Friday, July 24, 2009

Baseball and Writing

I’m the first to admit that I’m NOT a baseball fan . . . except when it comes to watching my LSU Tigers win the College World Series every so often. And as I watched them do so again this year, it reminded me of how baseball is like writing.

To excel at a sport, especially on the national collegiate or professional level, someone must be born with an innate athleticism. Same thing with writers—being able to imagine other worlds, come up with characters, and develop story ideas is something we’re born with. In baseball, like any other sport, in addition to having that natural talent, the players must spend years preparing: learning the nuances and rules of the game, conditioning themselves, practicing, playing, learning the “market” (how other teams play, what to expect), going out every game with a winning attitude, and learning how to be a gracious loser (though in professional sports, we’re losing this more and more each year).

As a writer, I have spent years preparing: from the basic fundamental of learning how to write, learning grammar, learning to type, to learning the rules of good writing; conditioning myself and practicing by writing, writing, writing, as well as by working with critique partners and learning how to edit and revise; studying the market—determining which publishers to target and what they’re looking for; approaching each writing session, editor/agent pitch, or contest entry with a positive, “winning” attitude; and learning how to graciously accept rejection from said editors/agents/contests.

Baseball, obviously, is a TEAM sport. Each player has his individual position to play, but each must also support the team as a whole. This mirrors the importance of fellowship with other writers which, for me, is represented by my local writing group, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, as well as several online groups I participate in. When a player hits a three-run homer with two outs, the team is there to meet him at the plate with cheers and congratulations. When the next batter up pops out to center field, while the team is disappointed, there should be no condemnation, only encouragement and offers to help him improve his batting average. In a writing group, when one of our members makes a sale or wins a contest, my role as a teammate is to be there at “home plate” waiting to give her a high-five, to congratulate her, and to publicly applaud her. When the next one comes back with a rejection, my role as a teammate is to offer support, encouragement, and offer any assistance such as critiquing, editing, etc., that is within my expertise to provide.

An individual player is like a writer, too. When he stands at the plate waiting for the pitch, he knows why he’s there. When I sit down at my computer to write, I know why I’m there. The batter waits for the pitch, not knowing whether it’s going to be a fast ball, a breaking ball, or a curve ball. I wait for inspiration to strike, not knowing from where it will come. The ball is pitched. One of four things happens to the baseball player: He doesn’t swing and the pitch is “ball.” He doesn’t swing and the pitch is a “strike.” He swings and either misses the ball for a “strike” or connects for a foul ball. Or he swings and connects with the ball for a hit. When ideas/inspiration come my way, similar things can happen. I can let it go right by me because it’s not something that really works. I can let it go right by me and realize I’ve missed something important that I might not ever be able to get back. I can start writing the idea only to discover it’s not going anywhere, or that it’s going somewhere off track. Or I can start writing and make a great connection. How far I “hit” it depends on how well I’ve prepared myself. And, even if it’s a fabulous piece of work, it may still lead to an “out”—a rejection.

Once a batter hits a homerun, he’s not told to go sit on the bench and relax and enjoy the rest of the game. In the next inning, he must still play his field position as well as go up to bat again. His next at-bat may be another hit or it may be a strike-out. But he doesn’t quit just because he can’t follow up a homerun with another homerun. He keeps working, redoubles his efforts to get that batting average up. Just because I’m a published author doesn’t mean I can sit back and rest on my laurels. I have to keep writing, keep improving, keep studying, keep practicing to remain in the “game.”



Kaye Dacus is the author of the Brides of Bonneterre series for Barbour Publishing and The Ransome Trilogy for Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and is a former Vice President and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. A Louisiana native, she now calls Nashville, Tennessee, home. She is currently celebrating the release of her two latest titles: Menu for Romance and Ransome’s Honor. To learn more about Kaye and her books, visit her online at


  1. Kaye,

    Your baseball analogy was a good starter for me this morning.

    I have referred to publishing as a game as well, but hadn't thought of it as a baseball game. To expound on your idea, I have always had to keep telling myself to get the writing out of my head and onto the page.

    Maybe from now on when I do more thinking than writing, I'll think of it as playing fantasy baseball.

    I brought huge home made cinnamon rolls for breakfast this a.m. They're still warm and gooey.

  2. Kaye, good morning to you! Thanks for stopping back to see us. We love your visits to Seekerville.

    Cathy, good job with the cinnamon rolls...

    I've got coffee. Gallons of it. Late night at the bakery. Need caffeine... And I LOVE to share so I brought the full cappuccino/coffee set-up. Help yourselves.

    Mmmm..... lovely cinnamon rolls... I'm very happy right now, Cathy.

    Kaye, good teaching analogy.

    And I am a consummate baseball lover. Started studying stats when I first met Dave so we'd have a common ground to talk about. I wanted to appear knowledgeable. Who can resist a girl who looks good in shorts and knows her way around a baseball diamond???

    Oh my stars, what we women do!!!

    I married my baseball fan and had to jump on the merry-go-round or apply for widowhood six months/year.

    AND HOW ABOUT THOSE YANKEES???? Seven straight wins.

    Have I mentioned Jeter lately??? Kaye's post gave me a PERFECT opening to tout my favorite player in pinstripes. Or any stripes.

    Grinning foolishly even though I could ADOPT the boy and be well within timing constraints. Oh mylanta.

    Fun analogy. Have we ever noticed how often "Home Run" is used to analogize other things????

    Same with "Touchdown". Analogies bring the lesson home.

    I'll bring more food later, check on how things are going. Maybe a sweets cart to celebrate Friday and CARA'S BOOK SALE!!!!

    Sorry, can't stop smiling here in Seekerville.


  3. Welcome Kaye and thanks for starting us off on a Friday with such a great, motivational analogy. But I must admit when I first saw the title that for a split second I thought "has Ruthy figured out a way to do a writing-related tribute to Jeter?" ? :)

  4. I have to admit I am not a baseball fan (dont understand it fully) im a cricket fan.
    But Have to say I loved Ramsones honor and am enjoying menu for romance right now (infact about to go to bed where its nice and warm to read some more before bed time. (its been really chilly all day)

  5. Welcome to Seekerville, Kaye! I love your baseball analogy. In fact, I love baseball, although not as much as Ruthy! I'm a Red Sox fan, but since I'm originally from Connecticut, I love the Yankees, too. Waving to Ruthy.

    It's wonderful to cheer on others sucess, but it's probably even more important (and appreciated) to encourage others when they have failures and setbacks. We've all been there, probably many times. It's great when someone's willing to listen.

  6. Good morning, Kaye and great post! Love the baseball analogy although I am not a diehard fan like Ruthy or Cara, but I know just enough to make me dangerous.

    Have heard wonderful things about your books and am really looking forward to reading them.


  7. Think of all the writers who stand at that, there's even a PITCH.
    But we pitch, then we have to zip around and bat.

    And ohhhhhhh those hard to please umpires.

  8. Kaye,

    Thanks for the thought provoking analogy this morning.

    It reminded me of all of my 11-year-old son's little league games this summer. A few highlights but more errors than hits. And the stress of watching him pitch. Yikes! That's my baby out there.

  9. Hi Kaye:


    A woman who uses sports analogies. What’s not to like?

    However, as someone who has played the game, when I read your comment:

    “The ball is pitched. One of four things happens to the baseball player:”…I had to chuckle because all I could think of was the time the ball hit me in the head!

    Have you ever been hit in the head by a blockbuster idea? Have you seen stars? (This changes everything.)

    Has an idea ever brushed you back away from the plate? (Would you dare use it?) Have you ducked any wild pitches? (What's wrong with me today?)

    Has the pitcher ever balked?(An idea you don't even dare entertain.)

    Have you ever had to take a pitch when you knew you could have hit it out of the park? (Just too 'edgy' for us.)

    Does the pitch look different to you when the count is 0-2 than it does when it's 3-0? (Like your deadline is the end of the month.)

    Aren’t sports analogies great?
    You can extend the analogy beyond what the author provided and still be learning things even days later!

    You have me where I can't stop thinking! :) That's the sign of a good teacher.

    Thanks, I enjoyed your post.


  10. Kaye--Really like the reminder that not every hit is a homerun and that we don't always get the hit. And especially liked the picture of the team routing for each other. Yes!!! I'm learning first hand that our minds function so much better when boosted by encouragement rather than criticism.

    And Vince--Thanks for the added analogies! It so often helps get the creative juices flowing to read Seekerville blogs flowing with great mental pictures!

  11. Even though I originally posted this analogy on my blog a few years ago, I just wrote my first "baseball scene" in a book---it's a church-league, fast-pitch softball game in A Case for Love, written from the perspective of the hero, who isn't into sports AT ALL sitting with his sister, who just finished playing her game (and volunteered to play for the opposing team, as they were one player short of fielding a full team and would have had to forfeit otherwise).

    The inspiration for writing the softball scene? Watching LSU WIN THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES for the sixth time (the first time was when I was in school there back in the early '90s). GEAUX TIGERS. (See, Ruthy isn't the only one who loves an excuse to cheer on her favorite team!)

    Yes, Vince, there are so many aspects of this game (and football---and I've adapted this analogy for that sport as well), and with as much as I love analogy, I could have kept going with the examples of ways they're alike. But I had to stop somewhere! :-)

  12. Welcome back to Seekerville, Kaye. I am wearing my New York Yankees ball cap as I read this.

    Your book sounds great!

  13. Being from Nebraska, not THAT far from Omaha, the home of the College World Series, I love to see the baseball talk.

    We love college baseball here. :)

  14. I've been offline for the last three days, so I've just gone back to read the latest Seekerville postings.

    Cara, I'm so happy for you! How awesome that your first place turned into The Call. And with Thomas Nelson! How did that happen? I've heard they only take prior published authors. Guess you were exactly what they wanted! Go, girl! I'm so happy Seeker Island will remain a delightful resort for all of us addicted to yummy breakfasts and writing delights!

    Julie, I'm really looking forward to your newest plot where you're rubbing the sparks of passion with the fire of friendship. You'll do a great job! And discover more about life and love along the way, I'm sure. :) Blessings!

  15. As much as I dislike baseball, (gasp...I know, I know, I said that out loud!)I loved your analogy. It works well for basketball, btw, with the team, the dunker, etc... Determination and practice, makes a great player and writer!
    Awesome post, Kaye!

  16. I am sitting here as I write this and am watchng the Atlanta Braves, this is about the only spot I do like is baseball


  17. Sorry I'm coming in late here, but thanks Kaye for your post today. I've found that the Seekers have been my 'team' outside my family and friends. It's been such a blessing and all because of...Mary. (btw, I received Montana Rose this evening ;-)
    Your books are such fun, Kaye. I can't wait to see what happens to Forbs :-)
    For any who are interested, I have a giveaway of Kaye's book "Menu for Romance" at my blog. Yummy!

    What if writing was like Tee ball - a hit every time :-) I like the sound of that

  18. Kaye, Sorry to be so late getting to this but want to thank you for joining us in Seekerville. I enjoy your books, so its really a pleasure to have you on board with us today.

    I'm with you Glynna, I thought with that baseball angle that Ruthy must have decided to post again. smile

    Anyway, Kaye, great analogy. Happy writing.