The Athleticism of Craft: 7 Attributes of Elite Writers & Illustrators

My partner is a sailboat racer. She and her fellow racers read a lot of what's called "sailing porn"-- magazines, articles, books, pamphlets, blogs, newsletters all about sailing, boats, and racing. They can't get enough. This week she shared an article with me from Scuttlebutt Sailing News called "Seven Attributes of Elite Athletes," saying "Look at this! All of this applies to writers and illustrators!" 

The article opens with these words: "In sailing, there are many uncontrollable factors that are constantly changing...Athletes [learn] to deal with these elements with confidence and trust in themselves."  It goes on to list seven factors elite level sailors take into account to reach excellence. 

Substitute "writer" or "illustrator" for "sailor" and these seven factors couldn't be more pertinent and applicable to the creative process and to the publishing process. Take a look at these seven factors:
1. Have a Clear Purpose and Vision
2. See Adversity as Only an Obstacle
3. Accept Failing as a Learning Tool
4. Know What You Can or Cannot Control
5. Develop Thoughts and Beliefs that Match Your Values and Goals
6. Remain Coachable
7. Focus on the Process

How do these factors apply to your goals as a creative artist? 

How do these factors apply to your publishing goals?

These are attributes of elite athletes. These are attributes of elite writers and illustrators, of artists of all kinds. These are attributes that contribute to living our lives with confidence and trust in ourselves. Ready? On our marks, get set....go!

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks


  1. Wow... These are great an EXACTLY what I needed to hear at this very moment. How do you do that???

  2. Brilliant. I might add "beware the doldrums." It's a old sailing term.

  3. Saving this to my, note to self, basket. Thank you, Emma.

  4. Very nice post. Thanks

  5. This is awesome. I’m going to post this at my desk. I think they apply to life in general. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Absolutely these factors apply to so many aspects of life and work! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Thanks for sharing! I'm posting it in my office.

  7. Emily Avery Martin11/08/2019

    I love to sail. I love to write. I love to write about sailing. This blog post was perfect for me. I'm especially working on number 2 right now.
    Emma, I really enjoyed listening to your recent SCBWI podcast. I'm glad I've found your blog.

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!