5 Valuable Insights About Freelance Writing I Found at a Track Meet - Make a Living Writing

5 Valuable Insights About Freelance Writing I Found at a Track Meet

Carol Tice | 13 Comments

Inspiration for improving your freelance writing business can often be found in your own life experiences.

For instance, where I live, summer means concerts in the park, walks on the beach…and all-comer’s track meets.

That’s right, people of all ages come out and run races at the high school track — short ones, long ones, hurdles, relays. The evening begins with the 100-yard dash for ages 3 and under.

If you’ve never seen 3-year-olds run a race…it’s beautiful.

Watching my 9-year-old daughter win four different races in an evening…I’m doubtful life will get much better.

The track meets also remind me so much of the freelance writing life. Here are five key insights I took away from a recent meet:

  1. Focus on what you’re doing. Ever notice what happens when a kid starts worrying about what’s happening with the other runners on the track? They start to look around them to see who is maybe coming to catch them — and immediately slow down. To go your fastest, you have to tune out the competition and just run your best race. Put on the blinders, fix your gaze on that finish line, and give it all you got. Then, no matter where you place, you know you did the best you could.
  2. Sometimes there will be hurdles. The track isn’t always empty. Sometimes you’ll encounter an obstacle and have to vault over it. That may slow you down a little — or a lot. You may be scared to take the leap. But you can’t get where you want to go unless you muster your courage and hoist yourself over them.
  3. When you fall, the only thing to do is get back up. Nobody loves the coward who crawls off the track mid-race because they’ve tripped up and can’t face the embarrassment. But the crowd will be on their feet cheering if you show you’ve got the character to carry on despite your setbacks. Everybody loves a comeback story.
  4. Competition pushes you to excel. We all know we run slower by ourselves, and faster with a dozen other runners on our heels. Get to know the top writers in your niche, and reach their work. Then, instead of being jealous, use it as motivation to push yourself harder.
  5. You’re a winner if you show up and finish. You don’t have to finish first to be a winner, in track or in writing. It’s about the heart and persistence you bring to your task. In the longer races, sometimes one child would approach the finish line long after the others had gone, always to wild applause and shouts of encouragement from the spectators. Writing may be lonely, but if you keep on going, you’re going to find the acclaim you seek, sooner or later.

What have you learned about freelance writing from your life? Leave a comment and let us know.



13 comments on “5 Valuable Insights About Freelance Writing I Found at a Track Meet

  1. Monica Carter Tagore on

    I loved this post. Quite inspirational and timely.

    Two things that help me stay focused on my race and not someone else’s:

    1. Their journey is not my journey. Maybe they’ve made sacrifices, faced hurts, and paid in a way I would rather not. Grass only looks greener when you don’t have to do the unglamorous work of tending to it.

    2. If I focus on what others are doing, I get distracted, slow down, and even lose momentum. I can’t afford that, so I have to keep my eyes in front of me.

    • Carol Tice on

      Your #1 is such a good point, Monica — we only envy the results another writer gets, and don’t contemplate what the rest of their life might be like, or what they’ve sacrificed to get there.

  2. J. Delancy on

    I’ve learnt that small incremental improvements lead to big rewards. Patience, Perseverance and Practice is the key to a successful writing career.

  3. Damien Elsing on

    I like point number 5 especially, Carol. Many writers are also perfectionists, which can lead to procrastinating and not actually finishing projects because we’re worried about it not being perfect. The trick is to just get it done as best you can!

  4. Lou Wasser on

    Splendid, Carol! And with respect to your sage comment #1, let’s not forget the legendary remark of baseball pitcher Satchel Paige: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

    • Carol Tice on


      I learned early on that it’s just not productive to spend time jealously eyeing the success of others or worrying about whether some other writer is pitching the same story idea you are to the same magazine just now.

      My rule is that I just compete with me. I want to do each assignment better than the last one. That’s it.

  5. Margaret Delashmit on

    Hi, Carol,
    I’m so glad to find you. I am attempting to switch careers–I just retired as an English professor, and I’m trying to break into a new career as a freelance writer specializing in the health and education sectors. I would l like to be a member of your group.

    Margaret Delashmit

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