What Writers Can Learn from the X Games

One of my favorite parts of this year’s Winter Olympics was the X Games sports — the crazy skiing and the snowboarding, with all the huge jumps and the flips and the Half Nelsons. Oh, wait. That’s wrestling. Well, okay, so I don’t know the terminology, but it was fun to watch.

I liked it for more than the stunts, though. In fact, one of the things I liked best about it was what happened after each athlete competed. In those sports more than any others, teammates seemed to cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s victories. Heck, even their biggest competitors from the other teams seemed genuinely stoked (ha!) whenever one of them would perform a particularly tough jump or finish a strong, clean run.

I loved seeing those world-class athletes, the top individuals in their sports, support each other and celebrate their successes. I would venture to guess that sense of excitement and camaraderie is one of the reasons those games have become so wildly popular in recent years.

If only the writing community would follow suit.

Too often, writers seem to feel the need to tear each other down — to label each other and even call on other (highly successful, mind you) authors to stop writing. This is nothing new. It’s been going on for years.

The worst part is, there’s no reason for it. Publishing is not a zero-sum game. There is no need to divide and conquer. Authors aren’t competing for the one-and-only gold medal. They’re competing for readers, and there are millions of them out there, all with different tastes. The more variety we have to offer, the better.

We should all be working together to develop each other as writers — to encourage each other to improve our craft and to find good homes for our work. By doing this, we will ultimately be helping to develop more readers. And readers are the one thing we cannot do without.

Now, lest this post leave anyone thinking authors are all a bunch of selfish jerks, I should point out that there are many, many folks out there who are incredibly supportive of their fellow writers. And I’d like to recognize a few of them here. Go check out these websites and blogs by these wonderful and very generous writers:

Brenda Drake
Erica Chapman
Dahlia Adler
Christi Corbett
Jessica Martinez
Sandy Green
Cassie Mae
Val Patterson
Noreen Wald

These are just a handful of people who have been supportive of me personally, who have taken time out of their busy lives to offer advice or cheer me on or provide moral support. There are many others out there who are doing the same and building up their colleagues. They know writing is not about winning and losing, it’s about perfecting the run and expanding the fan base.