For those of you that don’t know, my sport is target shooting. I shoot air rifle in structured shooting competitions. I don’t shoot live things, apart from the badly injured rat my cat dragged in one night.
Sometimes writing is like shooting – you have to keep on doing it to win. So, the lessons from shooting that I can apply to my writing:
You only need to hit more targets than your nearest rival to win. You don’t have to hit 100% of the targets to win, you just have to hit more than your competition. You could hit 50% of the targets but if your rival hits 45% of the targets you still win. Hitting 100% of the targets or gaining a perfect score in shooting is almost impossible, not totally impossible but almost impossible. So if you hit more targets than your opponent, then you are going to win. In writing, if you gain 25% of the readers in your genre and another author writing in the same genre gains 20% of the readers, you win.
Hard work pays off
So often at the range, we see people turn up, full of enthusiasm, bright shiny rifle in hand, wanting to take some shots. We shoot competitions, we don’t ‘plink’ but we allow them to sight in, get comfortable with the handling of the rifle, give them a low-down on the range rules and after a certain time they’re on their own. We never see them again. Why? Because they realize that hitting targets is hard work. There are so many variables that affect your shots: your stance, the weather, the course, your mood on the day. Hitting and obtaining good scores is hard work. You have to turn up religiously, in good weather and bad, no matter what mood you’re in, just turn up, shoot, good or bad, put it down to experience, go away and then come back again. Eventually it gets easier, you hit more than you miss, you start coming third, second and then the marvelous day you come first! You did it, but then you have to come back and do it again. When you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go and that’s down unless you work hard to stay at the top.
Its the same with writing books – it’s hard work, you have to keep coming back to your latest project, you have to keep having another go, you have to start hitting more than you miss but there is no fast track way to becoming a successful writer, just as there is no way to fast track becoming a successful shooter. Practice, practice, practice and just get out to the shooting range (in this case computer, tablet, pen and paper, whatever) and just do it!