Have you ever considered that football and writing have a lot in common? As a matter of fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that back in high school, I suspect the “artsy” groups and the jocks were actually more similar than different.

This concept occurred to me while I was watching Sports Center last Saturday.(can’t live without all the game day highlights.) In a mid-afternoon sports lull, Cris Collinsworth interviewed players, college and NFL, about this very topic. I was surprised to hear how seriously the athletes took the creative connection.

One of the burly, 300-plus-pound safeties explained, “You only have so much creative energy.”

What?(say it with me–what #@*#?) Mr. Collinsworth didn’t seem to be surprised at all.

The safety went on to say, “Everyone knows that we need rest and food for energy, the part that physically gets us through the game. But the creative piece is different. It’s the intuition, the instinct to feel where the play will go–a sixth sense that makes you extraordinary.”

An up and coming college running back from a not so small school in Oklahoma said something similar. “When I was young, I used to do things like don the same underwear every game, or grow out my unruly hair. A little further down the road, a coach explained to me about my creative tank. He told me, like most things, the tank only held so much juice and I had to choose where I wanted to use it.”

(apparently there’s more to these guys then meets the eye.)

The last player interviewed was a rookie quarterback. He was adamant about his pre-grame ritual. “I don’t exert myself at all, eight hours before any game. I want every once of my creative mojo available for the big plays.”

“Much to your wife’s dismay.” Cris Collinsworth joked.

The quarterback laughed for a second, and then became very serious. “There’s nothing like it, that “zone” where I can just think the ball to where ever I want it to go.”

After the special interest piece was over, I got to thinking about what they said.

When I was flying, I used to say I wasn’t very creative, I was much more analytical. But maybe I didn’t really understand what being creative really meant.

According to the energy experts in the NFL, I was just as creative as the next guy. I could relate to that place they described, where you’re so in tune to what you are doing, everything just flows. That moment when I actually felt like the airplane and I were one, nirvana. I was just allocating my reserves for the complicated task of flying.

Enter the writing. Lately, I’ve been editing like a fiend.(to the tune of 6-8 hours a day) My post-writing ritual has always been a long run.(okay, you may not know this about me, but there are very few things I do half-baked, so the run is actually a balls-out sprint) But lately I’ve noticed the very thing that used to relax and re-energize me, leaves me feeling drained.(is my age catching up to me? say it isn’t so)Then I thought of my pro-bowl mentors and it made perfect sense. The creative energy in my tank is now being funneled to my writing.

Whew, what a relief.(age isn’t a factor) Just like they said, I have to chose where I want to use my creative juice. And I chose writing.

With this in mind, I take off on the running path. This time, adjusting my pace to conservation mode–my speed no longer a priority.

Later that day, I went to meet an acquaintance, a very established, suspense author.
I got a drink and slid into the seat next to him. He looked a little off and I asked, “You tired?”

“Been writing all afternoon. Just drained my creative tank, that’s all.”

There it was, football players and authors, one and the same.

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