"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Friday, September 5, 2014

What Muhammad Ali Can Teach Us About Being Better Writers!

Today's post is sure to pose some skepticism at first glance.
To tell the truth, its ideation and evolution even surprised me.
I'll pull no punches here. I have never been a big fan of boxing.

In fact, the few times I have viewed it, was through slightly-covered eyes. On an intellectual level, I find this "sport" to be a bit frantic and stressful to watch, for my particular taste.
Yet, ironically, I am a recent fan of the former heavy weight champ, Ali.

Let me rewind here before we move forward, (for clarity sake)...

Over the last few months, various TV channels in my area have aired some pretty interesting documentaries, movies and tributes on the "Champ". Though I've always known who he was, I never knew what he stood for.

Few would disagree that he's an intriguing character indeed. Not to mention, he was a real "hunk" back in the day.  Certainly not your typical rough looking, intimidating, bruised boxer type. Anyhow, I found the more I was exposed to of his life and legacy, the more I admired him.
Ali was more than a boxer; here was an entertainer, an athlete, an activist, a strategist, a philosopher, poet, and more; "boasting" many followers and fans.

You can too, if you apply the following practices and principles that helped shape his career.
There's a winner in you too!


1. When you fall, have the courage to get back up.
Whether it's due to the crushing blows delivered by an editor's rejection, a financial hardship caused by the loss of a key client, or simply feeling as if your burdens are too heavy to bear. Get back in the game! Contrary to popular opinion, writing is not easy. It can be grueling, sweaty, painful and exhausting, just like being in the ring. But don't throw in the towel if there's some fight left in you.

2. Walk the talk.
Ali always told us he was "the greatest" and he lived up to it--winning numerous championships and titles before retiring. Before you apply to jobs, approach editors, or work with clients, make sure you can deliver upon your promises, and that you are who you present yourself to be.

3.  Apply humor whenever applicable.
Though Ali was considered a "serious" contender, he was well known for his sense of humor and charm. Many of us can remember how he would often take humorous "jabs" at sportscaster Howard Cossell. This quality made him likeable and unique in his profession. Along the same lines,
best-selling author and pastor, Joel Osteen, begins each sermon with a joke. In these serious times, the ability to make others laugh is a true commodity. Just be sure that it's in good taste and not mean-spirited.

4. Speak your own personal truths.
Stand up for what you believe in. For him, it was opposition to the war. For you, it might be refusing to take on free writing assignments, or choosing not to write for sites that conflict with your moral code, or taking a controversial stand on your Blog. "The truth shall set you free."

5. Discipline and training can help to go the distance.
Ali once shared, "I hated every minute of training , but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

6. Strategy is just as important as skill.
Ali was able to advance his career by studying the "moves" and weaknesses of his opponents. He would also "get inside their heads" by taunting them and targeting their "Achilles heel."
Learn how to get inside the heads of your readers. What are their needs? Their challenges? Their interests? A way to find out is to conduct periodic surveys through services like Survey Monkey. Or examine the analytics at your site to identify the most popular topics.
Assess then deliver!

In closing, I'll leave you with an Ali quote that sums things up pretty well here.
"Inside of a ring or out, ain't nothing wrong with going down. It's staying down that's wrong."

Share a comment, if you're "up to it." :-)


  1. Great points. I'd never have guessed there were so many things for a writer to learn from a boxer!

  2. True, right? :-) Thanks so much for the feedback, Karen. It's always appreciated.

  3. "Suffer now . . ." Love it! But sometimes I wonder how long "now" lasts. Hmmm. This is a thought provoking post, Jen. Thanks!

  4. Sue,
    I know what you mean. :-) God's speed.

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