• Dave Langdale

What makes an Olympian writer?

Phew. After weeks of watching intense competition, inspiring stories and Herculean efforts, we’re out the other side trying to catch our breath. The Olympics and Paralympics are like no other events on Earth. Bringing together over 14,000 athletes from 205 nations promotes such spirit and equality; a sight many of our governments could learn from. And on an individual level, every competition, whether it’s archery or gymnastics, water polo or sitting volleyball comes with stories of strife and the overcoming of adversity. We were so inspired we found ourselves asking, what can we learn from these superhumans that could make us better writers?


We bounced ideas around the team and distilled these down to four key qualities that we think define an Olympian:


Objectives

In world competitions, you may think objectives only equate to medals. But there is a much deeper level. Within each athlete, there is a goal to push beyond their previous best, beyond the best of their fellow competitors. There is an inherent drive to perform, to be better each and every time they step into the playing space. And that’s so inspiring.


Every time writers take on a project, their objective is to deliver an exceptional response to the brief. But, taking inspiration from the Olympians, if we deepen our objectives from delivering great work to also being better versions of our writing selves, we open up so many paths to self-improvement.


Learning

One of these paths includes learning, and there is no better quality that sums up the journey of the Olympians than learning. To perform at an elite level, athletes need years and years of dedicated coaching, to hone their skills and their talent to from beginners to beings of absolute precision. And behind each athlete is a team of people helping shape this knowledge. The interviews with gold medal winners tell us that the learning never stops. There is always something new that may offer an edge in the next competition.


We believe that’s what makes an Olympian writer too. By constantly learning and looking for new opportunities to broaden expertise, whether that’s attending a conference or sharing best practice, they can always keep improving.


Consistency

Consistency really is the key to competing at the elite level. Although there were some huge surprises in this year’s Olympics (women’s road cycling, anyone?) and Paralympics (Jonnie Peacock and that dead heat bronze!), many of those on the podium were already world champions, European champions or previous medallists. These athletes understand the importance of putting out high-level performances each and every time they compete.


For Olympian writers, consistency is equally important. Every time they’re sent a brief, they ensure work is delivered to a gold-medal standard.


Enjoyment

If there’s one common theme we’ve noticed across every event, it’s that the athletes are following their passion. They are loving every second. From the dancing and smiles at the opening ceremony to the elation of competing on the world stage, the enjoyment is infectious. So much so, we found ourselves Googling the nearest canoe slalom team, or wondering whether we had the chops for table tennis. Enjoying the process is key to reaching the Olympics, because the path can be so gruelling, with constant training, exercise and controlled nutrition. They do it because they love it.


That enjoyment is at the core of an Olympian writer. To love writing and love your work. Whether that’s getting stuck into a new disease area, being able to work remotely at different locations or even the sheer joy of seeing work come to life on the page.


The Olympics and Paralympics may come once every four years, but the legacy of each games inspires generations of people to strive to learn something new, improve and excel. And as writers, we can take that inspiration forward in everything we do, striving to become Olympians ourselves.




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