A year or so ago, I declared myself a Writer. Feeling like a natural, I was following Steven King’s advice of writing alone without distraction and producing 2,000 words per day.
As Covid restrictions started to lift, I quickly learned that my discipline was one part passion, and the other part having nothing-else-to-do.
As a sports fan, covid meant watching replays of old games that held little interest for me. Then things started up again. I faced the temptation of watching hockey almost every evening. Then all the big European events came back to life disrupting my mornings. The European Football Championship, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, The Open and now the Olympics. Far too many I’ll-write-later opportunities.
The crux of my challenge, though, started with the view from my writing desk. I look directly over a golf course. It’s a great view and provides all the natural light I need.
But, when golf started up after a covid break, every eight minutes I would see and hear players teeing off. Like a dog to a squirrel, I was instinctively drawn in. I succumbed to my instincts and was pulled away from writing time.
You may be thinking, hey John, ‘I thought you only played golf three times a week and it only takes four hours. That leaves plenty of time to write.”
Technically, you are correct, but just like people not understanding the dog and the squirrel, you are not seeing the game as a whole. The holistic golf experience stretches well beyond 4 hours. It is a ritualized event whose traditions are to be taken seriously.
Upon finishing your round, you must select your beverage of choice. Beer is popular. The first one tends to disappear quickly as you share an adrenalin laden hole-by-hole recap of your game with three people that were there with you for every shot. Then, with the first beverage completed, another is ordered to support proper socializing. Trust me. This is all science.
Beer also provides me with added benefits. It reminds me that Parkinson’s can cause one to feel fatigued, so when I get home, I take a nap.
All in, golf requires time to warm up, play the game itself, imbibe in traditional beverages, take a long nap, and shake out cobwebs after the nap. It is a full day’s activity. And…., even after all that, there is a possibility that someone will think “all I did was golf” that day, so I feel obliged to make dinner.
You are probably still thinking, “You only play three times a week which leaves plenty of other days for writing, right?” Wrong. Because of golf, I have made many friends, and with covid restrictions lifted, we are doing fun things together all the time. All this is taking time from writing. We are even planning vacations. Such problems!
In truth, I am striving to become a better writer and finding the discipline to do it is a challenge, but not a problem. I do manage to write something almost every day, and I have a few big projects on the go.
Part of me writing this post is to give myself a reminder that discipline is important, but so is having fun doing it. I also thought that those who follow me may appreciate something a little lighter than my last few rants.
I’m not even at 1,000 words yet, so let me further explain the relationship between dogs chasing squirrels and golf.
We had a golden retriever called “Couver”, as in Vancouver. He was neurotic, harmless and lovable like many golfers I know. He would obediently run beside us on a leash — at least, he would until he spotted a squirrel. He would then forget about all else and charge after the squirrel with full abandon. He was on an expandable leash, so if you were paying attention, you had time to brace yourself. After a couple of seconds, the squirrel would escape up a tree or into a hedge, and we would go back to running.
Then, one day he caught up to one and managed to get his paw on its back. It was a gentle tap. Couver’s reaction was amazing. He turned and looked at me jumping up and down in celebration. I think he smiled. “I got one. I finally got one”!
For years he had played the chase the squirrel game, and then he had that moment of perfection. His “hole in one”.
I can imagine Couver meeting up with his squirrel chasing dog friends for years afterwards describing that moment in detail. The story getting better with each telling. If you were a squirrel chasing dog, you would hang on every word. If not, it’s because you never played the game.