at all, and I also tend to be very process-oriented. I've focused on improving constantly and working really intensely, and that's what I'll continue to do. But I've always been very goal-directed, too, so I understand what you're saying! It sounds like you're taking a lot of positive steps that will help you achieve your goals. I love those shoes, btw!

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  29. Hey DL,

    Right on, brother. Right *on!*

    If you *we* don't believe in ourselves as writers, why should anyone else.

    Be the ball - and bounce over th BS :)

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  30. DL, your posts are so inspiring! I can't wait to buy your book off that shelf and make an empty space someday!

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  31. Great advice! I haven't done any of those things. I think I'll start with the B&N photo, and making it in a background is an excellent idea!

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  32. Good for you DL! I haven't taken a picture of where my book might be. I guess I'll have to do that. :)

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  33. What an inspiring post, DL! I love that cover! I've never taken a picture of where my book would be...but I did finally, about 6 months ago, take the "aspiring" or "wanna-be" out of my title and left it at author. I love this post. Seriously. Gotta star it on my Reader as a great reminder. Thanks!

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  34. Awesome post, DL. I've had many things come true in my life because I visualized it first by faith. My writing dreams are no different, though it is taking a lot longer than I'd envisioned! But at least it's happening.

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  35. I'm a visualizer, and it works.

    Be the ball!

    I'm glad I stopped by to read this inspiring post.

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  36. Yea Tiana! And yea for you, too! I think this is awesome and everything you should be doing. So where's the link to your facebook page so we can all like it? ;)

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  37. Oh goody, now I don't have to feel guilty about putting together all those mock covers & book trailer scripts when I'm in need of a diversion. ;)

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  38. Oh, I like that! I know just where my book would (WILL) be. I'll have to wrangle a trip to B&N.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  39. Wow, I love this post! Visualizing your dream is the first step to make it a reality.

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  40. "Be the ball" really is inspiring! What a great book cover mock-up to bring you closer to your goals! You are a terrific motivator, and I appreciate your positive energy! Julie

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  41. Those are awesome shoes! Thanks for the pep talk, Don!

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  42. Brilliant post! And a great motivator to be on the ball. I do find mock cover art to be inspiring. I haven't thought about taking a picture where my book would be. That's a great idea.

    Love the orange shoes too. :)

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  43. Oh this is too cool! I love that you took a picture of where your book would be! Lately I haven't gone that far, but I have been fantasizing about being done with my book. And just the joy of being done. And that really helps! Maybe I'll check out the fantasy section next time I'm at the bookstore!

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