Monday, 5 October 2015

If It's Good Enough For The Scottish Rugby World Cup Team ...

Last weekend I was running my The Complete Article Writer course in Leeds, on behalf of Relax and Write (who do a wide range of great courses). When I arrived I discovered the hotel and conference centre was also the official venue for the Scottish Rugby World Cup Team. Not only that, but to get to our workshop rooms we had to walk through their designated area of the conference centre.

I must admit to being a little nervous. There were No Media Beyond This Point signs everywhere and security guards checking passes and stopping any unauthorised access … and my press pass was sitting tightly in my wallet.

During the course of the weekend I saw snippets of how the Scottish Rugby Team were preparing for this event and realised that as writers, we can learn from them too. (So could the English Rugby Team, but this is not the place for that discussion!)

1) Respecting Our Bodies
On Saturday morning all so the coffee machines in the conference centre had signs stuck to them. The team’s next game was Sunday afternoon, so their caffeine intake was restricted and then prohibited completely after 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

Now, I know many writers swear by their caffeine intake, particularly when there’s a deadline looming. But rather than need three cups of coffee in order to get going in the morning, or six more cups to keep going into the early hours of the next morning, it’s much better to have a naturally clear head. So, if you’re finding it difficult to think, don’t force it. Don’t turn to the caffeine in the hope that it’ll help you to produce something, because it may not. And even if it does it may not produce the quality you’re after. The Scottish Rugby Team respected their bodies. They know they get better results without the artificial stimulants.

2. Watch Our Competitiors
On Saturday afternoon they had all piled into one of the larger conference rooms to watch Wales playing England. They were scrutinising the competition to see how they were playing, and what tactics they were using.

Writers need to do the same. Read widely. Read what your direct competitors are writing. What are fellow article writers discussing? What sort of storylines are fellow short story writers coming up with? We learn from each other, so what can yo learn from other writers?

3. Do Something Completely Different
The Scottish Rugby Team weren’t always practising and training. They were chilling out. A change is as good as a rest. Some were playing games on their smartphones and tablets. Others were reading. Some were pretty good with a guitar, too.

Stepping away from our writing is just as important for us. Writing in our garrets shuts us off from the real world, which means we need to make time to re-engage with it. Step away from your writing desk on a regular basis - it doesn’t matter whether you write full-time or part-time - we all need that break, because it helps keep our minds fresh and receptive to new ideas.

Good luck.


  1. I rarely drink coffee, read loads and do all kinds of weird stuff - seems I'm almost guaranteed to get an acceptance this week! (a positive attitude helps too, right?)

    1. Yep. And have you thought of joining the Scottish Rugby Team? ;-)

  2. Love coffee and strong tea but I don't have a lot of either. I also have several bottles of diluted squash in the fridge as well, and I drink a lot of that, plus the odd diet Coke. We both gave up booze in March/April time too. I used to love real ale but from around this time last year I began to lose the taste for it. Now I don't miss it at all.

    So here I am sat at me 'puter and playing on here instead of writing, but once my daily on-line bits are done, then I shall satrting writing, with another glass of squash beside.

    1. Ah, the 'putering bit .... that's the "Do Something Completely Different' bit. As long as you do do some writing, that's okay!

  3. Caffeine is on the cycling drug list. Perhaps it's on rugby's too. Harmless, you may think, but go cold turkey and don't use caffeine for a day and see how you shake.

    1. Perhaps those notices were meant for us writers too, then! I wonder how many writers would pass a banned substances drug test if we had to undertake one every time we submitted our final copy? ;-)

  4. I am a complete coffee junkie and have 7 different machines - all in use at some point during the week. I think I would need to go into rehab to actually give it up. I just love the smell, the taste and basically everything about it. The only time I don't drink it is when I lose my voice or have a throat infection and then I turn to green tea or camomile or fennel - YUK!! So, I wouldn't make a very good sports person - I'd be banned almost immediately. So maybe I need to work on point one - or maybe in another life :)