I had an interesting e-mail interview about writing with the excellent social psychology blog "Just Tap The Glass".
What obstacles on your path to sports writing have you encountered? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle, besides the fact that the traditional model of working up through a newspaper is fading away, was myself. Just learning to believe in myself and what I was writing and to take criticisms in stride and not personally. When you try to pursue a non-traditional career, you’ll face rejection all the time and a lot of the people in your life will want you to try something more stable.
That’s why I really like rappers like Jay-Z and Kanye, whose whole message is “I believed in myself when no one else did and look where I am now.” The human mind is very malleable: that’s why the placebo effect is so powerful. If you tell your mind something enough times, it will start to believe it, no matter how divorced it is from objective reality. You just have to decide in believe yourself. It sounds easy but it isn’t.
It’s weird advice to give, because for every Jay or Kanye there’s a hundred rappers who didn’t make it for whatever reason. Skill is important but it’s not enough. There are a lot more successful people with a little amount of skill and a whole lot of confidence than the reverse.